The first time that I was introduced to Zubuchon was close to a decade ago, during one of my travels to Cebu. My hotel in Mactan was just across from a Zubuchon branch, and I ate breakfast and lunch there; dining again at another branch when I found myself wandering in the Cebu I.T. Park. And at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, it was where we grabbed a quick bite and where we bought our frozen lechon pasalubong for our family.
Flash forward to many years later, Zubuchon now has multiple branches across the metro. There was one close to where I used to live in Bacoor and when my good friend was staying in Las Pinas, we decided to meet up there for lunch.
The Zubuchon branch in SM Southmall Las Pinas was smaller than other branches I’ve visited in Cebu, but the food quality was equally the same. It was one of the things that stood out to me: the restaurant’s consistency. The lechon was exceptional as always; it had that umami flavor that I just can’t pin down. (Could be the rosemary and thyme they use, but for sure, there are other “secret” ingredients in the salt rub or marinade).
My friend Lady and I ordered lechon (roasted baby pig), ensaladang talong (Filipino eggplant salad), dynamite (deep fried egg rolls with chili and cheese). For dessert, we ordered cassava cake.
Our table was right beside the kitchen which had transparent glass walls, so we were able to see as the cooks were preparing the dishes. Naturally, I took a photo of the lechon belly (as seen below).
Saying the food was good is an understatement. Zubuchon took these humble foods to the next level, without altering the ingredients too much and gave it their own spin. It’s Filipino comfort food when you miss eating special or Filipino fiesta food. Indeed, it was especially prepared and seasoned well.
For me, Zubuchon’s boneless lechon is the best lechon in Manila. I’ve tried others, and they were good in their own ways; but still I dare say that Zubuchon tops them all. Though inspired by the Filipino lechon, Zubuchon certainly added a new twist to it to make it so sumptuous and unique.
Zubu is a portmanteau of the ancient name given to Cebu in old Portuguese maps, “Zubu,” and “Chon” for lechon.
Zubuchon is the brainchild of no less than Joel Binamira, the key figure behind the popular blog Marketmanila.com. Market Manila was one of the most popular food blogs back then and still is. Binamira, in today’s modern parlance, is an OG.
Binamira further made a name for himself when Anthony Bourdain noticed him. Bourdain admired how well-researched Binamira’s articles were, and so he met up with him during his visit to the Philippines for his show “No Reservations.” The Cebuano blogger cooked lechon for the late renowned chef, in the manner his grandmother made it. Bourdain called Binamira’s version of lechon “the best pig ever,” which eventually became the restaurant’s tagline.
How was Zubuchon’s lechon cooked?
According to the restaurant chain’s website, their lechon is unique because it was cooked in an old-fashioned way, with updates here and there. The skin color isn’t altered with soy sauce or sugar water, which are typically used to baste lechon; instead, they spray their backyard-raised pigs with coconut water and wipe it with olive oil prior to cooking.
The lechon is stuffed with local organic ingredients, and Zubuchon claims they don’t use MSGs. They also use sea salt to season the lechon. Finally, because it is a Cebuano lechon, it is not served with liver sauce, but instead with a vinegar or soy sauce/chili oil dip.
Address: Unit 1170 Upper G/F, SM Southmall, Las Pinas, Metro Manila
Contact Number: (0908) 873 47 68
Have you tried Zubuchon? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments’ section below!