Cebu is known as one of the country’s largest cities. Its bustling port, vibrant nightlife, and rich history give tourists and locals the chance to discover new delicacies and attractions at every corner. For every place to visit in Cebu, there’s likely a famous Cebu delicacy that you can enjoy and bring home as pasalubong to your friends and family – a reminder of your Cebu adventure.
In this guide, we list some of the best Cebu products and delicacies that you simply shouldn’t miss. Let’s get started on this epicurean journey.
Let’s start off with the most famous Cebu delicacy, dried mangoes. Cebu’s dried mangoes are known throughout the world as a favorite pasalubong for people leaving the country – OFWs and tourists alike. While this treat is readily available in supermarkets everywhere, nothing beats the price of dried mangoes straight from Cebu.
Philippine mangoes are exceptionally sweet, making them a delightful choice for a wide range of delectable desserts. However, fresh mangoes don’t hold well in transit and preserving their sweetness can be challenging. Drying as a preservation technique extends the flavor of mangoes, allowing them to last longer, transported, and be shared with more people. Like fresh mangoes, dried mangoes can also be used as an ingredient in different recipes.
If you’re on the lookout to purchase dried mangoes for pasalubong, you can head to Taboan Public Market to find these chewy treats packed and ready to go in various grammages. You may even find other Cebu food delicacies you can bring home in this area.
Are you looking to bring home a sweet nutty treat for your loved ones? Then, you can purchase a block or two of masareal – the sweetest peanut snacks that Cebu has to offer.
Masareal is one of Cebu’s best delicacies that originates from Mandaue City. This dried doughy treat is made with a mixture of finely ground peanuts and sugar syrup that’s mixed, then laid out to dry before being cut into rectangular blocks and packaged in paper.
A favorite Cebu delicacy pasalubong destination that sells masareal, is Didang’s. Didang’s is a crowd-favorite purveyor of masareal, otap, and rosquillos – so, choosing to buy your pasalubong at Didang’s is definitely a good decision.
Usually eaten for breakfast or merienda, budbud is a rice cake that’s often topped with slices of ripe mangoes or paired with a steaming cup of sikwate.
Budbud is a famous Cebu delicacy that was conceived in Sogod. It’s made of coconut milk, glutinous rice, sugar, and ginger. These ingredients are combined in a pan and stirred continuously until it blends perfectly, a painstaking process that takes up to 15 minutes. Once the budbud mixture is homogenous, it’s packed in a banana leaf and is usually sold on the street – ready to be picked up by workers, students, and mothers who are looking for a quick breakfast.
One doesn’t need to look far to find stacks of budbud to bring home as pasalubong. This treat is commonly found on the street or in public markets, especially if you’re in Sogod.
The town of Liloan also has its own entry for Cebu delicacies one should keep an eye out for, Masi.
Masi is a chewy peanut ball that’s made of glutinous rice and milk, which is stuffed with a sweet peanut filling that’s made of peanuts, sugar, and coconut milk. This affordable snack is a favorite amongst Cebuanos and is made daily in huge batches ready to be purchased by anyone looking for a sweet treat.
Still not convinced? Then maybe it’s time for you to head over to Inday Eddies Homemade Masi in Liloan to try it for yourself.
In Visayas, households will have their own tree of cacao which they process to turn into tablea for their consumption. Locals of Cebu are no different and while some have kept their stock for their home, others who are blessed with larger lands have started to sell their tablea in the market.
Sikwate is the Cebuano term for hot chocolate. Bisayas take their hot chocolate seriously and prefer making it with a ratio of one to one. One cup of water is for one tablet of tablea. This mixture is boiled in a metal jug over the fire and is frothed by rolling a batirol between one’s hands.
Some people are happy with just a water and tablea mix, while others will add sugar and a splash of milk for extra sweetness.
Tablea is one of the best pasalubongs you can give, the best part is that you won’t have to worry about these melting in transit as well. If you’re looking for a trusted tablea maker, you can search for Guilang’s Tableya, a Cebuano brand that has made its way to supermarkets nationwide due to its quality. You can purchase tablea from their shop located in Argao, Cebu, or from other convenience stores.
Wrapped in coconut leaves and hung in restaurants and hole-in-the-walls in Cebu, puso rice is a treasured Cebuano delicacy.
When you’re looking for the perfect pair for your chicharon, lechon, or longganisa, you can be sure that a steaming diamond of puso rice is the perfect match.
Puso is unique because the rice is cooked inside the woven coconut or banana leaf encasement. Once it’s finished steaming inside a barrel of boiled water, it’s ready to be delivered and hung in shops across Cebu.
While some people may just think that it’s plain rice, the craftsmanship that goes behind the weaving of this product is what makes it unique to Cebu. Individuals will also not need a spoon or fork to eat this carbohydrate with their favorite viand.
A common Cebu delicacy that’s bought as pasalubong is longganisa. Much like the northern provinces of the Philippines, Cebu also has its version of chorizo.
Cebu’s small and round longganisa differentiates itself from other types of longganisa by its seasoning. This longganisa has a flavor profile of being sweet, smoky, and spicy.
You can find chorizo to bring home as souvenirsin the palengke or grocery. Just make sure to pack these in a sealed bag to keep them preserved for your trip home.
In the city of Carcar, lies the home of Cebu’s chicharon. Chicharon from Carcar can have two variations: one that has skin and meat, and another that just has pork skin.
Regardless of the variant, chicharon is best eaten when it’s freshly cooked and is commonly paired with a bowl of vinegar.
Carcar chicharon can be purchased in its public markets. Just make sure to save some to bring home with you as pasalubong because the delicious meaty taste of this chicharon is something you’ll surely miss once you’re away from Cebu.
Lechon de Cebu
And, of course, who can forget the most sinful Cebu delicacy of them all? Lechon de Cebu.
While lechon is a Filipino staple often found in celebrations such as fiestas, birthdays, and weddings, certain cities take it a step further by changing the way they season their lechon. If Metro Manila has its famous La Loma Lechon, the entire province of Cebu is known for its unique way of preparing lechon that will have you asking for vinegar instead of liver sauce.
The first and most important step of making Lechon de Cebu is creating the marinade. Lechon de Cebu’s marinade is a mix of herbs and spices that gives this type of lechon a more fragrant outcome.
While you can pick up a box of frozen Lechon de Cebu at the airport, we highly recommend visiting different eateries so you can bring home a serving of your favorite one.
Rico’s Lechon is a favorite amongst tourists, while Zubuchon is another eatery that’s well-deserving of the praises it receives. However, some have said that the best Lechon de Cebu can be found in Carcar’s public markets where it’s served with a mix of roasted pork drippings to give your taste buds a powerful punch of flavor.
Bringing Home a Taste of Cebu
No matter the locality you visit in Cebu, you’ll surely find something worth craving. As you continue to explore the province of Cebu, why not treat this article as a road map to guide your stomach to some of the best delicacies the Philippines has to offer and purchase some as pasalubong to share with your friends and family?