We were in Cebu a few weeks back and for somebody like me who’s been here several times (I even speak the dialect), there’s really not much to do except check out new spots or visit familiar hang-outs.
This time, I had one item on the agenda: dine at Zubuchon restaurant since it’s probably the only lechon brand popular among foodies that I haven’t tasted.I found out that the easiest way to go here is through a taxi where a simple mention of “One Mango Mall” would suffice. It’s in the same low-rise complex where Sunburst Fried Chicken and a Xiamen restaurant is.
Having been to those run of the mill lechon restos in Retiro where you feel like you’re eating in the slaughterhouse yourself, I immediately felt at home in Zubuchon’s no-frills and contemporary ambiance. The white chairs certainly brightened up the place. Service was very attentive, probably because the staff (about a dozen of them) outnumbered the customers at the time of our visit which was during the off-peak hours.
And yes, I would fly all the way to Cebu for this roasted pork with its tender meat and perfectly crispy skin. I don’t know how Zubuchon tastes when it’s flown via cargo to Manila but I have to say there’s nothing like getting it hot, fresh and cut up on the spot!
Bourdain may have erred in saying it’s the best pig ever since pig is the uncooked version. But I have to say it’s the best pig ever…. for roasting. The Zubuchon purveyor (blogger Martketman) claims this is the healthy lechon since the pigs are bred in the backyard and fed an organic diet.They also don’t use MSG or “articial flavor enhancers. What goes into the pig: lemongrass, lemons, rosemary and olive oil. The skin is sprayed with coconut water as a final touch.
We ate at Zubuchon for two days in a row and the pork theme was dominant throughout.For example, our orders of pancit sotanghon and adobong kangkong would always be topped with crumbled bits of chicharon. And because our bill clocked up to more than P1000 each time, they gave me the loyalty reward of free two free containers of lechon sisig (which I would bring to Manila).
The sotanghon was a bit too sweet. I don’t know if this is a regional thing as I know Visayans like to add sugar to balance the saltiness of a dish.
Their slow-cooked adobo (P220) brought me to the days of my childhood when my grandma cooked this dish. The adobo is dry and it seems all the flavors of the sauce seeped into the meat. Probably a result of being simmered in claypot over charcoal for three hours. It’s good and I would order this as an alternative if I wasn’t bingeing on the lechon.:D
Another indulgence: the five pork fried rice (P190) which the menu describes as composed of Zubuchon, tampalen (belly fat), chicharon, lard and lechon drippings, then topped with shrimp paste and green mango.
For a small resto, Zubuchon’s menu is quite extensive. I so wanted to try their sisig & tomato pasta but it seems they couldn’t offer it on both times I was there. Their vegetable selection was as tempting as the pork entrees and I found the Zubu pickle platter (P120) as refreshing to the palate when you want an accompaniment with your meat. It is composed of pickled green mango, singkamas and green papaya.
The budbud kabog (P40) was highly recommended by our waiter Clint since he said it’s a seasonal thing. This delicacy looks like suman but isn’t since it’s not made of rice but millet (kabog), a type of whole grain.I savored every bite and thanked Clint for recommending. Budbud kabog is something I’ve heard of several times and Zubuchon Cebu is one of those rare places to get it.
Hubby’s order was a slice of biko (P50) which was generously slathered with latik and…. masarap! Perfect with the brewed coffee served in-house.
The santol juice was something new and so refreshing! Try also the kamias shake but I prefer the former.
So there you have it, the HIGHLIGHT of my Cebu City trip. Didn’t I tell you they have an extensive menu? I’ve pencilled in the following for my next visit (if they don’t change the menu soon!): the lechon dinuguan, the lechon sinigang, the lechon crispy pata, the squid stuffed with lechon sisig, the kinilaw na lechon and the sisig pasta pls!
Too bad we’d have to fly all the way to Cebu again. Am sure the foodies would wish for a full-service Zubuchon resto to open in Manila. It’s something that can feel equally at home in the swanky confines of Greenbelt 5 or the Ayala Triangle Gardens. It’s time to feed those figure-conscious ladies the “healthy” lechon!:)
One Mango Mall
Mango Avenue, Cebu City
Tel. 032.236.5264, 0917- 6274761