When two Americans called banker-slash-lifestyle blogger Joel Binamira back in 2008 about his “Lechon Chronicles”, he had no idea it was the team behind Travel Channel’s ‘No Reservations’.
And he had no idea that the ‘Tony’ he spoke with over the phone was actually world-renowned chef, host, author and overall badass Anthony Bourdain.
“It wasn’t intended to be a restaurant,” Joel, who runs ‘The Market Man’ blog, said.
He adds, “It started when Anthony Bourdain asked us to roast a pig for him for his show… he enjoyed it and shared it with his worldwide audience.”
One year after the Bourdain encounter, they started selling the lechon in a weekend market in Cebu to augment his staff’s income. After two years, they set up their first restaurant in Cebu City.
The Visayan lechon distinguishes itself by its unique stuffing, and Joel’s signature lechon is made with all-natural ingredients — from the coconut water brushed on the skin to make the crackling crispier to the locally grown herbs and spices used in the stuffing.
When asked about must-try dishes in Zubuchon, Joel answered, “[Dining in Zubuchon] is more about ordering a balanced meal interms of flavors… I would rather focus on the whole orchestra rather than just one instrument.”
He recommended getting the Lechon (of course), a salad with tangy vinegar-based dressing to cut through the oiliness of the roasted pig, something spicy to keep the palate stimulates, a seafood dish to balance the pork, and a hearty soup like Sinigang. I recommend ordering their famous Kamias Shake, too. It is the perfect beverage to wash down all the Cebuano goodness.
Check out these highly recommended dishes according to Joel’s symphony of flavors:
The Star: LECHON
The world-famous lechon is served to your table straight out of the roasting pit. The crispy crackling skin is the complete opposite of the juicy and tender meat that literally yields to the fork with ease. You can definitely taste the herbs and spices in every bite. This lechon is certainly in a league of its own.
Vegetable with Vinegar-based Dressing: MUSTASA SALAD
Zubuchon’s Mustasa Salad is the perfect accompaniment with their world famous lechon. Its healthy enough to negate the guilt of eating the best roasted pig on the planet. The bitterness of the mustasa (mustard leaves) is cut by the piquant onions and sweet tomatoes. The salad is tossed in a salty and sour dressing made of locally made bagoong (shrimp paste) and some spiced vinegar.
Seafood: BAKED SCALLOPS
Aside from their world-renowned lechon, Zubuchon is also known for their scrumptious seafood dishes. One of their best-selling seafood items is their Baked Scallops: scallops generously topped with butter and cheese and grilled/broiled until the cheese is melted to a sinfully seductive state.
I’m not going to lie: I finished the entire plate of Baked Scallops (nine scallops!) all by myself… Because I am a strong, independent woman and I don’t need any help.
Something Spicy: SIZZLING LECHON SISIG
Imagine their lechon all chopped up into bits, mixed with more aromatics, and served in a sizzling plate. The lechon sisig is topped with chopped bird’s eye chili and onions, making for a spicy and savory delight you never knew was possible. It is crispier than regular sisig and has an added layer of flavor due to the roasting process; but just like regular sisig, it is perfect with an ice cold beer — preferrably locally brewed.
“It was extremely gratifying to see people enjoy it when you get to the heart of the matter, to appreciate something you make with the essence of the dish in mind and present it in the best possible way.”
“We’re just doing things the way we’ve always done them. We hope that people appreciate that this is more than just serving them food,” Joel shares. “This is more of an approach to business and food and we hope it comes out with the meal that they enjoy.”
Stay juicy. Like Coconuts Manila.