Cebu Restaurant Abu Dhabi – Have it the Filipino way

While walking on the streets of Khalidiya district in Abu Dhabi searching for a store to get a new shirt to replace the “soaked-in-sweat” shirt I wore after a long walk/jog at corniche, I bumped into one distinct restaurant just beside the mosque in Zayed The First Street at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant. It can be recognized as truly Pinoy as its name is similar to one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines, Cebu. Cebu Restaurant simply offers Pinoy style cooking at Abu Dhabi’s busy district.  The restaurant occupies a small two-storey building. On the first floor is the turo-turo section where you could order the ready cooked meals. More tables are found on the second floor with LCD TV mounted on the wall showing ABS-CBN TFC programs. With its size, it could accommodate perhaps around 30 people.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

At the resto's 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

At the resto’s 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Cebu Restaurant offers a wide array of Pinoy dishes from the usual breakfast meals like tapsilog, bangsilog, hotsilog etc., their sizzlings bulalo steak, tanigue, pusit, chicken fillet, and their seafood-based dishes like sinigang, sweet and sour fish fillet, ginataang tilapia, bangus (grilled/daing) among others. Chicken meals are likewise served such as inasal, tinola, kaldereta and adobo. But I also found out that they offer not so Pinoy like chicken cordon bleu, orange-ginger chicken and terriyaki. Beef meals include humba, steak, kare-kare, nilaga, sinigang, bulalo, kaldereta and even papaitan. Desserts like halo-halo, biko, maja blanca and biko are also available.

The restaurants menu list.

The restaurants menu list.

So what we got for our dinner? We ordered their recommended dishes, probably their best seller. We got sinigang na hipon, sizzling tanigue steak, chopsuey, beef steak and grilled bangus. Their food is typical Pinoy with perhaps infusion of their own cooking style. Admittedly, what we had savored were similar to other Pinoy dishes we had previously tried. But, we did enjoy our dining experience knowing that it is one of those that carries Filipino identity in Abu Dhabi.

The restaurant's sinigang na hipon. Not that I didn't like, but I prefer a bit sour.  Syaoran liked this.

The restaurant’s sinigang na hipon (AED 22). Not that I didn’t like, but I prefer a bit sour. This is okay with Syaoran, though he said his mother’s sinigang is still the best.

Sizzling tanigue steak. I think I was the only one who ate this.

Sizzling tanigue steak (AED 28). I think I was the only one who ate this.

Chopsuey - made up of chicken cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Chopsuey (AED 15) – stir fried chicken meat cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Beef steak - thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice garnished with onion rings.

Beef steak (AED 20) – thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice with sliced potatoes garnished with onion rings.

Inihaw na bangus - grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inihaw na bangus – grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like ginger, onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inside of grilled bangus with its stuffing.

Grilled bangus with all its stuffing.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

“Have it the Filipino way” is Cebu Restaurant’s slogan. It tries to bring Filipino culture closer to the Arabs while at the same time offers our kababayans Pinoy home-cooked food at affordable prices. It is but best for Pinoy expats living in Abu Dhabi or Pinoy tourists visiting the place to support our own. Ika nga, tangkilikin ang sariling atin.

Cebu Restaurant

Zayed The First Street, Khalidiya

Beside Lebanese Flower Restaurant

Telephone: 02 665-2886

Zubuchon- arguably Cebu’s best lechon

The four of us who have been friends for more than a decade usually find time to spend a couple of days or more in an out-of-town trip around the country. In the list for this year was Samal Island and Davao city, but due to bad weather that caused flooding in some parts of the city, we all agreed to fly to Cebu instead. The first thing that comes in my mind when we landed Cebu city was lechon– suckling pigs slowly roasted over open fire (usually in charcoal). I was craving for this food since I arrived in Iloilo for my short break but got no chance to munch in any of those restaurants we had visited. And since I was in Cebu, I definitely grabbed that chance. It is said that Cebu has arguably the best lechon in the country and that this city is synonymous to lechon.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

After we settled our things in hotel, I approached the reception and asked where to go to taste Cebu’s lechon for our lunch. She right away mentioned Zubuchon in Escario Street. Perhaps because it is near to where we were staying and a jeepney ride from Capitol site where our hotel was located. Zubuchon is a casual dining restaurant. As we entered the place, their waiters approached us eagerly and led us to our table. We scanned the menu and ordered for a start a large serving of lechon, lechon dinuguan, and ginataang langka with daing. We wanted to try more food listed on their menu but decided to reserve some for our next round of food raves.

Zubuchon's best selling lechon.

Zubuchon’s best selling lechon.

Ginataang langka with daing

Ginataang langka with daing

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Zubuchon’s lechon is certainly their all time best seller. It was proclaimed by the famous TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, as “the best pig ever”. Bourdain said in the site, blog.travelchannel.com, “it can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.” And that was in Zubuchon. This catapulted Philippines as the top in Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork. Proud of the distinction, Zubuchon wrote such title and Anthony Bourdain’s name on the glass in their restaurant.

Written on the glass wall inside is, "Best Pig.. Ever" - Anthony Bourdain.

Written on the glass wall inside is, “Best Pig.. Ever” – Anthony Bourdain.

But what really makes their lechon so special that a lot of people ques during meal time and those who previously dined keep on coming back? Personally what I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers. The meat is tender and juicy but it seems just the same average lechon meat I had tasted before, but the herbs that they use as stuffs are savored. I ultimately found out that their lechon is still cooked the old way. And what is good is that they don’t use glutamate nor brushes their pigs with artificially flavored sauce.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

Never got enough of Zubuchon, thus we returned for our dinner during our last day but at this time in their Mango branch. Similarly, we ordered a plate of lechon and dinuguan which was our instant favorite from the first time we ate at Escario. We also got squid stuffed with Zubuchon lechon sisig and seaweed platter vinaigrette. For drinks we ordered, their kamias shake which they recommended to balance off lechon’s fattiness, though it really is a refreshing drink. The mixed flavors of sweetness and sourness were playing in the mouth.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

There maybe other restaurants in Cebu specializing in lechon, but Zubuchon satisfied our craving. Our dining experience in both Escario and Mango branches was good that definitely deserves a come back.