Sutukil: The Seafood Obsession in Cebu

Fish sold at a Sutukil restaurant

Eating fresh seafood is a very important part of the Cebuano way of life.

Cebu is home to some of the best foods that the Philippines can offer, from lechon (roasted pig) to Cebuano delicacies. However, nothing shouts Cebuano cuisine more than sutukil—a traditional preparation and cooking method for seafood.

Fishing has always been a popular livelihood in Cebu because of its rich marine biodiversity; consequently, this enabled sutukil to grow in prominence and define the culinary scene in Cebu.

Infographic explaining Sutukil

Sutukil (or STK) is derived from three popular Filipino cooking techniques.

Now, sutukil (or STK) derived its name from three popular Filipino cooking techniques: “Su” for sugba (to grill, broil, or barbecue), “tu” for tuwa (to stew), and “kil” for kilaw (to eat uncooked fish).

It is said that sutukil has been part of Cebuano cuisine for half a millennia. Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan’s chronicler, mentioned that the natives of Sugbo (Cebu) prepared and served fish using those three methods when Magellan’s expedition team arrived on April 7, 1521.

That said, sutukil has stood the test of time, inspiring many seafood restaurants throughout the Philippines.

Here are two of the best sutukil restaurants in Cebu:

Tianguo Restobar (Formerly Manna STK House)

Signage at Manna

Tianguo Restobar, formerly known as Manna STK House, is a highly regarded seafood restaurant in Lapu-Lapu City.

Tianguo Restobar, more popularly known as Manna or Manna STK House, is a renowned open-air seafood restaurant near the Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City and has been featured in several local travel shows. It is a great place to unwind because its al fresco dining experience is complemented by its wooden architecture and interior design, exuding an air of tranquility.

Tianguo Restobar offers an al fresco dining experience near the historic Mactan Shrine.

It has its own mini seafood market where you can choose from a variety of local fresh seafood, including lapu-lapu (grouper fish), kitong (rabbitfish), and maya-maya (red snapper), as well as other seafood dishes, such as calamares (Filipino calamari), talaba (oyster), and saang (spider conch sea snail). Furthermore, the cooks will accept requests on how you want them to prepare your order (i.e., fried, sugba, tuwa, or kilaw).

Tianguo Restobar does not limit itself to the sutukil style in preparing and serving fresh seafood.

Unfortunately, it suffered massive damage in the wake of Super Typhoon Rai (locally known as Odette), rendering a part of it roofless. So, it is advised that you visit there in the evening to avoid the sun-heat.

Tianguo Restobar before and after Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) made landfall and ravaged Cebu.
(The before photos were provided by the Facebook page of Tianguo Restobar.)

It is still uncertain when Tianguo Restobar can return to its original design. Nevertheless, it remains open to this day, keeping its workers employed and its own brand of sutukil alive.

HOW TO GET THERE

Operating Hours:

10 AM – 10 PM

Exact Location:

Beside Mactan Shrine, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City

V-Hire

If you are in Ayala Center Cebu or in SM City Cebu, you can ride a V-Hire to Mactan. You can just tell the V-Hire driver to drop you off at the Metro Gaisano Mactan terminal.

Then, you can ride a jeepney to Punta Engaño. Tell the jeepney driver to drop you off at the Mactan Shrine, and you will see Tianguo Restobar beside it.

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House

Paolito's is Cebu's Sutukil Haven

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito's Seafood House has a rich history, a homey ambiance, and a bevy of Cebuano delicacies.

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House is another popular seafood restaurant, and it is located within Cebu City this time. Currently, it has three branches: one in SM City Cebu, another in SM Seaside City Cebu, and the original branch on Orchid Street in Capitol Site.

Now, this blog focuses on the original branch.

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House has a rich history—the owners converted a part of their house into a karinderya (food stall) to sell homemade dishes to taxi drivers and employees at the nearby Cebu Provincial Capitol until it gained traction among the Cebuano community, turning their humble karinderya into a full-fledged restaurant.

You can see many antiques, paintings, and Roman Catholic relics placed on the walls. And despite its vintage look, the dining area somehow feels modern, maybe because of how bright, neat, and well-maintained the restaurant is.

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House went from an ancestral home into a beautiful and satisfying seafood restaurant.

Although STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House is now famous for its extensive Filipino menu, from pork sisig (pig’s cheeks and ears) to kare-kare (oxtail stew with peanut sauce), its baked scallops and sinugbang tuna panga (grilled tuna jaw) remain the top crowd-pleasers—evidence to how Cebuanos hold sutukil close to their hearts.

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House’s bestseller is grilled tuna panga (tuna jaw).

HOW TO GET THERE

Operating Hours:

9 AM – 3 PM, 5 – 10 PM

Exact Location:

A. Climaco Street, Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City

Jeepney

STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House is more accessible than Tianguo Restobar since it is just located within Cebu City.

If you are in Ayala Center Cebu, you can ride a jeepney that includes Capitol in its route (i.e., jeepney route code 12L or 14D). You can just tell the jeepney driver or conductor to drop you off at the BPI Cebu Capitol Branch. Then, follow Jasmin St. until you see Angus Dan’s or Lito’s Carenderia in A. Climaco St., and you will see STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House nearby.

Or, if you are in Cebu IT Park, you can ride a jeepney that includes Capitol in its route (i.e., jeepney route code 17B or 17D). Same as above, just tell the jeepney driver or conductor to drop you off at the BPI Cebu Capitol Branch.

For generations after generations, sutukil has continued to evolve and define the gastronomic landscape in Cebu, and it shows no sign of stopping.

Tianguo Restobar and STK ta Bay! sa Paolito’s Seafood House are not only places to try out sutukil but also to learn the culinary history of Cebu.

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