in Cebu City


by Eelee Soo

Cebu city has plenty of historic attractions and entertainment, but truth be told, we did not do much besides eating and getting our money’s worth of massages.


Zubuchon Lechon - Cebu City’s Pride


Raved as the “Best Pig Ever” by the famed American chef, author, and television personality, Anthony Bourdain, we couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with Zubuchon's lechon. Classed as one of the must-try in Cebu, we had the original lechon, which was sticky crispy on the outside but incredibly moist and tender inside. The meat was somewhat herby in taste, reminding us of one of our local dish, Bak Kut Teh.


While we did not think it was the “Best Pig Ever”, it was definitely worth a try, especially when it’s complemented with the local sauce (vinegar, soya sauce, chilli padi, lime, garlic and lechon flakes),the refreshing Kamias shake and the crispy pork skin, which can also be eaten as a snack. The best part about it all, there’s no MSG added so you can feel a little less guilty about stuffing your face here at Zubuchon.


One Mango Mall
General Maxilom Ave, Cebu City
+63 32 2395697

Abacá Group – Creating New Waves in the Heart of Cebu


A sensational group with a luxurious resort and six food and beverage establishments under its belt, abacá is definitely the name to look out for. During our time in Cebu city, we managed to check out two of the establishments, Maya, a Mexican themed restaurant and bar, as well as abacá Baking Company, which were both located at Crossroads Mall, Banilad.  


Maya set a really high benchmark for the abacá group. From the restaurant’s décor to its service and quality of food, our dining experience was one to be remembered. The service staff was thoughtful, the décor was grand and elusive, the portions were fresh and generous, and most importantly the mojitos and margaritas might be one of the best in the city. For the tequila enthusiasts or the adventure seekers, you are in for a treat! Have a go at some of the finest tequila at the bar on the second level of the property.


We also had a chance to pop by abacá Baking Company, which was one of the few upscale cafés in Cebu. While we like the whole idea and familiarity of it, do not expect anything extraordinary here. The coffee was great for an afternoon boost-me-up but doesn’t come anywhere close to what we have here in Singapore. But with the pastry selection and cosiness of the property, it is no doubt a good spot to chill and spend the afternoon. While you are there, have a go at their homemade breads and the lemon meringue tart.

Crossroads Mall
Banilad Cebu City 6000, Philippines

Casa Verde – American Diner with American Portions


If you love American food, their portions or just a slab of good old ribs, Casa Verde is the place for you. This little diner located at The Walk is unpretentious and homely, making anyone who walks through the door feel like a valued member of the family. While the menu was nothing fancy (typical of a diner), the food more than speaks for itself. We ordered a serving of the famous Brian’s Ribs and David Dean’s Tenderloin and was pleasantly surprised by how generous the servings were.


The tender ribs drizzled with their house BBQ sauce was so tender it melts in your mouth almost instantly. While the homemade BBQ sauce was rich, it was not too much that it leaves you feeling sick after two spoonfuls. Instead, it leaves a nice tangy aftertaste that complemented the meat incredibly well. Not to forget, the David Dean’s Tenderloin was also a great choice with the meat nicely done to our requested medium rare, which continues to challenge some of the best restaurants, even in Singapore. Sandwiched between huge dollops of mash potato, topped with cheese and drizzled with a special brown sauce and sauteed onions, this dish is definitely a worthy companion to the bestselling ribs. Definitely not for the faint hearted, each dish here is probably more suitable for two, or as a sharing platter.


The Walk, A104, Asiatown IT Park
Cebu City, Philippines, 6000
+63 32 412.3336


Henry Hotel – A Boutique Hotel Done Right


The Henry Hotel Cebu has been creating a buzz in the Philippine hospitality industry with its out-of-the-box interior setting and remarkable service standards. Boutique hotels have the common misconception of being small, fuss free and with limited facilities. Determined to shed this image, Henry Hotel has been designed with all the quirks of a characteristic boutique hotel, with the perks of a business hotel.


Let’s start with the size of the room, it is huge. The smallest room comes with 36square metre of individual space, which is one of the biggest room I have stayed in for a boutique hotel. Complete with all the little extras to make every guest stay as comfortable as it can ever be, the room is equipped with a 32-inch LCD cable TV, DVD player, personal refrigerator, safety deposit box, mini-bar, handheld and rain shower, complimentary WiFi and the likes. Each room is also unique in creating a different ambience ranging from a classic pop art scene to the whimsical spin of the European culture.


The warm and inviting lobby boasts of eccentric touches and artwork by Delphine de Lorme, a French artist famous for her provocative paintings that injected colours and texture to the property’s industrial shell. Within the hotel’s compound you will also find an outdoor swimming pool, a boutique, a restaurant, a salon, an art gallery and even a reading room. The hotel is also ideally located in an area where one will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options, as well as relaxing day spas.


One Paseo Compound, Ma Luisa Entrance Road
Banilad, Cebu City 5000
T: +63 32 520 8877


Movenpick, Mactun - Escape + Enjoy


Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu is a five-star Mediterranean-inspired beachfront hotel located on the lush and tropical island. Following its grand opening in December 2012, the hotel has become renowned for its extensive multi-million-dollar transformation, incorporating 245 balcony rooms overlooking the pool or sea, one-of-a-kind dining concept and its unique beach club facility, Ibiza Beach Club.


Reminiscent of the club atmosphere in the Spanish party island, Ibiza Beach Club is by far the trendiest beachside venue on Cebu. This stylish gathering place is home to the most authentic Balearic style churrasco, a hearty feast of all-you-can-eat barbecue offering nine kinds of meat and four kinds of seafood. Encapsulating the ultimate beach club experience, the beach club also boasts daily live shows including themes like Disney films, Retro Pop, Latin, fire exhibition dance shows, all choreographed in-house by the entertainment director from Majorca, Spain Paco Beltran.


Offering its own pristine stretch of private, white reef sand beach, and marine sanctuary, guests can snorkel or dive to explore the island’s exotic marine life within the blink of an eye. Alternatively, make use of the beach with the property’s share of lifestyle activities including Yoga, Pilates, Water Aerobics, Zumba dance classes, among many others. So if you are looking for a place for the whole family, look no further!


Punta Engaño, Mactan Island

Cebu, Philippines
T: +63 32 492 7777


The Spa at Cebu – Relaxation Redefined


As one of the pioneers in Cebu’s spa industry, The Spa at Cebu has plenty to offer. Situated in a 3,000 square metre compound in Banilad, the spa greets you with a calm and friendly atmosphere. Nestled among landscape gardens are soothing treatment rooms, practical function halls and complete spa facilities for all to take refuge from the busy lifestyle of today’s world.


Their services range from foot and body massages to facials and even diamond peeling at wallet friendly prices. The professional therapists apply long, strong strokes with the use of their palms, fingers and knuckles to kneed the tight muscles, and relieve the tension.  For honeymoon goers, do check out their Honeymoon Spa Suite package for an overnight stay including two hours of aromatherapy massage and use of all spa facilities, including sauna, steam room, bath and Jacuzzi.


#1 Paseo Saturnino
Maria Luisa Road
Banilad, CEBU CITY

+ 63 32 4120 888


Meddah Spa – Excellence in Total Beauty, Health and Well-Being


Located at Crossroads Mall, Banilad, Meddah Spa is a good stopover to rejuvenate before or after dinner. The massages are slightly cheaper than The Spa at Cebu, but do not offer the same space and facilities. However, there are plenty of massages for you to choose from here, such as Shiatsu, Hot Stone, Lomi Lomi and the local HILOT. We tried the Shiatsu massage, which is a great choice if you want a deep tissue massage without having to feel greasy throughout dinner. The Japanese bodywork focuses on localised finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. True enough, it was a great relief for us, especially after our early morning flight.


Crossroads Mall
Banilad Cebu City 6000, Philippines

+63 32 2342 080


Grand Royal Spa – Affordable without Compromising on Quality


With four company owned branches and six franchises in Luzon and Vasayas, Grand Royal Spa has come a long way with a bee line of loyal followers. Despite being the most affordable out of the three establishments mentioned, service and quality of massage were not compromised here. For just 368 pesos (less than S$12), you can get an hour of massage in a relaxing environment. The private rooms are no doubt slightly smaller than the other two spas but makes for a great, fuss free massage on the go. Even better, there are plenty of eateries around its Banilad Town Centre outlet so you can enjoy a good meal pre or post massage.


2nd floor Banilad Town Centre
Banilad Road Cebu City
+63 32 416-1724