Monday, October 24, 2005

Lasang Pinoy 3: Cebu Streetfood

I've shared so many years of local and international travel adventures with this very good friend from way back in college. He is a very visible hotelier who hates hotel food, but is a real authority on all things epicurean, from hors d'ouvres to isaw. He has been featured in various publications, but now I'm delighted that he is joining us for Lasang Pinoy 3, writing from Cebu where he was based for a time.

Liloan: Bastion of the Light (and other Delights)

By Calvin Galera

What do you do when you want to go out of Cebu City but your busy schedule won’t allow you to get that far? What do you do when your taste buds want something different and adventurous but your choices in the city is nothing but ordinary?

Embark on a food trip. Albeit a not so distant one.

Thirty minutes out of the city proper, or 45 minutes depending on how you want to enjoy the ride, is a perfect weekend foodtrip getaway – Liloan.

Liloan (in Cebu) is probably what Bulacan is to Luzon. It’s basically the first logical stopover for a quick bite and trip to the loo (at Jollibee usually) at the first leg of your trip. Or, the last pit stop (for pasalubong of Titay’s Rosquillos and torta) on your last leg before you hit the city proper on your way back.

Of course people go to Liloan for the parola (lighthouse). But for the seasoned out-of-towner, Liloan is just one of those quaint towns reminding you that, alas, you’re out of Cebu City proper! One does not know that beneath its homely charm is a treasure trove of gustatory delights waiting to be discovered.

Sunday is probably the best day to go. Besides being a day of worship, Sunday is traditionally a tiangge day for people in the area. Within the church vicinity is a flurry of activities - blur of colors, bursts of aromas and cacophony of sounds. Your eyes dart from one stall to the other: buckets of fresh flowers, multi colored toy balloons, carts of fresh fruits. Voices of vendors try to outdo the tolling of the church bells. And the aroma of food – whoa! It more than makes up for the chaotic pace of the place.

You see a whole lechon being cut, fresh from the roasting pit. You smell and it makes you wanna reach for a puso (hanging rice) from the next stall. Nokos (squid) are grilled alongside mamsas (jackfishes) and molmols (parrot fish). Endless rows of chicken Bisaya tumble and roll to barbecued perfection.

We have never seen such a variety of side dishes sold anywhere else in Cebu. It’s turo-turo style, with colorful delicacies in plastic bubbles – atsal (pickled papaya), atchara, and guso (seaweed). Or go Fear Factor style with swake (sea cucumber) and tuyom (sea urchin).

Do not miss the fresh lato salad. Ask the manangs to make it for you a la minute. The tangy tomatoes and the pungent shallots provide the perfect foil to the deep sea flavor of these emerald colored seaweeds. Heaven.

But before you set your heart too much on embarking on this trip, a word of caution. Familiar with the adage “When in Rome do as the Romans do”? Well, be prepared to enjoy the food like the locals do - eat with bare hands, al fresco, by the road. Not a good preposition but believe me, it’s pure gustatory delight. Liberating even. As they say, “The road to bliss is not paved in gold.”

Adto na ta!

Happy trip.


schatzli said...

adto na gyud ta sa cebu....
been 5 years lat time i visited

i avoided all the malls i was happier going for a road trip eating along the way turo turo tiange name it

Anonymous said...

hmmm.. interesting. squid is also nokos in quezon. and what's the difference between atsal and atchara? another lovely entry, kai and calvin. thanks so much for joining us for Lasang Pinoy! kai, ipapasyal mo ba kami to all these places when we go home?

Nick Ballesteros said...

Kai! Grabe, ako rin sobra na ang hangover sa LP3 :-). Naglagay pa ako ng isa pang post tapos meron din sa photo blog ko. Yummy posts you got here. Catch up on reading after office hours.

Kai said...

Yay Stef! It's been quite a while since I've been to Cebu, so I'll welcome any chance to go back there! I miss the SuTuKil, the inasal, the powdered sand beaches, and, passing by Liloan, one of the best snorkelling/diving sites, down south in Moalboal. Calvin! Kelan tayo babalik dun? ;-
) Sama ka rin, Schatzli!
Oh, by the way, according to our Binisaya friend here, the atsara is the usual pickled papaya, while the atsal is pickled anything but papaya, haha.

Watson, I have loads of streetfood photos I wanna write about!

Grace Ediza Virlouvet said...

Oooops, can I butt in?? :-) Cebu is the next city closest to my heart as I hail from Dumaguete, 2 hrs cruise from Cebu via fastcraft, well its funny how we well we know our very own dish and naming it diffently and we ending up with the same thing... atsara for "bisaya" is the pickled green papaya and atsal for us means big green and red bell pepper. :-)

Speaking of sutukil, we never miss to go if we are on vacation, its hubby's favorite and his Dad as well.. Frechies do love the "SUTUKIL" and 1 new restaurant "LAMI-A" showcases native dances.. tinikling.. my favorite! such a pleasure to eat there with such cutural heritage showcase.. makes me proud to be pinoy! for Cebuano's "ATO NI BAI!"

Kai said...

Grace, thanks for the input!

I like Dumaguete's budbud kabug, the "tempura" along Roxas Blvd., and Jo's chicken inasal and buco halo-halo. I want to write about them all, but I don't have the hometowner's privileged info.

And of course, Dumaguete is so near the white-sand beaches of Siquijor and the marine sanctuary in Apo Island. Paradise!

Grace Ediza Virlouvet said...

Ohhh... I miss that tempura, squidballs, fishballs and balot! along d boulevard during afternoon..ohh til night! buko halo @ jo's,chicken @ citiburger.. these makes me feel like going home..

Anonymous said...

does anybody has a recipe of balbacua and willing to share it? when in Cebu, i eat the dish at jun-jun and malou's at a.s. fortuna.

Anonymous said...

I love lechon cebu. Its taste really good. It doesn’t need any sarsa (sauce) to make it tasty. I am very much satisfied with the juicy meat & the crispy skin.