A lip-smacking, skin-crackling, heart attack-inducing bite of crispy lechon skin is what I craved for the second time I touched down on Cebu. I remember the first time I set foot in the city some months before this trip and not being able to have a taste of what Anthony Bourdain called the best pig ever. Yes, I’m talking about Zubuchon.
Iligan City is actually where I was heading to, it just so happened that a ticket to CDO costs so much. Checking the airline deals online, I found bookings to Cebu via Tigerair Philippines to be the cheapest. So book for Cebu I did. Well, it was also in part due to lechons, I have to admit.
It was a sunrise flight—a very beautiful one at that—my first such, if my memory serves me right. There was a problem associated with the too early flight though, finding a restaurant in Cebu serving lechon that early in the morning. I immediately consulted Google Maps and located the Zubuchon located a few kilometers off Mactan’s international airport. They’re open!
Zubuchon’s place in Lapu-Lapu City is located at the lobby of Islands Stay Hotel, that same one that sells those beautiful souvenir shirts. Its interior is light and modern. Clean white walls, light plastic chairs, simple black tables and a few splashes warm lights and red walls for highlights. It felt both sparsely modern but cozy. I was the lone customer in the joint; I think they’ve just opened for the day.
The staff was preparing trays and trays of lechons as I gave my order. I was silently ordering my mouth to stop watering as I patiently waited for my meal.
For Manileños, Zubuchon is as associated with Cebu as Magellan’s Cross probably is. But it’s interesting to note that a couple of Cebuanos I’ve talked with do not like Zubuchon and would’ve nothing to do with it all. It’s not an authentic Cebu lechon they said.
Well, I guess it really isn’t. And I don’t think it’s claiming to be one either. In fact it’s a lechon creation by Market Manila. It just so happened that they have no other branches besides those in Cebu. But I guess the fact that they’re using Zubu, which is Cebu’s old name found on maps, beside the word lechon irks some of the more traditional Cebuanos to no end.
And Zubuchon’s claim to fame is when the infamous Anthony Bourdain visited Cebu and exclaimed that it was the best pig he has tasted, ever! Now anyone who’s heard of the cynic Bourdain probably wouldn’t take a statement like that lightly. There must be really something to this lechon to make Cebuanos all riled up and an international chef exclaiming to high heavens.
But enough of lechon politics and let’s see what the fuss is really all about. I ordered Zubuchon’s Pritchon (Php150.00) from their breakfast meals which comes with fried rice, eggs, acharra and coffee, tea or juice. Unfortunately, during my visit, the real lechons won’t be available until after 10:00am, so I have to make do with their morning fares.
As with most eateries selling lechons in Cebu, you won’t find any Mang Tomas sauce here. Which was really too bad as the Pritchon, which is basically a fried Zubuchon lechon (leftover from the previous day?), wasn’t any good. It was not tender, too dry and not too tasty, except for a few small bits. I was totally disappointed considering it’s price; I was on a budget and I already considered this a splurge.
The best pig ever? Not by a long shot if you ask me. Am I better off with Cebu’s CnT Lechon? Hmm… I can’t really say just yet. To be fair to Zubuchon, I guess I really have to try their real lechon first before totally throwing Anthony Bourdain’s words down the bin. And I can almost hear my Cebuano friends tell me, told you so.
Zubuchon Lapu-Lapu City
Address: Island Stays Hotel, M.L. Quezon National Hwy., Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City
Contact Number: (032) 505-0130
Breakfast Menu: Click Here
Open Hours: Mon-Fri 6:00am to 10:00pm
GPS Coordinates: +10° 19' 32.03", +123° 58' 31.95"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here