Filipino food’s evolution owes a lot to Chinese influences; so much so that when eating Chinese in a food court in, say, Hong Kong, Macau or Shanghai, it’s almost like ordering from a food court here. Yeah, yeah, we have differences (thanks to other influences to our foods – e.g. Spanish, American, et cetera); but really, the Chinese influences just can’t be denied…
It is not surprising, therefore, that eating Chinese continues to be a fave of many. This is even more so when the goodies are not only yummy (albeit greasy, LOL) but are also way cheap.
And when thinking of Chinese food this way, in Cebu City, a must-check is Ngohiong Chinese.
“Ngohiong” is this food that’s like “lumpia” (spring roll), though the filling is different. This place made a name by selling, obviously, ngohiong. The exact combo of what’s inside is a trade secret; but you can taste –ubod (heart of the coconut), singkamas, garlic, spring onions, spices, ground pork/shrimps, and ngohiong powder. It goes without saying, obviously, that this must be tried. And if you’re not sure how good their ngohiong is, consider that this place supposedly earns well over P100,000 per day just from their ngohiong (thanks for the chika/story, Mr. Guard!). This is why the place was named very, very typically: to pay tribute to what made this a HUGE success to begin with.
Now, just to be clear, even if this place is popular, this isn’t fancy at all. In fact, it’s just like any other “karinderya” (eatery), though with somewhat limited offerings. Because it isn’t fancy, in use are monoblocs, tacky curtains, et cetera. Get this: This isn’t a place you’d frequent for the ambiance; instead, you come here just to eat.
Fortunately, the place now has other delicacies, from “alimango” (crab) meat to “longganisa” (chorizo) to pork BBQ to stuffed egg to fresh “lumpia” to “atchara” (preserved shredded green papaya). You eat any of these, or all of them, with “puso” (rice cooked while wrapped heart-shaped in woven coconut leaves).
WHY GO THERE
In three words: Cheap good food. One ngohiong, for instance, sells just for P7.00. The accompanying “puso”? P3.00! Except for the chicken slices (selling for P50.00), just about everything here is under P15.00 (!).
A big plus is seeing where the locals eat – e.g. during lunch, see a snake-like queue as people from all walks of life flock here.
WHY AVOID IT
In one word: Grease.
Almost everything is fried, so…
Plus – as was said – the place isn’t “pa-sosyal” (classy), so not everyone may feel comfy eating there (though if this is so, you can also do take-out).
IN THE END…
If the goal is to discover food areas in Cebu City, then this place is a must-check. Obviously, it helps that it’s not that far from downtown Cebu City. It helps, too, that the price of what’s there is (scarily) cheap. And yes, it helps that it’s a good way to immerse – i.e. be with the locals where they grab chow.
No, there are no stereotypical Chinese delicacies here (fried veggies and the like; or dumplings and the like). Instead, here we have Filipinized “other” Chinese offerings. And if this is what’s craved, well, head over to Ngohiong Chinese.
Ngohiao Chinese is located at Junquera St., Cebu City.