One of the ubiquitous things that you’ll see, hear or most of the time smell when you are somewhere in the island of Cebu is “lechon.”
Lechon is a pork dish which most food historians and experts believe to have originated in Spain and introduced to its former colonial possessions all over the world, including the Philippines. And since the island of Cebu became the first permanent settlement of the Spaniards in the country, it went naturally that it was also in Cebu that “lechon” was first introduced and since then, has always been associated with Cebu too.
A side note: There are food historians who speculate that the process of cooking a lechon was already practiced in some islands in the Philippines prior to the arrival of the colonizers. Regardless of its origin, nonetheless, no other country in the world treats this dish with fanatical adulation than the Philippines.
Lechon originated from the Spanish term “lechón” which refers to a slow-roasted suckling pig cooked over a fire of open coals. We don’t think we need to describe how lechon is cooked and look like. Simply look at the image below and catch yourself smacking your lips with glee.
You might wonder if we have never tasted lechon in our whole life. Of course, we did. There are also several lechon houses in the province of Iloilo where we are from. But because Cebu lechon is just so widely-popular and has become famous in the world after the itinerant TV chef Anthony Bourdain declared it the “BEST PIG EVER” in his show No Reservations, it was an opportune time for us to find out if it really is the “BEST PIG EVER.” Besides, with all the varieties of lechon in every region in the country, how did it become the best-tasting lechon among the sea of lechons?
So before we left Cebu after our 5 days and 4 nights of exploration of the islands of Cebu and Bohol last year, we walked down the street from our hotel (Center Suites) and lunched at the nearest House of Lechon Restaurant located at Kamputhaw, Cebu City.
While preparing to leave the hotel, we were arguing which restaurant offers the best lechon according to what we gathered from our friends who’ve tasted it, from reviews, and from Google. A perfect idea came up during our heated argument. Why not ask local Cebuanos themselves?
So before checking out, we asked one of the receptionists to give us some directions as to where to find the best-tasting lechon in Cebu. Without a slightest hint of doubt, she instructed us to go straight to the House of Lechon Restaurant, which is a 10-to-15-minute walk from the hotel.
Equipped with our Google Maps, we followed the directions and found ourselves in front of House of Lechon Restaurant. Without further ado, we settled ourselves in one of the empty tables and ordered all the varieties of lechons that the restaurant offers: Carcar, Carcar Spicy, and Classic.
So what makes it different from other lechons in the country? Well, the word that encapsulates the taste of Cebu Lechon, at least for us, is exquisite.
Perhaps it’s the combination of ingredients. Or it could be the effort exerted in the preparation of this dish. Or maybe the love and passion that the chefs have in preparing this delectable dish. All these assumptions as to why the taste of Cebu lechon is as it is goes down the drain the moment you start munching the crispy skin, biting the tender and moist meat, and licking the dripping, thick liver-based gravy on your fingers.
You could not imagine anything so exquisitely-tasting. A feast not only for the eyes, but for the tastebuds as well.
But no matter how exquisitely we explain to you it’s taste, you’ll never understand fully what we would be saying until you try them yourself. So the next time you visit the island of Cebu, do not leave the island without tasting the world-famous Cebu lechon in all its flavor and glory. It’s one of the things that you’ll never regret nor forget.
Share in the comments section below how you find Cebu lechon from your own experience. Let us know if it’s really the BEST PIG EVER.