LOCATION: Loose Keys Moto Culture, Tourism Road, municipality of General Luna, Siargao Island, province of Surigao del Norte
Picture this: You are in Siargao Island and staying in General Luna and it is your first night, or your next night/s after surfing or island hopping. Do you want to go to a bar yet try something different to eat? Well, why not go to Cev?
Loose Keys-Cev, located along Tourism Road, municipality of General Luna, Siargao
Loose Keys, the bar part of this establishment, opened sometime mid-2018, while the kitchen part, called Cev, opened on November 2018.
You cannot miss this cevicheria-bar, owned by David del Rosario, a surfer with a culinary course from the USA, who claims to be “living his best life” in Siargao.
Cev is along Tourism Road, the main road of the municipality of General Luna. It is near a popular restaurant called Bravo.
The open-air atmosphere in Loose Keys-Cev is cozy and perfect for relaxation after surfing or island-hopping. What’s that? You don’t drive, and have not rented a motorcycle? No worries. Just ride a tricycle. Pay PHP20 per person, and the driver will drop you right in front of this place.
Operating hours are 11:00 am till 9 pm daily.
Take three steps up the entrance, and to your left are the items for sale (shirts, surfing boards, etc.).
To your right is a billiard table and high stools with the wooden frame of the restaurant’s border where you can place your cold beer or cocktail while playing billiards, or when just chilling and enjoying a drink while facing the main road, watching people and vehicles pass by.
A little further to the left are two small dining tables for four, then a bar, where customers can sit, order drinks and chill.
To the inner right are longer tables for bigger groups to gather, eat ceviche1 and kinilaw2 dishes, drink, and enjoy each other’s company.
Cev is busy at night, so come early! (Photo from http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao)
Wall Menu, Loose Keys-Cev, Siargao
Dave del Rosario with the catch of the day (l-r): Mahi-mahi3 (the favorite fish), Cobia (delicate, plump, almost sweet; 21 kilos in pic), Talakitok or Bigeye Jack (8.5 kilos in pic), all for Cev’s ceviche dishes and kinilaw rice bowls. (Photos from http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao)
Menu Card, Loose Keys-Cev, Siargao
Serving portions of two colorful and eye-appealing ceviche1 dishes, PACIFICO and SANTA FE (at PHP320 each), are big enough to be shared by two to three persons.
We enjoyed Pacifico: fresh fish prepared with calamansi4 juice, cilantro5, and red onions, made creamy with coconut milk,and complemented in texture and taste by soft boiled sweet potatoes and soft sweet corn kernels, as well as the crisp fried sweet potato strings and tortilla chips. I surmise that the leche de tigre6 added a certain appeal to the dish among male customers (see the footnote below). You must try this ceviche1 creation!
We also ordered Santa Fe. This ceviche1 is very interesting! The fresh fish is prepared with calamansi4 juice, and flavored with red onions, and cilantro5, along with tomato puree. The tortilla chips and cucumber slices gave a contrasting texture and added flavor, and the fried bananas and popcorn offered an added treat for this dish.
Colorful and visually attractive kinilaw2 rice bowls (at PHP280 each), good enough for sharing between two seniors, are available: General Luna (named after the town it is located), Daku, Guyam, and Naked (named after three popular islands in Siargao). Mix all the ingredients well so you get a bit of everything per spoonful. See their descriptions in the menu above.
We only ordered two kinilaw2 dishes. The Guyam kinilaw2 rice bowl, made of garlic rice, grilled pork belly strips, along with the fresh fish, made tangy with sweet calamansi4 and coconut vinegar, was very satisfying. The ginger, pickled papaya, red and green onions gave enough spiciness, while the crunchy cucumber slices and roasted corn provided added texture plus an element of surprise to this dish.
The General Luna kinilaw-garlic rice bowl features grilled eggplant, made creamy with coconut milk, and the fresh fish is combined with coco vinegar, ginger and red onions. The surprise was the combination of spiced mango cubes, fried sweet potatoes and black beans.
The alcoholic beverages offered are: Signature Cocktails (Drunken Monkey, Open Water, Sunken Sailor, and Treasure Chest), Classic Cocktails (Amaretto Sour, Margarita, Mojito, and Piña Colada), House Specials (Bacardi & Coke, Gin & Tonic, Jack Daniel & Coke, Rum & Coke/Sprite, Vodka Cranberry, and Vodka Soda), and Beers (San Miguel Light, San Miguel Pale Pilsen, Beer na Beer, Brew Kettle, Red Horse, and General Luna Ale7).
Our male companions ordered beer, which was served well chilled.
Non-alcoholic beverages include: hot or iced coffee (americano, cappuccino, espresso, latté, mocha), hot or iced signature drinks (almond, chocolate, salted caramel, toffee), juices and smoothies (banana, calamansi4, cranberry, mango, watermelon), and soft drinks (Coke and Sprite).
I ordered a watermelon smoothie. It was served in a highball glass with a bamboo straw, which I appreciated because of their non-plastic policy. This drink was just right: it was refreshing, creamy and not that sweet. Duirng our next visit, I ordered a Margarita. This cocktail was balanced, with the right amount of tequila, sourness, bitterness and sweetness. I definitely enjoyed this drink.
So, when in Siargao, why not stop by at Cev to drink a cold beer/cocktail along with Pacifico Ceviche (PHP320) while playing billiards, and/or order our favorite Guyam kinilaw rice bowl (PHP280) for lunch/dinner? Besides, you can get to meet the most friendly, hospitable, good-looking, and hands-on restaurant owner in Siargao, just ask for Dave!
Contact information: Instagram: @cevsiargao; @loosekeysmotoculture; http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao
This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.
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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:
1Ceviche is a popular Latin American dish where the raw cubed fish or shrimp is diced and “cooked” in citrus juice, then mixed with other ingredients like red onions, cilantro5 and chilis, according to the Wikipedia page “Ceviche”.8
2Kinilaw is the Filipino term which literally means “eaten raw”. It usually refers to a raw fish or seafood dish, native to the Philippines, similar to ceviche1, although lightly grilled meat and vegetables may also be used. It basically relies on (coconut or cane) vinegar to denature the ingredients, and has a souring agent like calamansi4, balimbing9, dayap10, green mangoes and kamias11. It is flavored with salt and spices like black pepper, chili peppers, ginger and onions. The dish could be served as an appetizer, as a finger food (pulutan in Tagalog) with alcoholic beverages. There are many Filipino regional variations. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kinilaw”.12
3The mahi-mahi, or common dolphinfish, is a surface-dwelling ray-finned, compressed-bodied fish with a single, long-based dorsal fin extending from the head almost to the tail, found in off-shore, temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters worldwide. Males have a prominent forehead protruding well above the body proper while the smaller females have a rounded head. This colorful fish has a golden side, bright blues and greens on the sides and back, and an iridescent blue pectoral fin. Its color fades to a muted yellow-grey upon death. The name comes from the Hawaiian language which means “very strong”, through the process of reduplication. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mahi-mahi”.13
4Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient.
5Cilantro, coriander, or Chinese parsley, is an annual herb where the leaves, with citrus overtones, and dried seeds, with a warm, nutty, spicy, lemony-orange flavor when crushed, are the parts most traditionally used in cooking worldwide. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Coriander”.14
6Leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) is the citrus-based spicy marinade used to cure the fish in classic Peruvian ceviche1. Thus, it is the leftover juices of a ceviche, which usually contains a bit of fish juice, fresh lime juice, sliced onions, cilantro5 leaves, chilis, chopped celery ribs, thinly sliced garlic cloves, finely grated ginger, kosher salt and pepper.15, 16, 17 It is said to be the Peruvian version of Viagra and has aphrodisiac properties.18
7subject to availability
8“Ceviche,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceviche.
9Balimbing, carambola, or star fruit, is an edible fruit with the scientific name Averrhoa carambola, native to the Philippines and Indonesia. The oval fruit is about 5-15 cm (2-6 in.) in length, has (usually 5) distinctive ridges running down its sides, and commonly eaten out of hand. It has a smooth, thin, slightly waxy skin. The flesh is crunchy, firm, and very juicy. It does not contain fiber, and has a texture similar in consistency to that of grapes. The small type is sour/tart while the larger type is sweet. It is best consumed shortly after it ripens, just after all traces of green have disappeared, with brown ridges at the edges, and still fells firm. If you cut this fruit crosswise, each slice is shaped like a star. It can also be used in cooking, and can be made into juice drinks, preserves and relishes. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Carambola”.19
10Dayap is the Philippine variety of key lime (Citrus x aurantiifolia), a citrus hybrid (C. micrantha x C. medina). This spherical fruit is 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in.) in diameter. It is usually picked while it is still green and turns yellow, when ripe. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Key lime”.20
11Kamias is the Filipino term for Averrhoa bilimbi, an ellipsoidal, elongated fruit, measuring 4-10 cm, and sometimes faintly angled. The smooth to slightly bumpy skin is thin and waxy, turning from light green, to yellowish-green when ripe. The flesh is crisp and the juice is sour and extremely acidic, and therefore not typically consumed as fresh fruit itself. In the Philippines, it is often planted in backyards, and the fruits eaten raw or dipped in rock salt. It can also be sun-dried then preserved, used as a souring agent for Filipino dishes, or used to make salad, mixed with tomatoes and chopped onions, with soy sauce as dressing. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Averrhoa bilimbi”.21
12“Kinilaw,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinilaw.
13“Mahi-mahi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahi-mahi.
14“Coriander,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander.
19“Carambola,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambola.
20“Key lime,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_lime.
21“Averrhoa bilimbi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averrhoa_bilimbi.