Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cebu City Street Food Experience: Larsian and Pungko Pungko

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

For a family of 19 staying in Cebu City for five (5) days, it means 15 full meals and lotza lotza snacking!Handsomely,the food takes the biggest chunk of the vacation budget.

Wanting to save a little and to be able to have an authentic Cebu tummy adventure, we considered having two dinners (yesterday and tonight) at what people consider as "streetfood places" And in Cebu you are in for a treat at Larsian and Pungko-Pungko at JY Square in Lahug !

Last night was my nephew JM's 10th birthday and the family was all set to celebrate it at the famous CnT Lechon resto (our family's favorite since I brought home a kilo per family as pasalubong from Cebu years back. Honestly though, I just bought it from CnT Lechon in SM City!).

So for the birthday celebration I searched for the main branch and it was in Guadalupe. We excitedly went there expecting a busy restaurant with a lot of lechon lined up for customers. We were very disappointed to see no lechon,no customers, just regular food in ordinary serving trays as early as 6pm!

To save face with a cranky and hungry family without breaking the budget, we proceeded to Larsian at Fuente Osmena Street.

Larsian Experience

Larsian is one of Cebu's most prominent barbecue havens with tons of barbecue stands offering selections of squid, fish, all parts of chicken and pork cooked as you order. Larsian was a busy place at 7pm (as it opens from late afternoon up until dawn) with all kinds of people rich and poor savoring the unique experience. As everyone enjoyed eating their chosen barbecues with puso (rice wrapped in coconut leaves), my family gamely ate as well with a plastic wrapped around the hands (in lieu of spoon and pork). For a change, we got a birthday cake for dessert!!

Total cost: Php 1,100

Pungko-Pungko at JY Square

To get more of the Cebu street food tripping experience, tonight we walked to the nearby JY Square in Lahug (a few meters away from the Cebu Temple where we were staying) to eat at the well-talked about Pungko Pungko.

Pungko pungko is a Visayan term for the act of squatting. We were told that in the old times, there were no tables and chairs so people would squat down and eat so it was termed "pungko pungko". As the years passed, tables, chairs and tents were added like what we have now.

Unlike Larsian, where chosen barbecue is grilled as you order, pungko pungko food are pre-fried food stuff like egg, veggie roll, pork intestines, chorizo, fish, squid, and a lot more, placed inside square trays or baskets and lined up on the table. Customers just sit down, put plastic around the hands (in lieu of spoon and pork, seems to be the common practice ),get any fried stuff, dip them in spicy vinegar and soy sauce and eat with puso! Customers just memorized what they have eaten for proper accounting at the end.

Though the location was a bit inappropriate (being at a corner of a busy street with smoke belching jeepneys passing by ), the food looks clean and tasted okay. Of course, if you are a bit sensitive I won't recommend the place.

Total Cost: Php 509

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