Let’s admit it! When you hear the word ‘Lechon’, there’s only one place that ever comes to mind: Cebu or The Queen City of the South! Ask anybody and they’ll tell you that Cebu Lechon is the Best Lechon but not just in the Philippines, but the whole world!
This is because Cebu Lechon is well-known to embody the tenderness and warm gestures of the Cebuanos than other varieties of lechon found in the market. But there’s definitely more to Cebu’s Lechon than what meets the eye. Here’s why Cebu Lechon is the Best!
Cebu Lechon Explained
‘Lechon’ or suckling pig, just the sheer mention of the name brings excitement for any Filipino and foreign guests who have gotten a taste of this national dish. Especially since its presence almost always guarantees a festive atmosphere.
Also, Lechon has long been considered as the star of the feast and it is always present and sought out during any festivities, gathering, and holidays. But what is ‘lechon’?
Lechon is a pork dish that involves using the entire pig or piglet (Lechon de Leche) that has been impaled in a bamboo branch and is slowly roasted over charcoal. However, the preparation of this classical dish can take a long time and it will require practiced and proper techniques to guarantee that one can get a tender meat with a golden crispy skin finale.
How To Cook Lechon
Traditionally, the whole pig is left to roast above a bed of charcoals for about two to four hours which will depend on the size of the pig. Although most of the lechons are cooked and are rotated mechanically, some of the elder lechoneros still insist on doing it manually to achieve the perfectly even color and cooked skin.
Throughout the roasting process, the meat must be continuously smothered in its own juice and the ingredients that were sewn inside its belly will slowly seep into the meat while the skin turns crispy and crunchy.
The end result would be a savory and unforgettable experience of letting your teeth sink into the succulent meat producing a loud crispy and tasty crunch.
Cebu’s Lechon VS Manila’s Lechon
While Lechón is a popular food in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Spanish-speaking nations. It was brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines during the Colonial Period. Since then, Filipinos have honed their roasting skills to perfection making it the centerpiece for their feasts.
The Filipinos have also experimented and created their own variants and versions of Lechon. And each region or area has their own distinct ingredients to be used and different roasting techniques.
However, when it comes to Lechon popularity, “Cebu Lechon” is arguably being hailed as the best variant.
For Cebu’s Lechon, it is stuffed with lemongrass, a local variety of banana known as “saba,” green onions, sliced onions, whole cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, lots of salt, and other condiments. It is the stuffing that gives the Cebuano lechon its unique crispy and sweet taste that is loved by both locals and even foreigners.
On the other hand, variants for Luzon’s lechon aren’t typically stuffed with herbs. But rather they just add salt and pepper. For Manila’s lechon, it is distinct from Cebu’s because of its liver-based sauce that is made from vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, mashed liver, breadcrumbs, garlic, and onion. And instead of coconut husk, Manila lechon is also typically cooked over wood.
11 Reasons Why Cebu Lechon Is The Best Lechon In The World
What can Cebu’s Lechon offer your taste buds that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world? Here are 10 reasons why Cebu Lechon should be your only lechon from now on!
No Sauce Needed
Cebu’s Lechon is known to be exceptionally tasty without the need of some sort of sauce to enhance its flavor. This is mainly due to the special spices and herbs added to it before cooking. While the spices may vary from one lechoneros from another, they add to the flavor of the Cebu lechon that makes them the best in the archipelago.
Cebu Pioneered the Spicy Lechon Variety
The Cebuanos have also found another way to make this national dish even more appetizing. In order to combat the greasy feeling of the pig, Cebu was the first to pioneer the spicy chili lechon variety by adding chili leaves and other spicy combinations that gives Cebu’s lechon it’s sinfully delicious flavor.
To solidify this statement, Rico’s Lechon unveiled its new logo which showcased their pig mascot, Rikki, in the traditional Pinoy garb, holding a bamboo pole of “silis” or peppers. The peppers are there to tell the world that it was Rico’s Lechon that pioneered the spicy flavored lechon that many people have grown to love.
A Variety of Lechon Cooking Style to Choose and Enjoy
Since Cebu is known to be the best in the country to provide lechon, you can definitely expect that there are a number of lechon restaurants to choose from. There are also other smaller places that offer lechon and each of them have their own unique recipes.
Cebuanos Pioneered the Lechon Belly
Instead of buying a whole lechon, you can actually opt to get the meaty and boneless part of the pig called the Lechon Belly. The Lechon belly is one of the innovations from Cebu, where the lechon is still cooked the same way as a regular Cebu lechon but it is being debonded before adding the special ingredients. You can easily find these specialties in the market and they are just as crispy and savory as the original.
The Juicy Meat
Another reason why people go crazy about lechon is because of its natural juiciness and taste. Inside the meat of the pig, some cooks know how to add the right spices and herbs that simply makes the aroma of lechon irresistible.
And when it is cooked perfectly, it mustn’t be dry or stale but luscious and savory. Where you can see the juiciness of the meat every time you take a piece of it.
Although Cebu’s lechon takes pride in their roasted pig’s ability to stand without a sauce. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any condiments that were created. Each restaurant will also have its own version to pair with lechon.
Some will look like bright orange dip sauce which are usually sweet and sour in taste. Others would be a thick brown gravy sauce that is also sweet but are usually made with the liver of the pig. Each sauce will add more taste to the lechon so don’t be shy and make sure to ask for that sauce!
Recommended by Famous American Chef, Anthony Bourdain
It’s not only the locals who made a comment that Cebu has the “The Best Pig Ever” but even the famous American Chef, Anthony Bourdain features Cebu’s Lechon in one of his No Reservation episodes which aired in 2009.
Lechon Leftovers Are A Whole New Recipe All By Itself
There are countless delicious dishes you can make with a leftover lechon. Since the pork was cooked Cebuano style, its flavor remains.
You can use your leftover lechon by making it into an Adobo, or deep fried pork. And if you want to move it a step further, you can add the adobong lechon into your salad. Wouldn’t that be something?
You can make leftover lechon as a snack and cook them into what Cebuanos refer to as little pockets of heaven or empanada.
If you also like shawarma, then make some lechon wraps at home and add some leafy greens. It’s definitely a no-brainer dish that’s easy and light on the stomach.
There are a lot more recipes online, so don’t worry if you can’t finish the whole pig. There are plenty of ways to finish them tomorrow.
Cebu’s Lechon pigs are native pigs fed only by organic feeds.
Cebu’s is the healthier choice which is guaranteed for any Lechon lovers as the pigs served by the brand are native to the Philippines and have only been fed organic feeds from their backyard piggeries. Their meats are processed under strict government regulations and standards to ensure that only quality and sanitary pigs reach the customers.
Celebrity and Popular personalities endorse Cebu’s Lechon.
Cebu’s Lechon’s fame reaches not only local celebrities in Cebu but also from Manila. The big name celebrities who can’t get enough of this mouthwatering pork dish are:
Former President Joseph Estrada, he is one of Cebu’s biggest endorsers. The former president chose Cebu over three other varieties to serve his guests during his birthday at the Malacañang Palace.
During the campaign period, now President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte with his group, came to Cebu to enjoy Lechon to have a surprise birthday celebration for his ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman at Mactan Promenade restaurant.
Rico’s Lechon, one of Cebu’s leading, if not, number one Lechon brands has bagged three International Awards in the 16th Annual Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards held in Vienna, Austria last October 19, 2019.
Rico’s Lechon is the only internationally-recognized and multi-awarded lechon brand from Cebu, Philippines. And it is widely known to be the lechon choice of celebrities, well-known public figures and the masses for being successful in consistently providing the best dine-in and take-out experience for its customers through its “Da Best Gyud” culture.
More than their service, each Rico’s Lechon’s branch has aimed to provide a transformative experience for every gathering to turn into a memorable occasion for its diners.
And with its innovative approach and appeal of the “Da Best Gyud” culture to the public, they generated an increase in awareness and customer retention that helped the brand to grow from a company of 50 strong employees to more than 500 employees and 6 more additional branches in just 8 months.
For these accomplishments, Rico’s Lechon has been conferred with the highest commendation as the “Company of the Year” GOLD Stevie® Award.
On another note, the IBA also awards Rico’s Lechon as the “PR Campaign of the Year” Bronze Level Stevie® Award in recognition of their innovative mix of traditional and new media approach that helped bring Rico’s Lechon to arrive closer to the hearts and minds of its target diners in Metro Manila.
The campaign was a huge success and has heralded the wide acceptance of a well-loved Cebu Lechon brand in the Philippines’ Capital.
All of these wouldn’t have been possible without the strong leadership and guidance of the respected President of No Limits Food Corporation and Meat Concepts Corporation, Mr. George Nocum Pua (GNP) who is at the helm of these corporations and is the face behind running Rico’s Lechon.
With his passion and love for food, Mr. GNP is also managing the following multi-award brands such as KPub BBQ, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant, OPPA Chicken, Modern China, OGAWA Traditional Japanese Restaurant.
For his numerous achievements in successfully managing his world-class restaurant brands and successfully cultivating the Rico’s Lechon brand, the IBA 2019 judges has decorated Mr. GNP with the coveted “Entrepreneur of Year” GOLD Stevie® Award.
Top 5 Best Places to Eat Lechon in Cebu
We wrote an extensive article on the TOP 15 BEST LECHON IN CEBU which we update regularly. Be sure to check it out.
If you’ve gotten this far, you must already be craving to taste the Lechon that Cebu takes pride in. There are plenty of Lechon offered in the City however, if you want to savor the experience and really get the gastronomical experience you are looking for. Make sure to drop by any of these places:
(1) Rico’s Lechon
Ask any local from Cebu on where you can taste the best Lechon in Cebu, and almost every time they’ll point you towards the name, Rico’s Lechon. Rico’s Lechon is also the only Globally Recognized Lechon Brand from Cebu, Philippines. It is believed to be the pioneer of the spicy flavored lechon in Cebu.
Rico’s Lechon has been operating for the past 23 years growing from a homemade and backyard business to a chain of world class restaurants under the management of Meat Concepts Corporation of George Nocum Pua.
You can find that Rico’s Lechon has a lot of branches in Cebu, namely in Axis, Mactan, Mandaue, and Ayala Central Bloc. They also have restaurants setup in Luzon such as their BGC, Glorietta, Tiendesitas, U.P. Town, SM MOA, SM North EDSA, BlueBay and San Juan Commissary branches.
However, what sets apart Rico’s Lechon from other brands is that one of their dining areas is carefully designed to be adjacent to their in-house roasting pit. This provides the best experience for first timers as Rico’s serves their lechon hot and fresh from their in-house roasting pit.
Directions to Rico’s Lechon Mandaue
(2) Carcar Lechon
As we’ve mentioned before, Central Cebu is not just the place where you can enjoy the delicious taste of Lechon. When it comes to roasted pigs, Carcar, a Southern City of Cebu is also considered the Queen of all Lechon marketplace.
The varieties found in Carcar are packed with so many flavors because their pigs are bathed in broth and roasted pig drippings. These lechon offers a different experience as during the cooking process, there’s a plate at the bottom of the roast to catch all the oil.
The oil packed a concentrated flavor of the pork making it tastier but also fatter. However, if you do have heart problems or hypertension. Be sure to eat only a healthy amount of this dish.
Directions to Carcar:
(3) Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly
If you want to enjoy the best parts of lechon right away, Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly (COLB) is the beauty you need. It was started by Mr. Marlon Gochan when he innovated the new technique in preparing the Lechon Belly by deboning a whole pork belly or the side of pig.
COLB also guarantees their customers that they only get the freshest meat and spices to achieve superior taste for all of our Boneless Lechons. Their friendly and courteous staff have been trained to prepare our foods with utmost care for guaranteed satisfaction and cleanliness for all of our customers.
Cebu Original Lechon Branches
You must have heard about how Anthony Bourdain, famous American celebrity chef who explored international culture and cuisine made a comment stating Cebu has “The Best Pig Ever!” which placed Lechon on the map?
It was Zubuchon’s founder, Joel Binamira, who prepared and served the roasted pig that Bourdain had enjoyed. Although they do provide roasted pigs that are bathed in the usual herbs, they do have an added secret ingredient that gives their lechon a unique taste.
A little history of Zubuchon, Zubu came from the 16th century maps that refer to the island of Cebu as “Zubu” + CHON that means stuffed and roasted pigs.
Zubuchon is well known to only use local ingredients whenever possible for their lechon and other dishes. They hold firm with their statement saying that they don’t use any added MSG, food coloring or chemical preservatives in their menu. They use only natural sea salt, native coconut vinegar, freshly squeezed coconut milk, and backyard-raised pigs.
Directions to Zubuchon
(5) House of Lechon
The House of Lechon Cebu is one of the places known for having one of the best-tasting lechon in Cebu. Their restaurant is well-known for mixing an elegant dining experience with a delicious meal for Filipinos and foreigners alike. Their interior design also showcases a touch of native Filipino culture that is both welcoming and relaxing for dine-in customers.
Also, you don’t have to go too far to taste Carcar’s Lechon as the House of Lechon is also known to offer the Carcar’s unique flavors right at the heart of the Queen City of the South. This is great for foreigners who are only staying in Cebu for a few days and don’t have much time to travel to Carcar City themselves.
Just a little insight, Carcar City is well-known to offer a special and distinct ‘lechon sauce’ that isn’t like any of the regular dips since it is made from the juice that comes from the lechon itself. But don’t worry, you can opt to separate the dip from your leachon meal especially if you don’t want your meal to be too greasy.
Directions to House of Lechon