Top Cebu Street Eats for the Busy Driver by Cebu Car Rental

May 18, 2024 | Cebu City Tour

Cebu Street Food | Cebu Car Rental

Whether you are in a hurry to drive out of town for your big Moalboal trip or just really need something fast to pick up for dinner, Cebu has a lot more local delicacies that you can enjoy without resorting to fast food takeout.

And as with a lot of Asian street food, many of these have a surprisingly rich culinary history that speaks about the diverse cultural heritage unique to the Queen City of the South.

1. Ngohiong

Occasionally confused with Chinese spring rolls, ngohiong is commonly sold in almost every streetside eatery in Cebu City. It is a Cebuano take on ngo hiang, one of many oriental dishes that were introduced by incoming Chinese traders (who eventually made their own small settlements here).

Most of the ngohiong you can find around town consist of chopped bamboo shoots infused with delicious spices and seasonings, all wrapped in battered rice paper. Others are said to include meat in the recipe but this is rarer and far more expensive.

A few big sticks of ngohiong can already be quite filling for the stomach. Some popular ngohiong eateries will have vehicles stopping with hazard lights near the sidewalk just so their drivers can drop in to order a bag for takeout. However, it is really best eaten with other tasty staples such as BBQ.

2. Siomai

While it retains much of its original Chinese form, you will likely hear one of two big names when it comes to Cebu’s siomai. The first is the Siomai sa Tisa, a very delicious variety that is said to originate in a district bearing the same name. It is unique in its absence of shrimp, the savory softness of its ground pork and extremely cheap price.

The second is a more expensive siomai created by the Harbour City group, a now affluent dimsum company with very humble beginnings right here in Cebu. And while its restaurants offer a wider menu of Chinese cuisine, its siomai is still widely known for its firmness, rich flavor and strong fidelity to tradition.

Whichever you choose depends entirely on what kind of dining experience you want, even if it is a quick one. Tisa-style siomai is cheaper and more widely available but quality can differ greatly depending on where you buy. On the other hand, Harbour City’s siomai is more expensive but it is more consistent in terms of taste.

3. Lechon

Of course, no list of Cebu street eats is ever complete without mentioning lechon! Many non-Cebuanos assume that it is a big, party centerpiece. But here, just about every lechon place can easily chop up choice bits and pack them in a takeout bag. Some of the best places will regularly serve the meat hot, soft and juicy while packing that crispy skin separately.

Speaking of the best though, you can expect a lot of debate over where to find the establishments that serve it perfectly. Many will throw around branded establishments like Zubuchon, Rico’s and CNT. However, one should not overlook smaller, less familiar establishments.

The most important thing to remember is that picking up a good serving of lechon does not require throwing a crazy expensive celebration here in Cebu. You do not need the whole pig. It is enough to just get recommendations from local friends based on where you are located or which routes you frequently drive.

Overall, some of the best local food here in Cebu is surprisingly portable. Aside from just the above three, you still have its famous BBQ stands and a whole slew of snacks, biscuits and desserts unique to the region. Here, you will never fret about getting a good taste of local cuisine just because you are always on the road. Sometimes the road may even be the best place to be!

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