Dragon Recommends: Sugbo Mercado

Dragon Recommends: Sugbo Mercado

 

Last Friday, the Dragon’s Print team had dinner at Sugbo Mercado in IT Park, an open-air food market offering an eclectic array of cuisines. Here are some of the culinary highlights that stood out:

Appetizers • Main Courses • Drinks • Dessert

Appetizers

Gyoza (5 pcs) from Gyoza Food Stall Fukubeya

Review by Karen Y.

As someone who’s accustomed to only the best Japanese foods, to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Fukubeya’s gyoza is not an understatement. The food was on the cheaper end – P95 for five pieces, P180 for ten. I didn’t really expect much, seeing as their gyoza was premade and they would just fry them on-spot.

The gyoza’s bottoms were crunchy while the tops remained soft, which is the best way a gyoza can be. Although slightly underfilled, the filling inside was juicy, and all the oily umami goodness was properly encased in the wrapping. Biting into it was like biting into a piping hot packet of flavour and meaty goodness. 

There’s a few things that could’ve been done to improve Fukubeya’s gyoza, one being the soy sauce. The soy sauce was a bit too sour for my liking but was still good nonetheless. They also didn’t have rayuu, which is basically what enhances the gyoza’s flavour. Another point of improvement would be the appearance. I’m not sure if they wanted a hanetsuki gyoza or not…? The gyoza looked like a mix between a plate of normal yaki gyoza and a plate of hanetsuki gyoza, which basically has a thin piece of crisp connecting individual gyoza pieces. 

Overall, I’d say that Fukubeya is a great stall with great food. Perhaps they could try having different types of gyoza with different types of filling, but it’s still a wonderful food stall; I’d put it on my food recommendation list. I’m giving it a ⅗ because it surpassed my expectations.

Rating: 3 / 5

Nachos Grande from Cheat Day

Review by Joo Ha C.

For this dish, looks may be deceiving. Although it looks like the key to heaven, it is still a simple recipe for nachos that you could make at home. The name of the stall we got the nachos from was called Cheat Day. Now you would expect that the food would be good, right? Wrong. A Cheat Day meal would be something tasty and filling! Sadly, the food was really just bland, and in some parts of the nachos there won’t be any sauce, cheese, or anything at all on the chip. 

Normally, there would be 4 pieces of nacho chips with the entire toppings. If you are a healthy person looking for a great cheat day restaurant, keep searching. However, this restaurant has some pros. This whole nacho set only costs 99 pesos, which makes sense given the type of food you receive. Other than that, the restaurant also sells burgers and all under 200 pesos. So if you are finding a place to save money, here it is!

Overall? I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone. The store and food themselves just tell us that looks can be deceiving. When we first saw the food stand, we were so excited to try out the nachos. Then, as the first chip entered our hungry stomachs, nothing happened. No flavor exploded in our mouths and we still stayed hungry after finishing the whole plate. But if you just want food to show off your Instagram feed, then this place could be for you.

Rating: 2 / 5

Crispy Crablets from Seabu

Review by Andrea C.

When I arrived in Sugbo, I was overwhelmed by the variety of food that the place had to offer. As someone who doesn’t frequent Sugbo Mercado often, I didn’t have any particular stall to eat in in mind. However, when I sat my things down at the table, Seabu’s giant sign caught my attention immediately. Creative and catchy pun-based name aside (which definitely earned them some brownie points), my sudden craving for fresh seafood is what urged me to order from this stall. They had an assortment of standard seafood dishes that you’d expect from any other place, except for their Crispy Crablets, which is what I ordered.

Despite the long wait (about 30 minutes!), this dish did not totally disappoint! When I received my order, I was shocked to see a plethora of tiny, whole, fried crabs on my paper plate for its price. As the name suggests, each crablet was crispy, bite-sized, and seasoned to perfection. It seemed like the ideal finger food for a quick snack, but at the same time, it was enough to satisfy my seafood dinner time cravings. Although the crabs got hard rather than stayed crispy after a time, this was an interesting dish that I’d definitely order again.

Rating: 4 / 5

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Main Courses

Special Pad Thai from Banana Pancake Trail

Review by Ikaia A.

Picture this: you just had a long exhausting week of school, and then a day of H.A.D. and you’ve barely eaten anything. You walk into Sugbo Mercado and smell this exotic spicy aroma of what seems to be meat being grilled and vegetables on a wok from a stall called “Banana Pancake Trail”. When I ordered their 150-peso ‘Special’ Pad Thai, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. But…I had to. It was lauded as being the ‘Best of Cebu’––it had the sticker and everything––and so I stood there waiting as I looked at the other people getting their own orders of similar South East Asian cuisine— just the smell and look of the cooking vegetables and noodles and the glaze from those beautifully grilled meats begged me to devour them, but I had my self-constraint.

That constraint lasted until I sat down at my table. The pad thai’s first punch consists of an aromatic fist filled with some seriously tropical smells that could’ve knocked you all the way to the next equatorial beach. However, the match is only starting. The real whopper comes in the form of the moderately sharp tangy uppercut it first delivers to your taste buds, followed up by a series of jabs each containing its own different flavor of shrimp, vegetables, umami, and mushrooms. The noodles’ moves may seem a bit artificial to the tongue, but with its minimally juicy footwork it manages to slip and slide gracefully in your mouth. Its easy chewable consistency makes for a quick chew-chew and swallow combo, so you can make sure no chew goes to waste. But, it’s gotta be said, the pad thai just can’t finish strongly with a clean ‘knock out’. Its somewhat strong nutty aftertaste and the lack of more flavorful variety just can’t get my full vote.

However, despite these problems, it’s overall still a good meal, so next time you go to Sugbo, pay a visit to this vigorously versatile Vietnamese contender.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Gambas Pasta from Pasta Hut

Review by Sij S.

Whichever direction you decide to go from one food stall to another in Sugbo Mercado, there always seems to be a strong aroma of Italian pasta sauce hanging in the air. You don’t have to look hard to figure out that in a corner, alas, there’s Pasta Hut:  a food stall that offers 5 different pasta dishes that include Gambas Pasta, Carbonara, Marinara, Pesto, and––surprise, surprise––Lechon Pasta.

Personally, it always feels natural to order Carbonara; however, when I lined up to have my order taken, I was convinced to try out the Gambas Pasta that more than half of the people before me ordered.

The pasta cream sauces were boiled in a pan which can be viewed directly in front of the stall, so if you’re a harsh hygiene critic, rest assured it’s cooked clean. In the case of the Gambas pasta, the shrimp are pan-fried with butter before the sauce is poured over. The pasta is then tossed and seasoned with salt and pepper and then placed in a styrofoam container before being sprinkled with mozzarella. This dish comes with sliced bread and free drinks (usually iced tea) — all for PHP99.00!

Visually, it looks appealing before the bread was placed on top. The sliced bread made it an… unusual sight. It was satisfactory, however, it would’ve been better to have it toasted before being tossed on top of the pasta. Nevertheless, it’s usually a challenge to achieve the right pasta texture when cooked but it was done well, and props to the creaminess of the sauce. I’m no professional chef but the shrimp was, on the other hand, too chewy that I felt that if only it was left on the pan for 5 mins longer, it would’ve been cooked perfectly.

Overall, Gambas Pasta offered a fettuccine dish with tiger prawns, all with a hint of spice leaving you wanting for more. If you want to satisfy your pasta craving, visit Pasta Hut — it’s tasty and affordable!

Rating: 4 / 5

Pork BBQ from Mr. Bones

Review by Constance L.

Recently we had HAD, and for the people in athletics it used up a lot of energy. I tried napping after, but I couldn’t get the energy back. This place wasn’t right in your face when you entered; it was in the back at the corner but it was really good. The place is called Mr. Bones and it has so much meat dishes, it was so good. It was selling different meats such as chicken, pork, and beef, all in different styles such as bbq. Their prices were very cheap for the quality of their food. However, the stall had a lot of smoke from all of the cooking.

Joo Ha and I ordered the Pork BBQ. It was PHP109 and it came with rice, sauce, and 4 pork barbecue sticks. I really like bbq so I was excited to try it. It wasn’t bad but there was a lot of fat which was kind of hard to chew. I didn’t use the sauce because I’m not sure how you dip a stick that size in a sauce container that small. The rice was good because it was nice to eat after the pork. The flavours were really good and they tasted well together.

Overall, the food was great and service was good because they gave you a number and an amount of time you have to wait until you can collect your order. The food was good for its price, but a little bit too chewy. I would prefer if there was more meat and less fat on the barbecue.

Rating: 4 / 5

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Refreshments

Fruit Juices from Macology 101

Review by Regina L.

Wherever you stay in Sugbo Mercado, the blasts of hot air from the grills and the tight space will always make you feel uncomfortably warm. This is probably why all the customers seem drawn to MACOLOGY 101. This stall is known for the best mac and cheese in Sugbo Mercado but also sells cheap but refreshing ice-cold drinks for 50 pesos.  The stall has a wide range of different flavors of juice; the choices seem more overwhelming when you find out you can mix the different flavors! 

I tried a mixture of Cucumber and Lemon, a classic pair, as well as Lychee and Pineapple. Cucumber and Lemon had a light, citrusy taste that goes well with any meal. The taste wasn’t overpoweringly sweet but instead had just the right balance between sugary and tangy. The Lychee and Pineapple, on the other hand, was a weird mix that the vendor suggested. The two flavors did not go well together and the combination was too sweet. On its own, however, the unique-tasting Lychee is definitely a must-try! The blend between its sweetness and tartness is indescribable and will surely leave you wanting more.

Overall, the drinks go really well with any food from the different stalls in Sugbu Mercado. The flavors they offer are refreshingly sweet and chilled. It’s no wonder why almost everyone who goes to Sugbu Mercado visits their stall. 

Ratings:
Cucumber & Lemon = 5 / 5
Lychee and Pineapple = 3 / 5
Lychee = 4 / 5

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Dessert

Black Sugar Pearl Ice Cream & Mango Float Ice Cream from Swirl Dessert Corner

Review by Lea F. and Jun J.

Sugbo Mercado is a place consisting of many different dishes. Japanese food, Korean food, some ribs, and many more…but nothing is better than the dessert that comes after a delectable meal. Many people look for the basic bubble tea drink for the finale of their dessert. How typical! Instead, at the price of 100 pesos, you can finish your meal in a more astonishing way. Allow me to introduce you to The Swirl Dessert Corner, which sells ice cream with an interesting twist!

We tried 2 types of ice cream. The first one, Black Sugar Pearl Ice Cream, is for those people who are willing to round up a fabulous full course dinner but don’t want to gain too much weight. The other one was for the fruit lovers expecting to finish their meals with some fruit: Mango Float Ice Cream. The Black Sugar Ice Cream had very well-cooked pearls—they weren’t too soft nor too hard and had the ideal texture of a pearl. It had soft outsides, but at the same time had chewy insides.
For the ice cream itself, It was very soft and melted quickly. However, its sweetness ruined the purpose of a somewhat healthy ice cream and made me tire of the dish very quickly. Nevertheless, the taste itself was wonderful, so I would give it a ⅘ for the final scores.

For the fruit lovers, a good mango float would’ve been the best finish of the day. The cookie crumbs of the mango float fit really well with the softness and sweetness of the ice cream. I feel like the combination with just cookie crumbs and ice cream would’ve been enough to attract the customers. The ice creams sweetness was just sweet enough. However, the mango was really sour and not sweet, and people who expected a mango float would’ve been disappointed. The overall taste was great, but I would give a 3.5/5 as the purpose of having fruits to attract customers was completely ruined.

Ratings:
Black sugar: 4 / 5 
Mango Float: 3.5 / 5

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Sugbo Mercado
Inez Villa St., Garden Block, IT Park, Cebu City
Open Thursdays-Sundays, 5:00PM-2:00AM (until 12:00MN on Sundays)

General pros

  • Good music (there’s a band that plays) and atmosphere
  • Great variety of food and drinks to choose from
  • Affordable prices
  • Friendly staff

General cons

  • Tables fill up very quickly if you do not come early
  • Noisy and crowded
  • Expect to sweat a lot as it can get humid
  • The smell of fish and BBQ smoke is overpowering
  • Long waits for meals (up to 45 minutes)
  • Flies and dirty tables

Overall rating: ★★★★☆


Images by Katrina R.

Reviews are uncommissioned, unpaid, and represent the personal views of the authors. They should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.

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1 Comment

  1. Russell Greene

    I shouldn’t read this before dinner as it’s making me too hungry.

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