Cebu can be a culinary paradise if visitors are adventurous enough to try the local cuisine. Aside from the barbecue at Larsian and tuslob buwa in Pasil, the Queen City of the South is also known for the ngohiong. The dish demonstrates the strong ties of Cebu to the Fujian province in China. Ngohiong, or ngohiong-hun to the people of the Fujian province, refers to a five-spice powder that gives the dish its unique taste.
The ngohiong is the Cebuano version of the spring roll. Visitors may think this is a lumpia, but it is not just a simple lumpia, it is a distinctively Cebuano dish. It is a cheap, ready-to-eat dish that is typically sold in eateries, Chinese restaurants, and hawker-style stalls around the city.
The ngohiong is typically made of singkamas, ubod, garlic, onions, seasoning and the five-spice powder from China. The spices are star anise, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds and cloves. Some variations of the ngohiong may also have ground pork and small shrimps in the mix. These ingredients are wrapped in rice-paper roll and deep-fried.
The ngohiong is typically served with sweet and sour or spicy sauce. It is best paired with a puso, which makes it a rather affordable meal for any budget-conscious diner.
While there are numerous opinions as to where one can find the best ngohiong in town, one place that stands out the most among Cebuanos is Doming’s. Doming’s is a home-based ngohiong place located in Fairlane Subdivision in Guadalupe. It has the tendency to run out of stock by 1PM, which goes to show how popular the place is. On the other hand, visitors can also visit the nearest Ngohiong Express outlet to satisfy their craving for this uniquely Cebuano dish.
Cebu is once again in the limelight as one of the resorts in Mactan fared well in the 28th Readers’ Choice Awards of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa placed 3rd in the Top 25 Resorts in Asia. Aside from its third place finish among the best resorts in Asia, the resort also placed 51st among the Top 100 Hotels and Resorts in the World.
Aside from Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, El Nido Resorts in Pangulasian Island also entered the Top 20 Asian resorts list at 19th place. However, Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa was the only hotel or resort in the Philippines to be recognized as among the top in the world.
The Readers’ Choice Awards is based on a survey participated in by more than 128,000 travelers. This is the biggest number of participants in the history of the award-giving body. Participants rate the best hotels and resorts around the world as well as provide comments about their stay. Condé Nast Traveler is an international lifestyle and luxury travel magazine under the Condé Nast media group.
Sales and Marketing Director Albert Lafuente of Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa said the resort is honored of being selected to become a part of the prestigious list. He said they are elated that travelers around the world recognize the care and effort provided by the personnel of the resort. The resort is also encouraged by this recognition to create additional delightful experiences for its guests, Lafuente added.
This is the sixth time Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa was recognized by Condé Nast in the past ten years. The international travel magazine also recognized the resort in 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The resort was also given the Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Award in 2008.
Aside from the kiosk of the Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and other tourist sites in downtown Cebu, there is another place people should not miss when they visit the Queen City of the South, the Taoist Temple. It is located close to the Beverly Hills subdivision, one of the luxury communities in Cebu.
Built in 1972, the Taoist Temple is open to both believers and non-believers. In fact, it has become one of the major tourist attractions in the city. The temple is a shrine for people practicing a religion based on the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tze, Taoism. Since it is a functional temple, it is necessary for visitors to follow rules while visiting the place. A number of documents showing the doctrines of Taoism can be found all around the temple.
One of the things visitors can do at the temple is to walk along Cebu’s version of the Great Wall of China. While it may not be as impressive as the actual thing, it is still the closest one can get without having to leave Cebu. It is also advisable for visitors to carry along a bottle of water, just in case. Visitors can also climb the 99 steps of the temple. Even though it is may be an exhausting activity trying to climb all 99 steps, it is quite enjoyable. Some people may say the number of steps is exactly 99, but others contend it is around 80 steps. This contention may hold water since the book used by practitioners of Taoism has a total of 81 chapters.
Visitors can also light joss sticks at the temple and perform the rituals practiced by believers of Taoism. Instructions can be found at the main door of the temple. Since the temple is located along the hills, visitors can also watch as the sun sets over the horizon. At this point visitors will be treated to an enchanting view of the island surrounding the mainland.
Whatever visitors will do at the temple, they should always observe silence since the Taoist Temple is a religious shrine where believers of Taoism pray. The Taoist Temple is indeed one of the well-known tourist sites in Cebu and one place visitors of the Queen City of the South should not miss while they are in Cebu.
Exotic food items are culinary items considered to be unusual, innovative or even taboo based on the perspective of one’s native culture. Cebu has its share of exotic food and one that stands out the most is “tuslob buwa.”
Tuslob buwa is a Cebuano term for an exotic street food sold in the barangay Pasil and Ermita. The literal meaning of tuslob buwa is “to dip into bubbles.” This dish is uniquely Cebuano and has become a good source of income for some enterprising individuals some of whom have already been in the business for at least fifteen years.
The ingredients of the dish are quite simple and it is easy to prepare. Its ingredients are pig brain, pork liver or pork intestines. It also requires soy sauce, oil, onions and other seasoning. The first thing to do is to boil the pig brain or liver before mixing it with the other ingredients. The mixture is then stir fried until it is cooked before being transferred into a bowl.
Some vendors have a heated work ready for use when they go out into the streets. Once customers start to gather, they simply put in oil and some of the mixture into the heated wok and wait for bubbles or the “buwa” to form. While some vendors serve the heated mixture on a plate for their customers, some customers opt to dip their puso or hanging rang straight into the wok with the mixture. The “buwa” in the wok is typically served for free and customers only have to pay for the puso, which costs P 3 each. But if it is served on a plate, it typically costs P10.
Tuslob buwa has gradually increased in popularity up to a point that some business-minded individuals have set up their own tuslob buwa businesses. One notable tuslob buwa outlet is Azul along Gorordo Avenue. Azul is owned by Ian Sekong, an entrepreneur and musician. The tuslob buwa at Azul is based on the personal taste of Sekong, who applied some innovations into the recipe.
Whether it is sold along the streets of Pasil and Ermita or at outlets like Azul, tuslob buwa has definitely piqued the interest of the discriminating Cebuano.
Colon Street is probably the most famous street in the Queen City of the South. When one mentions the name Colon, images of a vibrant shopping and business district comes to mind. It is a rather busy and crowded street located in downtown Cebu. It is also the oldest street in the entire archipelago.
Colon was named after the Spanish name of Christopher Columbus, Cristobal Colon. The street was established by the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi after his arrival in the Philippines in 1565. Trendy shopping establishments, boutiques, movie houses and boutiques used to dot the stretch of Colon Street before the arrival of big malls in the 1990s. Due to this, commercial activity started to shift in the uptown area of the city as businesses transferred their operations in these areas.
Colon Street is still among the most crowded areas in the Queen City of the South. It continues to be a place for people from all walks of life to gather and look for great deals on products that may be cost more in the malls. A good number of jeepneys coming from different areas in the city typically pass by the street.
In 1999, the National Historical Institute declared Colon Street as a historical landmark. Markers were set up along the side of the road showing information about the historical significance of some establishments located in the area. These markers give visitors information about the Vaño Residence, Lu Do Copra Plant, Tamayo Residence, Rallos Residence, Southern Institute, Don Victoriano Osmeña Residence and the University of the Visayas, among others.
City officials also exerted efforts in bringing back the glory days of Colon Street. Police officers and barangay tanods were tasked in securing the area. In an effort to revive Colon Street, the annual Night Market was established in 2007. The Night Market is held four times each year: in January, June, August or September and December. Stalls are open from 6 in the evening until 2 in the morning. The stalls occupy a wide stretch of the street and have transformed the area into a place where local residents and foreign tourists can enjoy a festive atmosphere. Numerous products are sold at the Night Market from knick-knacks to home and kitchen wares. Prices of these goods can go as low as P5 per piece, which is something one cannot easily find in the malls.
The entry of big malls in Cebu may have shifted commercial activities into the uptown areas, but if there are still people looking for great deals in the city, Colon Street will continue to be the center of business in the Queen City of the South.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.