Cebu: Heavy Meals, Desserts, Pasalubong & Lechon de Cebu

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Cebu is a province in the Philippines known for its delicious cuisine. The cuisine of Cebu is a unique blend of traditional Filipino dishes with a modern twist.

Cebu is known for its lechon, a roasted pig that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Other popular dishes include siomai, a Chinese-Filipino dish that’s unique to Cebu, torta, and bibingka.

In this article, I’ll take you through what the cuisine of Cebu is and how it differs from other Filipino dishes.

What is cebu

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Discovering the Unique Flavors of Cebu Cuisine

Cebu cuisine is a blend of traditional and modern Filipino dishes with a unique twist. It features a wide range of dishes that use local ingredients such as rice, pork, and seafood. Cebu is known for its delicious lechon or roasted pig, which is a must-try for anyone visiting the city.

What Are Some Must-Try Dishes in Cebu?

If you’re looking to try some of the best dishes in Cebu, here are some recommendations:

  • Lechon de Cebu: This is a popular dish that is served in almost every restaurant and food stand in the city. The pork is roasted over a fire until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender.
  • Balut: This is a dish that is not for the faint of heart. It’s a fertilized duck egg that is boiled and served with a mixture of salt and vinegar. It’s a popular street food in the Philippines, and Cebu is no exception.
  • Hanging Rice: This is a unique way of serving rice in Cebu. The rice is cooked in coconut leaves and served in a package that can be carried around easily. It’s perfect for people who are on-the-go.
  • Cebuano Soup: This is a delicious soup that is made with a mixture of meat and vegetables. It’s typically served with rice and is a great way to warm up on a chilly day.

Where Can You Find the Best Cebu Cuisine?

If you’re looking for a proper restaurant to try Cebu cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Zubuchon. They serve some of the best lechon in the city, and their other dishes are just as good. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, you can try the food stands at the Carbon Market. They serve a wide variety of dishes, and everything is delicious.

What Should You Know Before Trying Cebu Cuisine?

Here are a few things to keep in mind before trying Cebu cuisine:

  • Cebu cuisine is typically a bit smoky because of the way the meat is cooked.
  • If you’re not a fan of pork, you might have a hard time finding something to eat in Cebu.
  • Cebu cuisine uses a lot of soy sauce and vinegar, so if you’re not a fan of those flavors, you might want to ask for them to be removed.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try the balut. It’s a unique dish that is rarely eaten outside of the Philippines.

Hearty Delights: Cebu’s Unique and Flavorful Main Dishes

While lechon is already a famous dessert in Cebu, it is also a popular main dish. The city is known for producing the best version of lechon in the country, and it is a must-try for anyone visiting Cebu. You can buy it by the kilo or in sets, and it is usually served with plain or sticky rice. Some restaurants even stuff the lechon with seafood or other ingredients to add a distinct flavor.

Liempo: The Pork Barbecue of Cebu

Liempo is a popular dish in Cebu, and it is a type of pork barbecue that uses a unique soy sauce marinade. It is typically sold in small stalls along the street, and you can find it in almost every area of the city. The flavor is strong and highly recommended for those who prefer hot and sweet dishes. Some of the best brands of liempo in Cebu include CNT and George Parrilla.

Cebuano Siomai: A Chinese Dish with a Cebuano Twist

Siomai is a common Chinese dish, but in Cebu, it has a unique twist. The Cebuano version is typically steamed and includes a special ingredient called “puso,” which is a type of rice that is cooked inside a coconut leaf. You can find siomai in almost every restaurant or food center in Cebu, and it is a popular dish among locals and tourists alike.

Balamban Torta: A Hard-to-Find Delicacy

Balamban Torta is a traditional dish that is hard to find in Cebu. It is a type of omelet that includes a variety of ingredients such as danggit, coconut, and black pepper. The dish is typically sold in small stalls outside the city center, and it is highly recommended for those who want to try something different.

Bingka: A Sweet and Sticky Delight

Bingka is a sweet and sticky dish that is typically sold in supermarkets and food centers in Cebu. It is made from rice flour and coconut milk and is usually served as a dessert. The dish is highly recommended for those who have a sweet tooth and prefer traditional Cebuano dishes.

Indulge in Sweet Delights: Desserts in Cebu

When it comes to desserts, Cebu has a lot to offer. Here are some of the most popular sweet delicacies that you can find in the city:

  • **Bibingka**- a traditional Filipino rice cake made with ground rice, coconut milk, and sugar. It is usually served during Christmas season and is best eaten hot with butter and grated coconut on top.
  • **Budbud Kabog**- a sticky rice cake made from millet and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. It is usually eaten with ripe mangoes or hot chocolate.
  • **Mango Float**- a no-bake dessert made with layers of graham crackers, whipped cream, and fresh mangoes. It is perfect for those who prefer their desserts cold and creamy.
  • **Puto Maya**- a sweet sticky rice cake originating from the Visayas region. It is usually served with ripe mangoes or hot chocolate and is a staple breakfast dish in Cebu.

Where to Buy Desserts in Cebu

If you want to try these sweet delicacies, here are some places where you can buy them:

  • **Taboan Public Market**- a popular market in Cebu City that sells various local products, including dried fish, fruits, and desserts.
  • **Shamrock Pasalubong Center**- a local pasalubong center that sells various Cebuano delicacies, including otap, rosquillos, and mango tarts.
  • **La Fortuna Bakery**- a bakery that sells different types of bread, cakes, and pastries. They are known for their masi, a soft and chewy bread filled with grated coconut and sugar.
  • **Ching Palace**- a Chinese restaurant that serves a special version of mango float called “Mango Supreme.” It includes extra ingredients like cream cheese and crushed graham crackers.

Recommendations for Desserts in Cebu

If you want to try the best desserts in Cebu, here are some recommendations:

  • **Mango Float from Ching Palace**- a unique and delicious version of mango float that is highly recommended by locals.
  • **Budbud Kabog from Taboan Public Market**- an ideal dessert for those who love the taste of coconut milk and sticky rice.
  • **Dried Mangoes from Cebu’s Best Mangoes**- a popular brand of dried mangoes that are loved by many. You can find them in supermarkets and souvenir shops.
  • **Masi from La Fortuna Bakery**- a traditional Cebuano bread that is soft, chewy, and rich in flavor.

Bring Home the Flavors of Cebu: Pasalubong Delicacies

When you’re in Cebu, you’ll want to try all the local delicacies. But what if you want to bring some of those flavors home with you? That’s where pasalubong comes in. Pasalubong is a Filipino tradition of bringing home gifts for family and friends after a trip. In Cebu, there are plenty of pasalubong delicacies to choose from, and they make the perfect souvenir for foodies.

Where to Find Pasalubong Delicacies

Here are some places to look for pasalubong delicacies in Cebu:

  • Supermarkets: Most supermarkets in Cebu sell pasalubong delicacies like dried mangoes, otap, and rosquillos. Look for brands like Cebu’s Best and Profood.
  • Souvenir Stores: There are plenty of souvenir stores in Cebu that sell pasalubong delicacies. These stores usually have a wider variety of products, including lechon chicharon and danggit.
  • Restaurants: Some restaurants in Cebu sell pasalubong delicacies as well. If you’re going to a lechon restaurant, for example, ask if they sell lechon chicharon to take home.

The Famous Lechon de Cebu: A Pork Dish That Will Leave You Wanting More

When you hear the word “Cebu,” one of the first things that come to mind is Lechon de Cebu. This dish is known all over the Philippines and even recognized internationally. It’s a dish that involves the entire preparation of the pig, from the proper technique of preparing the meat to the careful setup of the pole where it’s roasted.

The History of Lechon de Cebu

According to the locals, the tradition of roasting a whole pig started a long time ago during the Spanish colonization. The young pigs were skewered on a pole and roasted over hot coals until the skin turns crispy and the meat is juicy and tender. The Chinese also had a significant influence on the dish, which is why it’s also referred to as “Chinese-style” lechon.

The Secret Recipe and Techniques

The preparation of Lechon de Cebu involves plenty of techniques and a secret recipe that only a few restaurants know. The proper technique of preparing the meat involves removing the fat and mixing it with a spicy sauce. The pig is then roasted for several hours until it achieves the utmost perfection.

The Best Restaurants That Serve Lechon de Cebu

There are multiple restaurants in Cebu that serve Lechon de Cebu, but here are a couple that are worth mentioning:

  • Rico’s Lechon: This restaurant is considered one of the best places to eat Lechon de Cebu. They have a recognizable brand and have been recognized by multiple groups as the best in the city.
  • Zubuchon: This restaurant serves fresh and unique varieties of Lechon de Cebu. They take utmost care in preparing their dish and achieve superior quality.
  • CNT Lechon: This restaurant has been around for a long time and is known for its little secret in preparing their Lechon de Cebu. They have been able to maintain their presence in the market for years.

Why You Should Try Lechon de Cebu

If you’re looking for a dish that’s difficult to resist, then Lechon de Cebu is the way to go. Here are a couple of reasons why you should try it:

  • The dish is prepared with utmost care and proper techniques, making it unique and superior in quality.
  • The history and tradition behind the dish are fascinating and worth knowing.
  • The taste is out of this world, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it before.

The Proper Way to Serve Lechon de Cebu

Lechon de Cebu is best served hot and with a side of rice. It’s also common to dip the meat in a mix of soy sauce and vinegar.

The Final Word

Lechon de Cebu is a dish that brings people together. It’s a dish that’s connected to the history and tradition of Cebu, and it’s definitely worth trying. So, the next time you’re in Cebu, make sure to drop by one of the restaurants mentioned above and send your taste buds on a journey they won’t forget.


The cuisine of Cebu is a blend of traditional Filipino dishes and a unique twist on modern Filipino food. It uses local ingredients and is known for its delicious lechon, a roasted pig. You can’t go wrong with trying the local food stands and restaurants.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.