Where to Eat in Cebu: Hukad sa Golden Cowrie

There are days when you are just craving for the comforts of Filipino food. Something familiar to your taste buds. Something reliable, so to speak. On one such day in Cebu, I felt this craving and my sister suggested that we eat in Hukad sa Golden Cowrie. She stayed in Cebu for an entire month a few months back (how I envy her!!!), and she claims that Hukad is absolutely the best Filipino restaurant she has ever tried in her life. I have yet to know.

Along with a whole host of dining options, Hukad sa Golden Cowrie is located at the Terraces in Ayala Center Cebu. After checking the mall directory, I found that it was near La Maison, another place I was desperate to try. As it turns out, the map wasn’t updated as La Maison had already closed down. Good thing it did, otherwise I would’ve insisted on eating there and I would’ve missed the awesomeness that is Hukad sa Golden Cowrie.

Golden Cowrie is actually a popular restaurant chain in Cebu, serving family-style Filipino cuisine. Hukad sa Golden Cowrie is a special name given to the branch in Ayala Center. Upon entering, we were greeted by the friendly staff and were seated at a corner table for six. I was happy there was plenty of space—I felt like ordering a group meal that’s good for six. LOL!

love the plate with banana leaves!
elegant and classy but casual atmosphere

even the unli-rice container matches the interior design and theme! LOVE IT!
(READ THIS, Mang Inasal and Tokyo Tokyo)
We agreed to choose one dish each and unlimited rice (P39) for everyone. I ordered that which caught my attention first: the Adobong Talong. I have eaten grilled eggplants, but not those that are cooked adobo style. Besides I’m so sure my sister and my Mom would get meat entrees, so I opted for one that consisted of vegetable.

The Adobong Talong was served quickly, and after the mandatory food porn, I lunged into it. What I noticed about Cebu cooking is that the chefs here are so fond of garlic (everything I ate in Lantaw Floating Restaurant was laden with garlic). And I’m not complaining—I love garlic! It adds a delightful kick to whatever dish, but I liked how this Adobong Talong held its own flavor without letting the garlic bits steal the show.

One might say, “What’s so fucking special with talong?” but trust me—you have to taste Hukad’s Adobong Talong and your perception of eggplants just might change, haha!

Hukad sa Golden Cowrie's Adobong Talong, P79
My sister picked the Chicken Halang-halang—Visayas’ version of the Bicol Express. Chicken cubes, green peas, and potatoes swimming in a sauce composed of coconut milk, chili pepper, and ginger. If an idiom such as “spicy tooth” exists—yes, I’ll be the first to claim that I have it! I loved how the chicken was cut into small pieces, so that the spiciness dominated. I swear I was on the edge of my seat while eating!

Chicken Halang-halang, P98

My Mom, who earlier swore that she was on a diet, chose the Crispy Pork Kare-kare. Hukad sa Golden Cowrie’s rendition is a deconstructed version: steamed vegetables, liempo that was fried to perfection, a separate container for the Kare-kare sauce, and some bagoong.

The sauce tasted EXACTLY LIKE my Lola’s Kare-kareOMG!! (imagine this in font size 1000)—that I wanted to smash dinnerware against the glass window! No restaurant has ever replicated my Lola’s cooking before. Of course, this is a biased opinion, seeing as I grew eating whatever my grandmother prepared, but then again you can always ask the opinions of the selected few friends I have invited over at my house in special occasions! A consistent comment from them was that they all wanted to move in after discovering the delicious kind of food I get to eat everyday!

This Kare-kare sauce was made of ground roasted peanuts, I’m so sure of it, not like the cheap ones made of peanut butter (ewww, disgusting). I found the bagoong a little sweeter that I would’ve liked, but it still complemented the Kare-kare very well. And can I just leave one word for the crispy and tender meat: PERFECT.

Crispy Pork Kare-kare, P198
Impressed with the three dishes we ordered, we decided to get one more: Cowrie’s Kinilaw na Isda (similar to ceviche).

Since the fish used for this kind of dish is raw and marinated only in vinegar and lemon, I don’t eat kinilaw anywhere because of the risk of food poisoning, but Hukad sa Golden Cowrie’s is so fresh, and the fish cubes glide and melt inside the mouth, and I’m aware that this is already a running sentence, but this perfectly conveys the feelings evoked upon tasting this dish. Too bad I was already full—I could feel an assortment of ingredients stuck in my esophagus—but we really couldn’t finish the Kinilaw na Isda anymore.

Cowrie's Kinilaw na Isda, P179
For dessert we had the Binignit, Cebu’s version of the Ginataang Halo-halo. I have written about this dessert in an earlier post, and I swear that your notion of Ginataan would never be the same after trying this.

Total damage for this lunch consisting of 3 entrees, one appetizer (kinilaw), 3 sets of unli-rice, 3 Coke-in-cans, and one dessert: ~P960. Honestly, this is an incredibly cheap lunch considering that the food we just ate was totally, irrevocably awesome! I would be willing to pay double for such a fantastic meal—in Manila, I’m sure that would be the case if we ate in high-end Filipino restos.

I want Golden Cowrie to open in Manila but I wonder if they would still be able to offer the same quality of food for the same price.

If you’re craving for the taste of home-cooked meals, and are looking for a place with a classy, homey and nostalgic atmosphere, Hukad sa Golden Cowrie is the restaurant to try when you're in Cebu. Toss in friendly service and affordable prices, and I don’t know what more you could ask for. My bliss in discovering Hukad is equal to that emotion I felt when we were in Lantaw—that kind of joy you feel when you find something perfect and indescribable.

Hukad sa Golden Cowrie

Level 2, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu

Don’t miss any of these posts in the Cebu 2013 series:

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