Eats around Mandaue: Levantine shawarmas, two cafes and the best ramen in Cebu
The original plan that morning was to vist Shawarma Gourmet at Parkmall in Mandaue City. I pitched this idea to my foodie friends, hoping that the flavors of this newly opened restaurant would remind me of the happy memories I had in Dubai. I had high hopes that it will since two of its chefs supposedly came all the way from Lebanon.
Shawarma Gourmet: authentic Levantine streetfood
But maybe because we had nothing else to do after lunch that’s why we decided to hop on 3 more stops afterwards. To be honest, I was happy with this change because the dishes we wanted to try at Shawarma Gourmet, the hummus and the falafel, were not yet available. We settled with Beef and Chicken Shawarmas (Pocket Pita) and Shawarma Rice.
Despite my shawarma’s rather small portion, its flavors were spot on. The spices provided the welcome acid that cut through the beef which was freshly sliced from the restaurant’s very own vertical spit. I hope to return soon for a large shawarma and for my favorite kunafe, a savory Middle Eastern dessert.
The very Instagram-worthy spaces at UNOS Design Cafe
We then had cup of joes at UNOS, a boutique coffeeshop that could double as an art gallery to some extent. You’ll be forgiven if you wander a bit here, as you begin to notice the eye-catching wall ornaments, the large mural and the hand-painted stools among many others. The Instagram-worthy interiors here really spark curiosity and conversation.
And if you’re like me who stay away from coffeeshops adorned with way too many post-its and love-locks, then UNOS Design Cafe. although a bit from the metropolis, will be really worth your while.
Go Go Cafe – a Japanese streetfood vendor’s success story
We would have wanted to pair our coffees with the pastries at UNOS but there was none available that afternoon. So to compensate for that, we had ‘light snacks’ at Go Go Cafe next. This Japanese snack place is owned by Go Morita, a Japanese national who went viral in social media last year when he sold onigiri and tonkatsu sandwiches right outside Cebu IT Park.
Those must have sold really well because Mr. Morita was able to launch a food establishment out of that stint. The tonkatsu sandwich is now priced thrice as much but why complain when you can enjoy these deep-fried pork sandwiches within the confines of an airconditioned cafe?
Sachi – the best ramen and it’s just Php 270
I can’t remember why we added another stop after Go Go Cafe. Maybe I was underwhelmed with my ‘light snack’ of Japanese Curry Rice and Spam Sushi that’s why I invited my visibly stuffed friends to have dinner somewhere. Maybe they were too polite to complain with my suggestion. Maybe we were all craving for ramen all along as it was one of the topics that kept popping the entire afternoon.
Whatever the real reason was, I am thankful that one of my friends happen to know a very good yet very affordable Japanese restaurant nearby. Before we could change our minds, we found ourselves at Sachi Authentic Japanese Ramen Okonomiyaki. We then ordered 3 different kinds of ramen – the Noukou Kotteri, the spicy Tantan Men and the Tonkotsu.
Each were delicious, had very tender chashu and perfectly runny tamago. The clear runaway winner however was the Noukou Kotteri, the broth of which is said to be boiled for 24 hours. Every slurp from this Php 270 bowl is packed with happy flavors, complex textures and life-changing umami.
We skipped dessert because around this time, we were already at the brink of suffering a food coma after that shawarma, that coffee, that onigiri sandwich and especially that toe-curling ramen.
There’s a lesson or two here of course. That I have consumed more calories than what’s necessary. And that there’s certainly more to Mandaue, a city in Cebu that seems to be plagued with EDSA-esque traffic woes lately. The latter is beyond me of course, but if my friends will invite me for a second serving of this Mandaue foodtrip, I’d still say yes in a heartbeat.