Living

These Local Restaurants Will Make Your Mouth Water

The past couple of years have made eating out at restaurants a rare occurrence. Still, that hasn’t stopped these establishments from creating and offering some of the most enjoyable dining experiences in Cebu. Check out some small bites of Keeta features on restaurants in Cebu that deserve to be on your must-try list.

For your next trip down south: Kugita

Photos by Chester Baldicantos

“[Chef Jay Garife’s] background at Tsunami unleashes a tidal wave of flavors in his sushis and makis. Tasty shrimp tempura is torched to a smoky finish to echo that in the eel sauce, and the salty but delicate flavor of the shrimp sauce it is drizzled with in the Tempura Roll. Fish-of-the-day marries cream cheese, and that relationship is spiced up by sriracha then grounded, yet again, by eel sauce, in their signature Kugita Roll.

I’d go on with the rest of the menu items but as there is so much more to discover about the octopus, so is there so much […] best left to experience and discover for yourself. As to his formula, Chef Jay chalks it up to the time-honored elements of passion, prowess, and produce. Beaming through pearly whites made more brilliant against his enviable permatan, he adds hard work and perseverance in another play on words as adept as his kitchen skills, ‘Kugi ‘ta (let’s work hard).'”

by Michael Karlo Lim

For scratching your travel itch: AJ Thai Cuisine

Photo by Nath Ybañez

“Winiver ‘Win’ Agcang uprooted his family from two decades of life in Thailand to settle back in the Philippines after the birth of his son, the eponymous Arun Jedrick. They celebrated their first Sinulog in 2019 opening a Pinoy lutong-bahay with his wife, Beverly, to a lukewarm response in a neighborhood chockfull of similar setups. Taking from his exposure to authentic Thai cuisine, he started to serve a few Thai items for dinner service to the delight of his regulars.”

“There’s nostalgia for those hanging on to their vivid gustatory memories of the Land of Smiles and there’s discovery and sheer enjoyment for those who have yet to tick it off their bucket lists. Either way, Winiver’s way back home makes it a win for both his family and his newfound family of fans. Aroi mak!”

by Michael Karlo Lim

For finding hidden gems

Photos by Ezekiel Sullano

DIMES Bistro + Coffee

“The two friends who call each other ‘bb’ for ‘basketball buddies’—I know, it’s so cute—don’t make the conscious effort to be different and stand out. Instead, they do their own thing the best way they know how. Paul takes care of the more administrative side of things like purchasing and finance, while Geno takes care of the food and marketing. Their complementary partnership is a success story in the arena of doing business with friends. They are currently full-time with DIMES, while taking care of their own families. These 30-ish guys’ guys believe that no matter where you are, if your food is good, people will find their way to you.”

Pukot Kitchen

“Today, Pukot transforms with its crowd as the day unfurls with their “come as you are” philosophy. During the day, it’s a brunch place where families gather. In the afternoon, it’s a café where people come with their laptops to work or study. When the sun sets, it becomes a hangout for couples and friends to enjoy dinner and cocktails after. No matter the hour, the intimacy and warmth of Pukot is present all throughout, that they might as well put a “Welcome Home” mat at the door.”

Tales & Feelings

“Everything was delectable. Although their offerings have been a hit, Julian tweaks the menu almost every week to avoid getting boxed in. He wants to continue evolving and making luxury accessible as they also offer catering services for intimate set-ups. Through the lowest of valleys and the highest of mountains, human resilience transcends when there is love. The family behind Tales & Feelings is an example of this.”

by Micah Almazan

For the cherry on top of your work week: Weekend

Photos by Ezekiel Sullano

“The signature Fat Bastard is served anew in version X—extra deliciousness. What was an overnight marinade is now a two-and-a-half-day curing of the Frenched pork chop. A three-hour smoking before a flash-grilling and an oven-finish renders it ultra-tender and incredibly flavorful. Umami-rich anchovy butter and the Gagaoili boosts the meatiness of the dish. Served with a choice of garlic rice, mashed potatoes, french fries, or salad, that one would—no, could only—go bite after eager bite agrees with Brillat-Savarin: ‘You are what you eat.'”

by Michael Karlo Lim

For the health-conscious diner: Happy Hippos

Photo by Rocky Roska

“The past few years have shown all of us just how important it is to maintain your health and take care of your body, and Happy Hippos is, in its way, changing people’s views on what it means to eat healthy food. Going healthy does not have to mean sacrificing flavor, and in such difficult times, enjoying the good things is necessary. ‘You also need to enjoy life, because mental health is also important,’ Eryn says. ‘That’s my belief, and I want to incorporate that into the food.'”

by Bernice Quimbo

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