The Art of Cebuano Cuisine At Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Cebu Street Food
Cebu Street Food

Last night’s dinner dedicated to
Sugbusog, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s longest and most iconic Culinary Journey was a revelation to me. Cafe Marco will be featuring Cebuano Food classics and favorites in their premier buffet from January 15-21.

I was so excited about piling food on my plate that I forgot to secure a place in one of the tables before heading over to the buffet. I ended up being seated among Cebu’s prominent Lifestyle and Food writers. I felt nervous being with them even though we’ve met several times during events.  

I was in awe and maybe a little bit intimidated while eating and having small talk with the likes of Jaime Picornell, Honey Jarque-Loop, Nestor Alfonso, Cookie Newman, and Flor Ynclino. It was a good thing that Marco Polo Plaza's Communications Manager, Manna Alcaraz, was there to keep the conversation going.

They shared how the Sinulog celebration was quite different before compared to now. Mr. Picornell also relayed a wonderful but simple recipe that his wife would prepare for him. We also tackled fashion during the 20th century particularly the 1950s-1970s.

Pancit Luglug
Pancit Luglug

Doc Nestor’s famous Adobo and Aissa Arambulo Dela Cruz’s special take on Pancit Luglug are featured dishes in the Sugubusog Gihapon gallery of eats. As I was sampling as much food that I could and listening to these vanguards of journalism, I was thinking of the art of Cebuano cooking and how it transcends tradition, culture and generations.

Fresh is Best

I was amazed by the smorgasboard of Kinilaw varieties that Cafe Marco has prepared. There’s tuna, puso ng saging, lato, guso, lukot, and eggplant. The freshness of the ingredients (calamansi, ginger, onions, chillies) coupled with that unmistakable flavor of sourness from vinegar, truly makes Kinilaw a crowd-pleaser.


Fry, Baby, Fry

It wouldn’t be a Cebuano festival if there weren’t fried foods. From the streets of Cebu to classy dining rooms, fried fare knows no boundaries. Pairing them with the different sauces that Cebuanos are familiar with adds an extra level of yumminess. Frying food is a matter of convenience as well. But, for better results, some cooks or chefs marinate their meats and fishes before frying them.

Chicharon Bulaklak
Chicharon Bulaklak

Just Grill It

Grilling over hot coals is traditional Philippine cookery. The aroma of smokiness extends to the flavor. We, Filipinos, can eat barbecued meats, seafood, veggies everyday. Whether the food is covered in sauce or au natural, grilling is an art form. From chicken parts and intestines to pork to chorizo de Cebu even hotdogs are favorite items that Cebuanos love to barbecue and grill.

Cebuano Grilled Food
Chorizo de Cebu, chicken, pork

Boil, Broil, Bubble

Our ancestors have been boiling, broiling, and stewing even before the Spanish conquest. Water is life and with just a pot of it over fire brings endless possibilities. We boil root crops, fruits, meat, and fish. Simplicity at its finest.

Cebuano Boiled food
Steamed bananas, corn, eggs, kamote, and peanuts

Taking It Slow

With the invention of the pressure cooker, meals that would normally take hours to prepare can now be done in a shorter period of time. In some ways, the food loses a particular essence when done in a pressure cooker.

You have to slow cook Caldereta na Kanding to achieve the right tenderness of the meat or that gelatinous dimension in Balbacua. You will savor each bite.


If you truly want a Sugbusog experience, don’t hesitate to make a reservation in Cafe Marco by calling 032-253-1111 or email them at


Anonymous said…
Great article.
Anonymous said…
Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.