In a country made up of over 7000 islands, there are only a few specialities that can be thought of as “national dishes”. Lechon is one of those specialities, that plays a special role in the Filipino culture and traditions.
Lechon is a Spanish word for suckling pig. It is a whole pig, roasted for several hours over charcoal. This dish is the culinary centerpiece for every celebration or fiesta. From weddings, birthday celebrations and Christmas, no festivity is complete without lechon.
Cebu, the second largest city in the Philippines after Manila is famous for their mouthwatering lechon. The cooking style and distinctive taste makes it the Filipino’s favorite.
The pigs are stuffed with seasonings such as garlic, onions, soy sauce, lemongrass, salt, and a variety of herbs. The pigs are roasted slowly and hand-turned over hot coals for hours, until the skin becomes crispy and the inside meat becomes tender and flavorful.
In the Philippines, don’t miss a stop in Cebu for lechon, which Anthony Bourdain, American ex-chef and TV personality describes as “the best lechon ever”.
Here are the three best local restaurants in Cebu for lechon.
1- Zubuchon – “the best pig ever”
Zubuchon skyrocketed to fame after Anthony Bourdain called it the “best pig ever” in 2009. Ever since then, the Zubuchon brand has grown, serving average of 2,000 people a day and ranking 5th out of 547 restaurants in Cebu.
The secret for their success, according to Joel Binamira, the man behind Zubuchon, is their recipe and roasting process. They start with backyard raised pigs, fed with a diet of fresh vegetables and organic feeds. To flavor the meat, lots of garlic, onion bulbs, leeks, and a special medley of aromatic herbs are stuffed into the belly.
To achieve the extra crispy skin, Binamira invented a tool to prick the skin all over and allow the skin to crackle as the fat from the prickling would ooze out during the roasting process.
Zubuchon has several branches in Cebu City. From small takeout kiosk, drive-thrus and restaurant branches. In February 2017, they opened their first restaurant in Metro Manila in Makati City.