Time Magazine named the Philippines as the place to get the "best pig" in 2009 and the famous and irreverent chef, writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain declared that the lechon he tried in Cebu in 2009 was "the best pig, ever."
Undeniably, the presence of lechon at the table of any Pinoy gathering instantly turns an ordinary fete to a grand feast--the sight of a spit-roasted pig, with golden brown, crunchy skin and moist, juicy pork makes it feel like a fiesta. No wonder the late historian and famous food writer Doreen Fernandez once called the lechon the centerpiece of a Pinoy buffet.
Several varieties have popped up but for this list we’re sticking to the traditional roasted lechon. SPOT.ph went all-out for pork to see which ones deserve to be on our tables this holiday season (Note: We excluded CNT Lechon and Zubuchon for this list--though widely hailed as one of the best and may be ordered from Cebu--they do not have an outpost based in Manila).
10. Lydia’s Lechon
Address: 118 Timog Avenue, Quezon City (921-7002, 922-4665); 49-A Roces Avenue, corner Scout Reyes, Quezon City (376-5173, 376-9016); E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue corner C.J. Caparas Street, Pasig City (671-9023, 671-9053); 24 Marcos Highway corner Pambuli Street, Marikina City (682-8927, 646-0871)
Price: P750 for 1 kilo; P5,800 for 11 kilos; P6,500 for 14 kilos; P7,500 for 17 kilos
Delivery fees depend on the area
The skin on Lydia’s lechon is roasted brown and is wonderfully devoid of oil. If you’re the type who likes lechon skin just a little bit burnt, you’ll love the flavor of this lechon’s skin. It has just right amount of saltiness, but it’s the kind that you have to consume right away, otherwise it might get too tough if left to sit for long. Likewise, the pork meat is oil-less, only slightly rubbery, and best eaten when dunked in thick, standard lechon sauce.
Lydia’s number of branches and their accessibility also makes it easy to satisfy lechon cravings.
9. Jun Jun’s Cebu Lechon
Address: Ground Floor DLA Bldg., 32nd St., Justicia Drive corner Bonifacio Blvd., Global City, Taguig (815-9540); Unit KO4 Food Village, Tiendesitas, Brgy. Ugong Pasig City (706-2602, 400-3749)
Price: P175 (good for 3 people); P4,800 for lightweight; P5,900 for middle weight; P6,890 for heavy weight
Jun Jun's at the Bonifacio Global City is one of the places in Manila where you can get "Cebu-style" lechon and true enough, the meat is tender and moist with salt being the most noticeable flavor. In true Cebu-style tradition, it can be enjoyed without the sauce. The crunch in the skin, though, can be hit or miss-some parts are crunchy, some parts are rubbery, with a thick layer of fat clinging to the roasted skin. The skin can also get a little oily but it comes roasted in an even, nice, dark brown color.
Jun Jun's also serves dipping sauces on the side: toyo mixed with vinegar and their lechon sauce with tangy flavors. Chopped lechon is always available at their Taguig and Tiendesitas branches, perfect for times you just want your lechon fix without having to order a whole pig.