Sneak Peek: The First Zubuchon in Metro Manila
Talisay Street, Barangay San Antonio, Makati City
Contact: 800-5706, 809-0149
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) We've been asking for it—and now we're finally getting it—Zubuchon is opening its first Luzon branch in Makati tomorrow, February, 26. We have a lot of feelings.
Located only a few blocks away from Ayala Avenue (near the Makati Fire Station), the flagship is designed to supply lechon to its future Manila restaurants and can roast over 24 pigs at the same time.
Zubuchon owner Joel Binamira believes Makati is a good staging ground for Manila, Mandaluyong, and Bonifacio Global City. Apart from that, he adds that the area is advantageous because it has a direct line to the airport. "The pigs are transported from Cebu to get the lechon as close to the original [taste] as possible," Joel told SPOT.ph in an exclusive interview.
Founded in 2009, Zubuchon began as a humble stall at the Banilad Town Center Sunday Market in Cebu and currently has nine branches. He shares that Zubuchon is the place to go if you want food done the old-fashioned way, with some modern tweaks. "It's really just basic, good Filipino food executed without any MSG or any shortcuts. It's probably what your mother or grandmother would cook which people don't get as much anymore," says Joel. "We're doing what we're exactly doing in Cebu," he adds.
Customers will see the familiar red, black, and white hues at the Makati branch. Architect Maya Franco, who has worked on all of Zubuchon's stores so far, designed the former warehouse to have large windows on two sides of the restaurant as Joel wants it nice and bright during the day.
Green leafy plants and brown wooden tables accentuate the place to give it a more natural vibe. "I don't see why people can't get a pleasant environment with very good food at a reasonable price," he says.
Meanwhile, here's some good news: Zubuchon has more parking slots than most places in Makati. It can accommodate more or less 20 vehicles in one go.
Zubuchon's classic lechon
Zubuchon offers two of their best-selling lechon flavors: Plain and Spicy. Their Original and Boneless (P290/P450/P880) varieties come in three serving sizes, which are perfect for families and large groups.
Joel explains that the spicy lechon is for more adventurous folks who like to kick up their meal. "The key to that spicy flavor is a really good homemade siling labuyo oil." Zubuchon uses small native chilis fresh from the Queen City of the South called kulikot that they dry in order to produce hot chili oil which they then infuse into the pig.
About 30 kilograms of pork is roasted over scorching hot charcoal for 3 1/2 hours to get that glorious, glistening brown skin. The lechon is stuffed with over 15 herbs and spices. There's no secret to it, Joel says, as it's really mostly high-quality sea salt, tanglad, onions, garlic, green onions, and a little bit of pepper. "I feel there's no proprietary recipe because lechon's been made for 500 years. It's just different in the sense that we use coconut water on the skin. No soy sauce."
Customers can adjust the taste of their lechon by adding Zubuchon's signature chili oil, soy sauce, and vinegar which are available on each table.
Joel shares that the best time to eat lechon is when it's still steaming, which means it's nice and hot. "That happens at about 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's the best time to come and get it."
According to Joel, private orders may eventually get slightly different offerings. About six years ago, Zubuchon was part of the earliest lechon makers to do a truffle lechon. "It's one of the best that we've created. Manila is a different market from Cebu so I think you'll see some innovation in the private orders as the weeks go along."
Zubuchon Pancit (P240)
Mustasa Salad with Lechon (P240)
Zubuchon's Makati branch menu is 90% the same as its branches in Cebu. Joel says that this branch has added more vegetable-based dishes to cater to more people. For those who don't fancy pork, customers can actually come in for a meal and not order lechon as its menu has over 80 items.
Sizzling Squid Stuffed with Sisig (P320)
Iba or Kamias Shake (P100)
Crab and Aligue Fried Rice (P230)
We definitely feel like celebrating now that this Cebu favorite is closer to home. Ready your hearts and tummies, because this lechon will leave you wanting more.
Zubuchon opens on Sunday, February 26.
Photos by Vincent Coscolluela