The humble mongos, paklay, lukut, guso, balbakwa plus cute chorizos on stick and other Cebuano dishes paired with mais (corn), instead of rice, and street food at a well known five star hotel cafe/restaurant? It might be unthinkable to some but there I was, Monday lunch savoring the taste and a smorgasbord of this local cuisine that I can’t help but reminisce about home!
These are the food of my childhood, the stuff that fills my hungry stomach and the dishes that I grew up with. And it was featured in Cafe Marco of the five star Marco Polo Plaza Hotel in Cebu during their Sugbusog 2013 Street Classics, their feature of their monthly Culinary Journey.
The bam-i, a noodle dish that mixes two types of noodles, was well flavored; the mongos soup was delicious but not watery; the balbacua, oh, the balbacua, was the best I tasted: very tender that almost melts in your mouth; and various fresh shells from saang to the aninikad, univalves that to eat the meat, either you have to break the shell or pick it with a small stick.
Dessert didn’t disappoint. Well cooked and sticky biko with a thick sugary syrup atop was a clear winner. There was palitaw, bibingka from Mandaue, budbud kabug (rice cake made from millet and wrapped in banana leaves), konsilba (thinly sliced banana fritters dipped in syrup).
The barbecue station was there and what I really liked was the presence of fresh fish and shellfish that you can have grilled or cooked. On stick were chorizo, pork, liver and other stuff. There was grilled bariles (tuna) that can be found in local markets alongside Cebu lechon, a lunch and dinner mainstay.
Of course, Cebuano cuisine will not be complete without the humble mais done adobo style. Mais is roughly ground corn that is a staple in many provincial tables around Cebu and many still prefer it, instead of rice. When we were children, it was often served at home and eating it again brought a smile to my face. All these accompanied with the melodious sounds and wonderful Cebuano songs by Pilita Corrales, Amalia Fuentes, and Max Surban played in the background!
The Sugbusog 2013 Street Classics of Cafe Marco is the hotel’s offering for the month of January in time for the Sinulog. This culinary journey dishes, selected especially by Ms. Jessica Avila is only until this Sunday, 20 January. Other than the Cebuano dishes, Cafe Marco still has their buffet mainstays like Chinese, Japanese, salads, different kind of pastries and appetizers.