On our last day in Cebu City, our group ate lunch at Chika-an sa Cebu before heading to the airport and buying some pasalubong. You know the part about Filipino restaurants which overdo on rattan furniture just to look local? This one didn’t 😀 It had nice, contemporary interiors, just like Cafe Laguna. Diners also have a choice between staying indoors (for airconditioning) or outdoors (for smoking or just smelling the breeze).
The part that I liked best was the menu. Mostly, it was the thrill of seeing familiar dishes from my childhood. I really don’t get these in Manila. Food like buwad, utan bisaya, nangka salad etc. Correct me if am wrong, but I haven’t really seen a mainstream Visayan resto in Manila (unless you know one?), except for outlets of the much in-demand Cebu lechon and Bacolod chicken inasal. This is what made dining in Chika-an a bit exciting.
First up was the house bestseller, pochero with meat (P245). I don’t remember this dish from Southern Leyte, our province, so it must be Cebu’s own. Tagalogs would normally know of pochero as a meat dish with tomato sauce and garbanzos, among others. Chika-an’s was more like nilaga, at best. The only difference was the mouthwatering piece of beef shank or bulalo, with fall-off-to-the-bone goodness of the meat. There were also bits of sliced tomatoes and squash in this soup, but it was all good just the same.
Baked scallops in the half-shell, a steal at P125. Mostly, I liked the visual appeal of this photo, but the taste was also irresistible. The Visayas Region is the country’s major source of seafood and this explains the abundance and affordability of most seafood in the area.
Rellenong alimango , or sauteed crabmeat placed in half of a crab shell and topped with egg batter – a popular Filipino dish. The resto’s version (for P110 an order) was better than the one I tasted at Aboy’s in Bacolod. I guess the secret of this dish is seasoning it right and having more of the crabmeat taste.
Unknown to most, Visayan food also uses a lot of coconuts and coco-related ingredients for its base and flavoring, for the simple reason that the region is abundant in coconuts. Perhaps, this is the inspiration behind the resto’s spicy shrimp in coco cream (P150). This dish was good, except that it had way too many garnishing like ginger, which I don’t like too much.
The Panggalatok among us (read: The Boss 😀 ) ordered Pinakbet with Chicharon at P78. This Visayan version of the pinakbet didn’t disappoint too. Aside from having all the veggies that I liked (and needed), it had a savory sauce and sinful chicharon (deep-fried pork rind) on top. Have you heard of Carcar chicharon? It’s one of Cebu’s great delicacies 😀
When in Cebu and you’re ready to eat grilled meat, fish or seafood, don’t forget the traditional Filipino sawsawan (dip) of kalamansi, chopped onions, tomato and siling labuyo with vinegar and/or soy sauce. At least in Chika-an, this was part of their routine 😀
The Pinipig Delight @ P43 was my favorite from the resto. An irresistible drink of crushed ice, pinipig, dried coconut bits, milk and tasty latik. Winner ‘to! Would love to order this again (and again, hehe) and go back to Chika-an sa Cebu AGAIN!
Chika-an Sa Cebu
Juana Osmena Street, Cebu City
Tel. No. (032) 253 6221