F Waterfront Hotels: your culinary stopovers in Cebu - jeepneyjinggoy

Waterfront Hotels: your culinary stopovers in Cebu

How to enjoy Cebu during long layovers

Mactan Cebu International Airport. Long layovers and delayed flights? It is what it is. But what you do with your time is in your hands. Don’t mope. Have a feast! 

Cebu has a myriad of culinary offerings that will take your mind off the not-so-pleasant-incidents the airlines are causing. Some of it are inside the airport terminal— the different local lechon brands and delicacies, coffee shops, and a few restos that offer decent meals. However, everything is pricier. 

Here’s what I do. I make my way to the hotel right across the street to the Waterfront Airport Hotel. What’s inside? Cafe Uno. It's a more comfortable and quiet space where freshly brewed coffee is good,  connection to the internet is free, a menu that lists fab food choices and if you come at the right time, there’s a buffet spread for breakfast and merienda, lunch and dinner, too, if the hotel’s occupancy is high. Wiser? Yes. Plus, it’s value for money. 

If you love Pinoy food, then you’re in luck. The current chef is pushing regional cuisine to the forefront, if fact this is his advocacy. When it comes to Binisaya cuisine, Chef June Fernandez goes back to his roots and revisits his grandparents’ love for this kind of cooking. Now, as the new executive chef of Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino Mactan, he aims to elevate the dining experience by highlighting the heartwarming Filipino dishes and adding a modern twist to these classics. 

Waterfront Airport Hotel's Executive Chef June Fernandez

It’s always a brilliant idea to befriend chefs because they can always whip up something special. Just like my quick stop in Cebu on the way to Boracay. 

The chef said the Waterfront Airport Hotel’s menu is in the process of changing. From Chef June’s kitchen came “Baka Mamen,” his version of mami/ramen with chunks of tender beef cooked for hours and poured with rich-tasting soup. This dish instantly gained following upon its release in a pop-up market. 

Baka Mamen

Yet to be introduced on the menu are Pinoy favorites that will make anyone drool. The “Keviche,” the chef’s take on ceviche and kinilaw, is a refreshing dish of fresh fish cubes in thick coconut milk, which gives it a rich, nutty, sweet flavor. Green pepper gives the dish a light kick of spice and the crispy dilis offers a nice contrast of flavor and texture to the dish. 


Who’s not in love with Cansi? The chef sources out fresh ingredients, including the batuan for an authentic dish. The beef shank is cooked for hours until tender and broth is thickened. Of course, the bone marrow completes the dish’s flavor. Sinfully delicious. 


Chef June makes his own Chorizo Cebu using the family’s heritage recipe. It uses lesser cuts of fat but still retains the flavor. 

Chorizo Cebu

If your layover is longer, like a night or two, how about heading to Waterfront Cebu City. It houses three of Cebu’s specialty restaurants, Tin Gow (Chinese), La Gondola (Italian) and Mizu (Japanese). 

At La Gondola, Chef Randy Lagas wants to showcase a new dish that’s appearing on the menu soon. But first, a brick oven-baked pizza (Carnivora, an all meat pizza) and house-made Pappardelle pasta (Pappardelle Filanti) were in order. The pizzas and pasta are bestsellers in this Italian joint because it's delicioso and can be very addicting. 

Waterfront Cebu City La Gondola Chef Randy Lagas

Pappardelle Filanti

I had a second bout with the Carpaccio di polpo con aglio olio e crema di limone (Octopus carpaccio with roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil & lemon cream) that when sliced paper thin makes the smokey dish awesome! 

Carpaccio di polpo 

The chef’s Italian Lamb Stew I give top score for its rich flavor and tenderness. Cooked for four hours with aromatics and spices, the chef leaves no trace of gaminess. Yum! 

Italian Lamb Stew

Desserts in this place are perfect because the sweetness is just a hint, never overwhelming. Whether it’s the coffee-cocoa concoction of Tiramisu, the light gelatinous fare of panna cotta or the pistacchio Gelato, it’s a truly delightful way to close the Italian meal. Well, I had all three, that’s buono x 3. 

La Gondola's dessert trio- Panna Cotta, Tiramisu & Pistachio Ice Cream

Mizu is brewing a new kind of dining experience ideal for a meeting or an event — the omakase. The chef takes the reins and prepares a special meal with the season’s fresh ingredients. 

Waterfront Cebu City Mizu Chef Ken Imamura

I sat down and let Chef Ken Imamura surprise me. The curated 5-course meal started with the Tofu Cheese, a truly delectable appetizer. Next was the Shinoda Chakin (shinoda is a dish simmered in a dashi stock flavored with soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar), chicken wrapped in a tofu sheet with broth, the warmth of which opened up my appetite. It was followed by the fresh and almost creamy slice of Sake Sashimi. 

To cleanse the palate, the chef’s next course was the Cold Noodles Soup, making sure we enjoyed the main course composed of Ebi Tempura (perfectly cooked prawn) and very tender U.S. Beef Teppanyaki. And to cap the meal, a personal favorite- the Green Tea Ice cream. 

Which dish I loved most? All! It was a meal that took me to a favorite Asian destination, Japan.

Tofu Cheese Yako

Shinoda Chakin

Sake Sashimi

With little time left before I take off, I will have to miss Chef Low’s cooking at Tin Gow. Not. They wrapped up my favorite Sweet & Sour Pork for me to take home to Davao. 

There’s always that smile of contentment when returning to the airport to catch my flight home. It’s always wise to make the best of circumstances that’s beyond our control. So when you suddenly have time on your hands arriving at the Cebu airport, make it a culinary stopover. 

Here’s a tip: Why not stay longer and stay a night or two. Get comfortable and enjoy each bite of good food. Make it a culinary trip rather than just a short stopover? The rooms at the Waterfront Airport Hotel and Waterfront Cebu City are well-maintained and very comfortable. I slept snugly. 

A night in Waterfront Airport Hotel

Two nights in Waterfront Cebu City

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The gentlemen of Waterfront hotels in Cebu you should be familiar with.

With Waterfront Cebu GM BenHur Caballes

Waterfront RM  Bryan Yves Lasalas

Waterfront Airport Hotel GM Rex Yap