I always get excited whenever I go to Cebu because I know that I will get the chance to savor authentic Visayan delicacies from those little restaurants scattered all over the city. However, most of the time, my friends and I end up dining in one of our favorite restaurants – Hukad Filipino Restaurant in Cebu City.
Hukad sa Golden Cowrie Restaurant
Address: 2nd Level, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu
Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
Contact Nos.: +63 32 417-1301, +63 32 516-9566
Operating Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/pg/HukadGoldenCowrie/
I first had the chance to dine at Hukad in Ayala Center – Cebu in 2013 and, at once, it left an indelible mark on my tastebuds thereafter. Hukad (which means “to serve graciously” as translated by my Cebuano friend Jay Santamaria) is located on the second floor of the terrace area of Ayala Center in Cebu. You can hardly miss this restaurant because, the number of people that gathered in front of it when I first saw it three years ago has apparently remained constant.
The restaurant’s interiors is an eclectic mix of modern and Filipino interior design.
It is situated at the farthest end of the strip which enables it to have an entire wall made of glass – a very good advantage. Natural light is best for food presentation. It also has a high ceiling which gives an airy feeling inside the restaurant.
There is a function room good for about 25-30 people for those celebrating a special occasion. at the farthest end of the restaurant for people celebrating a special event.
The number of diners for lunch is almost the same for dinner, if not more and it has apparently remained that way since the first time I discovered “Hukad” three years ago.
Diners will eat on banana leaves – how appropriate when eating Filipino cuisine! It has a plate underneath so worrying about the leaf tearing up is not a problem. And so now let’s proceed to the main event – the food review!
Tinolang Baby Prawns – PhP 210.00
Yes, it is “Tinolang Baby Prawns”. It was ordered by my friend without me knowing so when it was served on our table, I exclaimed “Wow! Sinigang na Prawns” to which the waiter politely corrected me “Tinola po, Sir”. I replied “Tinola is not sour. This one is sour.” The waiter again repeated, “Tinola po yan, Sir.” So, I figured that they probably called it differently in Cebu just like “Pinangat” which, to most “Tagalogs” would mean a sour fish dish that has “kamias” (bilimbi) and is sometimes cooked with “gata” (coconut milk) but in Bicol, “Pinangat” is almost the same as “La-ing or Laing” which is made of “gabi” (taro) leaves with some shrimp and/or ground pork meat. So, there. Anyway, whatever they called it, it had the level of sourness that any sinigang fanatic would love. For me, sinigang should be sour but not to the point where my face will begin to distort by itself – similar to those vinegar TV commercials. Their “tinola” was served really hot and the shrimps cooked just right. It had a spiciness that even my mother (who is not so crazy about spicy food) would not notice because it was really delicious.
Baked Scallops – PhP 159.00
This was a special request I asked my friends to order. I love scallops and what made Hukad’s version is the butter they chose. There is the usual garlic bits, some salt, some white pepper to taste and some ingredients I can’ t figure out that made it taste so rich. It is very simple to make but tastes really good. The quality of the scallops is also good. However, because of its rich flavor, having one too many may lead to “sawa” (“food boredom”).
Pork Sisig – PhP 145.00
It was a bit gooey (as shown in the picture). It tasted good.
Crispy Pata (large) – PhP 469.00
The Crispy Pata is good. Most restaurants have perfected the cooking method of this popular dish and so, we have noticed that most of the time, it is in the sauce and in the age of the pig (quality of meat) that makes the difference. Hukad’s Crispy Pata has crispy skin and tender meat. It’s good!
Kare-Kare – PhP 289.00
Naturally, a Filipino dinner won’t be complete without this beloved Pinoy cuisine made of ox or beef tripe, skin, meat or tail with string beans, banana heart, eggplant, Chinese cabbage and crushed roasted peanut sauce. Well, we all agreed that the peanut sauce could use just one more pinch of salt. However, we also surmised that perhaps, the cook was wary of other customers who are regulating their salt intake, thus, it will be the “bagoong” (shrimp paste on the left side of the photo) that will take care of the saltiness level and that is of course, controlled by the diners themselves.
Chicken Pandan – PhP 159.00
Someone got her hands faster than us on this dish and she was happy with its taste. Deep-fried to a crispy golden brown with the pandan leaves adding a special flavor to the chicken.
Calamares – PhP 185.00
This has got to be one of the best, if not, THE best calamares ever. The common mistake of most restaurants is that they overcook the squid leaving it to have a very gummy, almost rubbery texture. Hukad’s calamares is amazingly soft with a batter that is light, delicately crispy and very tasty. Me and my friends consider this as one of their specialties. This is a “must try”.
Grilled Tuna Belly – PhP 215.00
As in other grilled tuna bellies, Hukad’s version is delicious. Doused with a sauce made of soy sauce and calamansi (Philippine lime) juice, it is really mouthwatering.
Pinakbet – PhP 110.00
It was good that you would think that a real GI cooked this popular Ilocano dish. No, I didn’t mean GI as in American soldier but GI as in “genuine Ilocano”. We ordered this for those of us who were watching their cholesterol intake. The ampalaya (bitter gourd) was not bitter at all. It was that good that our friend who never tasted ampalaya immediately liked it. I am not crazy about ampalaya but Hukad’s pinakbet made me eat more than my usual intake.
Agua Fresca Pitcher (green mango & cucumber variant) – PhP 255.00
Mixed reviews from us, actually. As for me, I liked it because it was very refreshing.
Ube Halaya Crisp a la Mode – PhP99.00
It’s a scoop of ube (purple yam) halaya wrapped in lumpia wrapper (egg roll wrapper) then deep-fried to a golden brown. It is then topped with cheese flavored ice cream.
Rissa, our server, best describes what “hukad” means – serving guests (diners) with the warmest of smiles and a kind of gracious hospitality that is distinctly Cebuano. Everytime she offers her “unli-rice” to us, she did it with a smile. Rissa is an asset to Hukad.
Below is the menu of their Ayala Center, Cebu City branch.
Hukad in Ayala Center, Cebu is always filled with diners. To ensure that service will not suffer, these “wireless paging system” is provided in every table.
In some restaurants, the wireless paging system is ignored by servers, but in Hukad, they respond quickly.
Manileños can now taste Hukad’s cuisine at their Trinoma Mall branch (ground floor). It is slightly more expensive though as compared to their Cebu branch – a matter of P10-50 higher.
Now for the big question, shall we recommend Hukad to you? Well, yes. Was the service good? In Cebu, yes. Considering that they are always full, the service was efficient. Was it value for money? Yes, it was. However, because it is always full, it could be a little bit noisy but that is not the fault of Hukad. It is a sign that diners who are mostly composed of families and barkadas are happy.
This review is the opinion of the author based on actual experience. The establishment may have changed in terms of prices, decor, service, cleanliness, food preparation, food presentation, room amenities, facilities or ownership AFTER the posting of this review. This is not meant to influence the reader’s decision. Thank you.