Esquire's Essential Lechon List For the Year of the Pig
Filipinos will never grow tired of lechon. It brings family and friends together during joyous occasions, or a smile on our faces during sad ones. That all-too-familiar crackle from its skin is enough to send pleasurable chills down our spines. Even through times of uncertainty, poverty, or despair, lechon is there to remind us that there are good things to look forward to and be thankful for.
These are our favorites.
The OG. For decades, it was the undisputed king of lechon in Metro Manila. While many have come in for a slice of its market share, Elar's (with an “s,” please) continues to be a nostalgic favorite.
Quezon Avenue corner Speaker Perez Street, Quezon City; 731-7551, 731-7552, 732-4116, 743-3657
Way before Cebu-style lechon created a buzz here in Luzon, Ulcing’s already made a name for itself among those in the know. True to its style, the juicy meat is so flavorful it has no need for liver sauce.
22 Bayani Road, Taguig City; 810-6408
Made popular by its garlic-stuffed variety, General’s lechon is all about flavor. The Negros style roast is lauded for its skin that stays crispy until the party ends.
3 Guillermo Street, Parañaque City and 2/F Petron Dasmariñas Village, Arnaiz Avenue corner EDSA, Makati City; 644-1700, 956-5099, 0917-8LECHON
This Bacolod export is solid proof that southerners are the masters of the art. The best part of this roast are the ribs where the juicy flesh just falls off the bones and is heavily flavored with lemongrass.
Along Katipunan Road and E. Rodriguez Avenue, QC; 0920-123-9999, 725-0711, 961-9934, 961-9782, 656-2005
ROAST PORK BELLY
Le Chon by Happy Ongpauco-Tiu
The appeal of Ongpauco-Tiu’s porchetta lies not only in its glassy, crispy skin and unctuous meat, but also in the attention given to its sides and condiments. The baba ganoush eggplant side dish can only be the work of a true gourmand.
The Grid, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati City. Follow @lechonbyhappyongpaucotiu on Instagram.
When the hankering for lechon comes at the most inopportune time, Tatang’s is there to scratch your itch. It was one of the first to make lechon belly readily available to the masses with its street-side stalls.
For branches and contact details visit their Facebook page Tatang’s Boneless Lechon.
The Broken Oven
What began as a home-based operation for the Olives siblings has become an actual brick-and-mortar near their Quezon City home. While their rice balls have brought them social media fame, it is their decadent porchetta which put them on the map.
The Gardens, Loyola Grand Villas, QC. Follow @thebrokenovenspecials on Instagram
To prove that its baked lechon belly’s skin stays crunchy for hours, Sibal’s drove its lechon up to Baguio. True enough, it still had that mouth-watering crunch when it got there. Sibal's also sells frozen slabs for those who want them extra fresh.
For orders and details, visit their Facebook page Sibal’s Premium Food.
We can thank Dulce Magat-Gibb’s hotelier hubby for peer-pressuring her into perfecting her now-emblematic roast pork belly. While nothing beats having it in Magat-Gibb’s dining room amid her fantastic tablescape, it is still delicious in less grand surroundings.
Contact 0917-862-1800 or email [email protected] for orders.
The undisputed queen of stuffed swine, Lechon Diva Dedet dela Fuente is world-renowned thanks to her tasty lechon de leches. With her creativity and flair for pageantry, dela Fuente always comes up with exciting new flavors to keep fans hooked. While the truffle lechon is a classic, her new 8 Treasures lechon filled with Chinese sausage, chestnuts, dates, cashews, salted egg, mushrooms, Chinese ham, and sticky rice is perfect for the New Year.
Call 425-4605 or 0917-866-0662 for orders. Follow @lechon_diva on Instagram.
Under the guidance of third generation owner Nard Aquino, the decades-old San Juan lechoneros went big and bold on this one. They stuffed their Tagalog-style whole roast is stuffed with different kinds of sausages and aromatics to bring us the Carnivore Lechon. For hardcore meat lovers, it’s a thing of beauty.
89 J. Basa Street, San Juan City; 724-3068, 0917-883-3391
Enting’s Special of Sagay
Bacolod native Enting Lobaton is both kinilaw master and master lechonero, skills that have made him mentor to chefs like JP Anglo and a favorite of foods lovers. So beloved are his roasted pigs that DOT secretary Berna Puyat once had his specialty manok-stuffed lechon flown in for a dinner with foodie friends.
The Marketplace, Villa Angela, Bacolod City; 034-432-2192
Bumbu’s Babi Guling
Restaurateur Tin Magsaysay Matic (Locavore) finally succumbed to the prodding of friends to sell her babi guling. Matic serves hers wrapped in banana leaf with sambal, a haricot vert and langka salad, and a heap of white rice. Highly-recommended to be eaten by hand for instant island feels.
For updates on their pop-ups, follow @bumbu.ph on Instagram.
The Lechon Shop’s Sisig
Leonardo’s puts its leftover lechon to good use at this Quezon City eatery and store selling ready-to-eat products. The sisig in particular is quite the standout with its spot-on flavors perfect for both pulutan and hangover cure with rice.
49-b Scout Tobias, QC; 725-8618
Its deep-fried pork belly is so popular in the San Juan area that it serves it all day. In the morning it comes with fried egg and garlic rice; for lunch and dinner, it's a rice meal. It also makes an appearance on its pancit bilao as a festive topping for a party favorite.
Domingo Street and Shaw Boulevard, San Juan City; Pablo Ocampo Extension, Santa Cruz, Makati City