Don Merto's

Don Mertos is a unique dining facility that caters a mix of traditional Asian and Western cuisines. One branch is situated in a small space in SM Northwing, with an assortment of steaks, salads and favorite Spanish food. We sampled the mushroom burger (comes with fries), Lengua (a spanish-Mexican cuisine made from beef tongue) and the Don Merto's lunch special, which contained burger steak, a choice between salad or soup and your own sidings for that day.

It was a wonderful experience, all of the food being delicious albeit served with minimal helpings that doesn't encourage over indulging. It was a little bit pricey for the amount of food, but for the taste, I guess it was okay. Service was mediocre, we were served bread for appetizers but we didn't feel pampered enough. The waitress mentioned that they were understaffed, and I suppose that is one of the things about it that brings the quality down.


A: 3/5 Food was ok. Service was so-so. Cramped for room. Understaffed.

Don Merto's Deli and Resto
SM Northwing Branch
North Reclamation Area
Cebu City

Rai Rai Ken

Rai Rai Ken, what used to be one of the popular Japanese restaurants during the time of Triple V in Cebu, is still firmly established within the area. As what mentioned by people who frequent this place, the dining facility serves as a good substitute for authentic Japanese food.

We decided to eat here for a sample of sea urchin, aside from an assortment of sushi and a few slices of sashimi. The service was awful; it took minutes for the staff to notice us and take our order. Their menu isn't at all updated, and that We had a special platter, consisting of ample servings of california maki, tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi, sea urchin, sweet egg roll and shrimp sushi. We also had a siding of agedashi tofu, deep fried tofu with a thin crispy layer and melt-in-the mouth insides.
I'm not really sure if I'm coming back to this place. Instead, I might have to try visiting Nonki, which has a wider array of dishes to serve guests.

A: 1.75/5 What got to me was the service and the food presentation. I wasn't in the least impressed.

Rai Rai Ken
SM City Cebu
2nd Level SM City Cebu
North Reclamation Area


As we were walking along SM Northwing during a lunch break from the May 1 job fair at the SM City Trade Hall, sis noticed that there was a Leona's branch up on the second floor. We noted the wide array of mouthwatering breads, pastries and cakes displayed on racks while some were stowed in the freezer. Aside from the relaxing ambiance the shop offered, their excellently made baked products contain just the right balance of sweetness and taste for the picky eater.

What caught my attention was the box of Lemon Squares, looking back, I heard rumors that these were really good. And it was! Remembering our trip back in February, it had just exactly the same taste as that famous lemon muffin sold at an outrageous price of 60 Php per piece.

After letting mom sample the squares, she became addicted to it. She also got a loaf of chocolate bread and took it home. This particular loaf goes well with hazelnut spread or any other chocolate spread.

Leona's Bakery‎
Main Branch: Kasambagan, Cebu City, Philippines

A: 4.8/5 Great tasting baked goods at an affordable price. Must sample.

In Search of the Original Balamban Liempo

The first time I tasted a satisfying Liempo was when the family decided to take a tour to the outskirts of Cebu up in the mountains of Balamban (Kristian's). The town we visited wasn't at all ignorant of civilization, as they had electricity, a modest church and medium sized stores and an open mall amidst the backdrop of lush green forests. Traditional liempo doesn't have Kristian's had: a unique blend of freshly chopped herbs and spices complimenting the equal quantity of fat and meat with just enough firmness and texture.

After our trip, as we were browsing forum posts about good food, we came across a newly established shop that sells liempo, namely Balamban Liempo. We visited two branches and sampled their scrumptious pork roast occasionally within the span of two months. If asked to rate the quality of the meat between the two franchise branches, the number one on my list would be the one from behind Coco mall, for its well done and its melt-in-the mouth texture. Closely behind it, I'd rank the one in front of JY third for the somewhat overcooked but still edible meat.

In the end, Kristian's still serves the best Liempo in Cebu. Balamban Liempo simply cannot exceed it in taste and flavor even though they have the same process. The only downside is accessibility. Balamban is a hassle to travel to, especially if you're only going there to buy only one slab from Kristian's.

Kristian's Liempo & Lechon Manok:

E.S. Binghay St., Aliwanay

Balamban Liempo:

Lahug - Salinas Drive, Lahug Cebu City c/o Dhara's Tapsilogan (In-Front of USP)
Mabolo - Cor. Tres Borces St. & S. Cabahug St. (Near the New Mabolites Store and the Sindulan Market)
Talamban - Piazza Elesia, Talamban (In-Front of Rose Pharmacy)
Capitol - Kamuning St, at the Back of Coco Mall In-Between Wash Station & the House with the Huge Green Gate in Front of Fuente Oro Business Suites

A: Kristian's serves excellent dishes (4.8/5) and was the one who made the recipe. Worth the travel time, if you have your own car. If you don't, however, visit Balamban Liempo within the city's vicinity for second best (4/5) pork roast.

Mesa at The Terraces

Situated in the backdrop of Ayala's Terraces and overlooking the lush gardens of the mall, Mesa shines when it comes to fine dining Filipino food. Serving traditional Philippine cuisine with a touch of class and sophistication, this casual restaurant in Ayala is the only one that serves suckling pig. Upon entry, guests have the option to be seated on a private section of the restaurant just outside the restaurant or inside the lavishly furnished interior establishment. Their menu is composed of native dishes such as Sisig, a diced pork dish with a dash of chili served on a sizzling plate and Laing, taro leaves slowly simmered in rich fresh coconut sauce.

Their outstanding order, the Crispchon is a 45-day old piglet cleaned and prepared before deep fried. Further, once it arrives, the servers will prepare the pig in a way that most of the succulent meat is cut into slices and wrapped with vegetables and a unique pandan flavored wrap. These bite-sized items are then eaten with six sauces, ranging from the traditional Lechon sarsa to Curry dip. Once all the meat has been finished, the waiters will then offer to prepare the ribs and bones (you're not allowed to nibble on the bone. Yet.) for a second course. This time, what used to be the remains of an unappetizing heap of bones will be returned to you on a platter, cooked in chili-garlic sauce right to perfection. 


A: 4.7/5. We were seated comfortably in a booth while enjoying the chic ambiance the restaurant offers. I had a great time dining here, and during our stay, the servers were attentive and quick. The food is good, albeit pricey (you're paying for comfort and ambiance). My only complaint is the washroom. Small, cramped and it smells odd. Bathroom deo and the lack of tissues/hand dryers will more likely bother people, myself included. Good place to conduct business meetings and casual meetups with friends. They also serve liquor and beer here, just ask for their drinks menu.

Spice Fusion

With currently two branches in Cebu that I know of, Banilad and SM, Spice Fusion offers a wide array of Asian dishes that tickle the palates of restaurant goers. One of their popular orders is the Roti, a thin unleavened Indian bread served with a curry dip.

Upon arriving at the branch in SM's North Wing extension, we were greeted by courteous servers who seated us on a table for three near the door. The place was small and it doesn't help especially during lunch time, nonetheless, a full restaurant could only mean two things: a) it is good, or b) it is cheap and affordable.

After adapting to the busy atmosphere of the dining facility, we were handed menu booklets. Our eyes roamed as we grouped amongst ourselves what we wanted to have for lunch. Food presentation on the menu is mouthwatering and looks satisfying and we wanted to taste something different and unique. Seafood enthusiasts, particularly crab lovers will enjoy the different types of crab dishes Fusion serves.

I like the fact that this restaurant has a wide selection of vegetable menu, not that I'm turning vegetarian but I do want to eat healthy when I'm eating out. That being said, my favorite fare here is not a vegetable dish =p it's the oyster cake (yes, I LOVE oysters)

The roti is great too, it's like eating crispy air (try to imagine that!). The eggplant masala was a bit salty but maybe that's how it's supposed to be. The radish cake and Taiwan pechay were also good. After a while, I realized that this restaurant uses the term "cake" to actually mean cooked with egg. So those people thinking of sponge cake topped with radish and oysters can stop cringing  now =)

Maybe next time I'll go to their other branches at Ayala and BTC. The North Wing venue was too noisy and crowded for me. Then again, SM is known to be exactly that. 


A: 4.5/5. Food is good because of fresh ingredients used in the preparation, not to mention the simple and presentation when served on the customers' table. The wide assortment of delicious foreign dishes will leave them hanging for more. Taking to mind our no carb diet, we agreed on dining on a variety of vegetable dishes. Served on our table are servings of Roti, Raddish cake, Oyster cake, Eggplant masala and Taiwanese pechay. What caught my interest is the Roti, served on the table as if it was a discolored beige handkerchief (aside from the fact that I am a fan of pita bread and other such Persian/Indian cuisine). The raddish cake and the oyster cake are also definitely must tries. Adobong Eggplant lovers will find the Eggplant Masala, an ok order, on familiar grounds.

N: 4/5 I'm definitely going back to try other dishes here. The price is reasonable and I just might cook this at home =)