Friday, March 2, 2012

Cebu Food Trip: SU TU KIL

After 21 hours of  travel on  plane, train and all things in between, we finally arrived in Cebu. One more plane ride to Mindanao and I would be home. Since the next plane to my island would have us wait for 6 hours at the airport, we decided to stay in Cebu for a night before travelling further. I was a wrecked and it shows. After a hasty shower ( Praise Batman!) I almost dragged  an equally weary  FF to the place where I have been researching for months. ( Read: Me in front of the PC, drooling over some pictures of food!)

 Since our hotel is smack in the middle of the growing touristic location  and resort laden Mactan, we decided to pay the monumental site of Magellan's battle  a visit but we were famished  and longing for real food so we headed off for some chow .  Lapu Lapu can wait, I can't. Not that I'm ungrateful for the set meal that I got on the plane. It was not bad  but I never really enjoy food when I'm 10 000 meter  above earth's orbit. Fear of flying, small contained spaces, high altitude and low air  pressure  somehow dampens what little appetite that I have . As my feet touch the soil , moi appetito came back with gusto. I wanted fresh food, cooked in a way I liked it and not microwave heated, packed meals . A girl could wish.

Real plates, spoons and fork thank you very much!

Just a few minutes ride away from our hotel is a cluster  of al fresco Sutukil restaurants.  Su-Tu-Kil are shortened Cebuano words that stand for the method of cooking different dishes. Su for sugba meaning grill, Tu for tuwa which is soup and Kil for Kilaw,  foods mainly   fish , marinated in vinegar concoction.These are just the three main dishes, typically offered in such places.  On these restaurants, smorgasbord of seafood  are laid affront the restaurant to entice on lookers. We arrived around 3 in the afternoon and it looks like the some of 'freshly caught' spread have already seen better days .

After some small talk with our taxi driver who became our guide , we found out that SuTuKil area used to be a hole in the wall eateries on Mactan's seaside that serve  locals . Then tourism blooms and Korean invaded Mactan, there's no blood spilt. They bought land, build resorts and give Mactan area a boost . I guess if Magellan were to come today, he could be sitting at this bay drinking SMB with Lapu Lapu. Ok, I'M drifting off. Anyway, the small stalls grew big and like most thriving businesses, competitors sprout like mushrooms. Bigger and better Su Tu Kil restaurants pop all over the place and as  the place rocks sky high , so has the prices. Only very few locals come today,  nowadays it  caters mostly tourists,  both Filipinos and foreigners. Competition among restaurant owner is palpable and yes audible. Once you step into the street, salesman  from each restaurant zooms up to your face and do what they think they do best. Persuade. ''Ma'am! Ma'am!  Sir!  Sir! Diri! Diri sa amoa ! Lami kaayo, presko! Barato ra!'' Ma'am! Ma'am! Sir! Sir! Come to our restaurant. We offer delicious foods. It's fresh! It's cheap!  Each trying to convince costumers that their restaurant have the best offer.  All these men talk..... at the same time it's overwhelming and yes almost irritating . Much to our chagrin, few offered to be our ''Umbrella Man''. Oh come on! I could carry my own umbrella! I'm not J.Lo and FF is certainly not P.Diddy! We were laughing just to hide our discomfort. With bickering salesman  hot on our heels, the first restaurant that we saw provides us an escape hatch and we did not even bother looking at its competitor's offer. My bad. Jet Lag, ....nerves....hungry.

 I try to blend in  while being in the Phil. walking the walk and talking the talk of the locals , hey,  I'm as  native as native could get but having a 6 ft. tall, fair skinned, blue eyed companion  simply gave me away. No matter how much I tried  and even if I could speak their  dialect, people knew we were tourist. And in a place like this, tourist tend to pay more since they get 'tourist' prices, if you catch my drift.

Each of these restaurants have second or three levels/stories. Some even have air conditions but why go there when you can have fresh air and nice view of sea? This particular restaurant  uses indigenous materials common in the Philippines such as Abacas and bamboos. Sea shells and corals adorned the entire place.

Open air restaurant with a view of Mactan sea..

And so I, FF and his new found friend/taxi driver shared this spread:

The camaron rebosado was a tad too dry for my taste. It was probably cooked too long, since it end up rather chewy. The shrimps lost all its succulence.

 I have been dreaming for weeks eating this. It certainly looks promising but it failed to perk me up and FF, being a sweet and sour fan was somehow disappointed. The fish did not taste fresh and the sauce, well, it tasted sweet and errr sweet? Too much banana ketchup if you ask me. There was very little sour agent to balance the sweetness of the sauce. We still lap it up anyway.Hehe

Probably the best dish we had that day. Seasoned well and fried to a crisp, this Calamares was my favorite. I could have all to myself but it was thankfully big enough for three.

We went againts the norm while eating at Su Tu Kil since we did not eat Sugma, Tuwa or Kilaw. We had everything fried down to this Shanghai fried rice. I might as well call it a Pri-Pri-Pri meal. Pri for Prito ( fried).(^_^)

I had high hopes for this meal, after reading a lot of promising reviews, I guess I set my expectations too high but  this  first  homecoming meal failed to impress me. I guess it could have been different if we checked the whole place out. Here are just few thumbs down reasons.

  •  Hoping to get freshly cooked food, I notice that all our food came lukewarm. Even the sweet and sour fish was not hot. I guess being in a country that has a minimum temp. of 27°c, serving a dish hot goes at the bottom of quality ladder.

  • The overzelous sale representative is a big turn off. I hope they would give costumers some space to choose and contemplate and not ganging up to them in unison!

  • Lastly, I was astonished when I got the bill. It was almost twice as I expected. The foods are weigh before cooking and I did a mental calculation after making our order, adding about 2 to 3  hundred ''cooking fee'' for the dishes. Now, I have no qualms paying for foods I consumed but I do look what I get for my money and in this instance, I somehow feel ripped off. I reckon, we could have twice as much foods and certainly way more delicious somewhere else. The opposite restaurant perhaps?


1 comment:

  1. emily ikaw na gid ni ah....u'r making me hungry again & crave for sutukil..wahhhhhhhhhh


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