As dramatic architecture goes, Cebu will have you gasping from the moment you walk in. Vaulted ceilings, decadent draperies, hardwood floors and jewel light fixtures set the stage when you enter this Old City’s luxury restaurant.
Our inspired waiter suggested we start our Pacific voyage off with two “Isle of Cebu” the joint’s signature drink. This incredible mixture of coconut, pineapple, kiwi puree and a healthy pour of the Captain’s Parrot Bay was just what I needed for my jingle-jangled nerves.
Start with the Bolalo Soup ($6), a clear beef broth featuring tender beef, baby bok choy and potatoes topped off with a taste of ginger. Or try the crisp and fresh Cebu Salad ($6), a mix of greens and a slaw of green papaya, mango, peppers and sweet onions all lightly sprinkled in refreshing coconut vinaigrette.
Cebu's menu excels when it comes to their unique and extensive selection of Filipino Tapas, most of which are priced at a modest $6.00. Try the Trifecta ($20) option and munch down three incredible plates. The Pearl Scallops ($7.5) are perfectly cooked and enormous and the Lumpai Shanghai’s ($6.5) Filipino style Spring Roll is spectacular: Ground pork, shrimp, carrots, and scallions all stir-fried with banana sauce and oyster sauce. The Beef Tapa is marinated and tossed with onions, scallions and a smidge of garlic all served with soy vinaigrette.
Save room for the main course and get two of Cebu’s best: The Wood Roasted Salmon and the Paella. The magically seasoned filet of Atlantic salmon is perfectly complimented with a simple but tasty serving of coconut/saffron rice. Plated with a perfect portion of julienne veggies and grilled eggplant, the Salmon plate is healthy and spectacular. Coming in a tight but close second to the salmon is the Paella. A humongous bowl of steaming seafood featuring shrimp, oysters, scallops, sausage, peppers all in saffron and curry rice.
No matter that you’re stuffed after the main course, it’s your civic duty to at least try a dessert. How about the light and moist Tres Leche cake ($3). It’s a fantastic end to a stellar meal.
Cebu, 123 Chestnut St, dinner served 5 to 9 Sun-Thurs, Till 10 Fri & Sat, $$, cebuphiladelphia.com.