If you have not heard of the word Larsian, then you probably haven't been around Cebu. Larsian is one of Cebu's most prominent eating havens, one of the few that passed the test of time. Located at the uptown area near Fuente Osmeña and Chong Hua Hospital, Larsian's general location offers a myriad of scenes that is undeniably CEBUANO in charm.
Fuente Osmeña for one is a fountain landmark honoring one of the country's Presidents, Sergio Osmeña Sr., who hailed from the Island of Cebu. Also commonplace around Larsian are children urging you to buy one of their Sampaguita necklaces as you eat your food.
A true-blue Cebuana, it was only a few years ago that I noticed I know very little of the history of Larsian, this place that I have come to love not only for its food, but for the many memories that happened there. I then asked my mother who told me the place used to be a restaurant in the 70's called Larsian, which somehow retained its name long after the restaurant itself. I passed the information to my friends who argued that wasn't true, because what they knew was that Larsian was a combination of two names. Little did I know that my mother and friends were both correct. Larsian was an eatery in the early 70's that derived its name from the owner's (Col. Alvino Mondarez) mother named Pilar and her twin sister, Siana. Put Pilar and Siana together and you get Larsian.
Today Larsian is a place lined with a number of barbecue stands offering similar barbecue selections. Among the selections are: chicken - wings, thigh, skin, breast, feet or intestine; pork - pork liver, chorizo, tocino; seafood like squid and fish and a lot more. You get to select any of those and hand them over to the one in charge to be cooked. You are then asked how many puso (hanging rice) you want. The waiting usually takes 10 - 15 minutes.
If you allow me to take a little trip back in the past: the old Larsian set-up show tables lined up either inside the little stores or outside near a corner street. The common decorations inside were outdated calendars featuring scantily clad women, some Christmas lights and ceiling fans on low ceilings, a set-up that I personally miss.
Just recently Larsian has been transferred to another location, albeit maybe just ten paces away from the old one (yes, ten steps), and renamed The New Larsian. The new set-up features a more organized and cleaner look with uniform tables and stalls. Very little has changed, the food selection is the same as it should be and the Sampaguita vendors are still around to either bother or charm you depending on what type of predisposition you are keen to.
Larsian is neutral ground - loved by the rich and poor alike, the young and old, the popular and the not so popular, the boisterous and the meek, the poetic and unsympathetic - a place where people go to not for luxury but for the food and mere experience. It opens from late afternoon up until dawn.
by: Darby Dunn
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