Zubuchon – The Best Lechon (in Cebu)!?


After our Danao, Bohol trip, we decided to fly out via Cebu, and our last stopover was in Banilad Town Center. We decided to stop there because it is near Our Lady of Peace by the Pink Sisters where we wanted to hear Sunday Mass. I remembered the buzz about Marketmanila’s Zubuchon before the Christmas Season, and bringing home a Cebu Lechon was the perfect pasalubong for our families.

I heard a lot of foodies raving about the lechon, so I was excited to try it for myself.

I was surprised that the stall still had a lot of supply after lunch on a Sunday. Usually, if you buy in CNT or any other lechon places in Cebu, the lechon is always sold out in the morning.

The first taste test was very good. The skin of the lechon is as crispy as chicharon. The story is they would puncture the lechon skin while it is being cooked to get that crispiness; hence, it is called the acupunctured pig.

The lechon has a full flavor in itself, with no need for any sauce. It is not too salty like CNT, and it has that herby flavor from the spices. I like their claim that they don’t use MSG. (I was wondering if CNT and other Cebu Lechon suppliers use it for their lechon… Would you know?)

I love Zubuchon because it is lechon done in an old-school manner but with a noticeable leap forward in terms of taste. The pig is cooked naturally without any MSG, artificial mixes, and artificial painting of the skin. You can taste the quality of the herbs they use…

“We use only the freshest and often home grown organic lemongrass, green onions, siling labuyo or peppers, local sea salt, and other herbs and spices.” – Joel, MarketManila.com

No doubt, this is the best lechon I’ve tasted in Cebu — better than CNT. It was able to justify its premium pricing because of its artisanal quality.

You need to buy a minimum of 2 kilos so that it could be boxed. You have the option of having it chopped or to have it wrapped as is. If you’re asking your friends to bring you a Zubuchon pasalubong, it would easily cost you P900 for 2 kilos.

However, the problem with Zubuchon is that it is only good 2-3 hours from the time you purchase it. It is perishable, so some people buy the Frozen Lechon. The frozen ones are not that good anymore when you transport them to Manila. Sometimes it is better to buy the fresh ones from the airport branch (but P40/kilo more expensive).

Despite the extensive write-up you’ll get on how to preserve the taste of the lechon when you bring it to Manila, it does not taste as good as eating it in Cebu. I don’t think there will be a way for Manilenos to enjoy it, not unless the lechon itself is cooked in Manila.

I was so proud to bring a box of Zubuchon for my family, but the taste wasn’t the same as when I tasted it in Cebu. (Maybe you have some suggestions on how to best preserve that taste and crispiness of the skin?)

You can read the featured stories in the store here:
The Marketman and his Zubuchon, and The Best Lechon ever.

Banilad Town Center
(stall in front of Robinsons Supermarket)
Telephone: +63 32-2365264, 32-5835699
Mobile: +63 917-6274761
Weekdays: 10am – 7pm (Except Monday)
Weekend: 9am – 7pm

Fresh / Frozen Lechon (P450/ Kilo)
Frozen Lechon Ready to Cook Sisig (P295)
Lechons from PHP4,000-PHP6,000 (depending on the size)

Mactan Domestic Airport, Pre-departure Lounge
(Right after the last security checkpoint in the airport)
 Airport Store Hours: 6am to 9pm

Fresh/ Frozen Lechon (P490/ Kilo)
Frozen Lechon Ready to Cook Sisig (P295)

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P.S. What’s the best Cebu Lechon for you?

52 thoughts on “Zubuchon – The Best Lechon (in Cebu)!?

  1. How did they freeze the lechon? I think using a blast freeze might help if they didn’t blast freeze it *but that’s market man, knowing his standards,it was probably blast frozen*

  2. Buti ka pa nakatikim na ng Zubuchon ni MM… 🙂 so I guess I really need to plan a trip there to enjoy it. I hope you provide a list of your recommended local lechonan here in Manila for my impulse cravings? heehee… I only know of 1 that I usually order from for parties, Carlito’s Lechon, really very good too but stocks are limited so always advanced order.

  3. Hi Anton,
    I bought mine (fresh/non-frozen) from the airport and heated it the day after so I wasn’t able to taste it fresh but even then I still thought that the lechon was really good. I don’t think CNT can even compare to it. I particularly loved that they used rosemary for seasoning.

  4. oh my. From your photo, it looks like a juicy lechon ah.
    Maybe I should try to squeeze in a Cebu trip this year.
    Hubby’s a Cebuano but now overseas. Another excuse to
    visit Cebu & his family. Hehehe.
    Thanks for the post. 🙂

  5. I’m originally from Cebu. I cringe when people look for Cebu lechon and automatically think of CNT. I think CNT was ahead (or the only one still?) of the others in packing lechon in a box, making it convenient for people to bring home as pasalubong. And, I can’t think of any restaurant that serves Cebu lechon but CNT. Other than that, CNT lechon doesn’t taste good at all. I’ve had better lechons in Manila/elsewhere.
    I’d say, order lechon from Alejo’s. Or Rico’s. If you wanna bring back lechon to Manila (or have one sent airport to airport), go with Rico’s (they know how to pack it well, with better chances of the skin arriving still crispy). If you can’t get from Alejo’s or Rico’s, I’d say try Cang’s.
    I’ve not tried MM’s lechon yet. I’ve seen it at the airport but wanted to try it fresh. I have some family members who still prefer Alejo’s or Rico’s though. Still, I hope to try MM’s soon, maybe come Easter. 😀

  6. DIET = O
    Hahahah =)
    I remember eating all the lechon you had in UTT 3.0… =)
    It was one of the best days of my life…. haaaaaayyy….. hehe =)

  7. Hi Anton,
    Thanks for the post on Zubuchon and I am glad you got a chance to try it. Here are a couple of comments which might help to clarify things…
    1. The BEST WAY to enjoy a lechon is when it is minutes off the flames… in other words wickedly fresh. However, many purveyors do sell their lechons for up to 8 hours after it has been cooked. At Zubuchon, they try to sell the lechon within 4 hours after it is cooked or packaged. And yes, the transported version is NOT as good as the freshly cooked lechon, but we feel it is still noticeably better than others we have tried, but we are biased at this point. 🙂
    2. A few other purveyors in Cebu claim they are MSG-free. But if you want to be sure, ask them the direct question “Do you use any MSG or any instant flavoring products with MSG (such as sinigang mix, ginisa mix, etc.). I think MOST lechons in Cebu and commercially manufactured in Manila have a lot of MSG. I have interviewed several lechoneros and almost all of them admit to extensive MSg use, sometimes as much as a CUP of MSG per lechon, depending on size. And they add lots of salt on top of that. Personally, I think you can make a tasty lechon without added MSG, but it inevitably costs more to make as fresh spices and other ingredients are needed in abundance.
    3. Our frozen lechon comes with instructions to re-heat, but it is best done pritchon style in my opinion, though we have several regulars who seem to like it just re-heated. The skin can be crisped up in a hot oven.
    4. We are about to begin shipping whole lechons to Manila, as after 9 experiments we seem to have a formula which yields reasonably good lechons, despite the extended travel time. We have no plans of cooking these in Manila at this point.
    5. Finally, economy isn’t necessarily cheaper or better value. When ordering whole lechons, ALWAYS ask the purveyor to give you a reasonable range of whole cooked weight, rather than silly estimates of “good for 25-35 people”… Pig prices FLUCTUATE wildly, specially during holiday periods, so it’s best to ask what to expect. In other words, don’t compare one person’s PHP3,500 peso quoted lechon with another’s lechon solely on price. You might find that the first purveyor will deliver a 5 kilo total weight lechon for PHP3,500 or roughly pHP700 per kilo on average, while another will deliver a 10 kilo lechon for PHP4,500 or roughly PHP450 per kilo on average. And don’t believe them when they say they don’t know how much it weighs, since if they ship it, that data will be on the bill of lading of the airline anyway, less packaging.
    Enjoy your lechon, wherever you buy it from! 🙂

  8. Oops, forgot two points…
    We cook lechons for delivery to our outlets in the morning and early afternoon. Our airport outlets get 2-3 deliveries per day on most days to ensure the lechon is as fresh as possible.
    Zubuchon does not charge for boxes for orders of two kilos or more. So actually, our effective cost is the same if not slightly more than our competitors, and all our lechons are stuffed with all natural herbs and spices and bathed in olive oil, plus are cooked the old-fashioned way, using experienced lechoneros and traditional bamboo poles…not automated roasting machinery.

  9. Ohhh this made me hungry. I’m not a fan of ordinary lechon but when it’s Cebu lechon it’s a different story!
    By the way Anton, I just discovered this cafe and thought you might want to try it:
    La Scala Cafe
    My BF and I really enjoyed it. 🙂

  10. any cebu lechon but CNT!!!
    they say the best are those from talisay and carcar. haven’t been there but the taxi driver (they never fail anywhere in the country) brought us to those turo-turo type lechon makers on the way to the cebu airport. they (the pigs) were awesome!!!
    try also zubuchon sisig. say a prayer for the pig and for yourself before eating those. any meal may be your last hehe.

  11. Yeah I guess CNT is just the most popular but not the best according to people in Cebu. I haven't tasted the others so I won't be able to compare.  But yeah I like the rosemary taste in the meat.

  12. I've heard of La Scala Cafe but have not been there… thanks for the tip. It must be that good if you enjoyed it.
    Live an Awesome Life,
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    Founder, http://www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
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    Latest Blog Post on Our Awesome Planet: Zubuchon – The Best Lechon (in Cebu)!?

  13. Thanks for this comment. I'll be trying Alejo's, Rico's, and Cang's when I go back to Cebu. I'll do an ultimate taste test of Cebu Lechon 🙂

  14. Thanks for the great tip on ordering whole lechon and comparing it based on weight.
    I would agree that doing a pritchon style would be better, than oven re-heat. But I guess shipping the entire lechon in Manila and being able to preserve its crispiness is the key. Let us know if the whole pig shipment process is already ready and commercially available in the market.
    Also, I just noticed though, Zubuchon is not that popular among people in Cebu. Their top of mind is CNT and if you ask them if they tried Zubuchon, most of them would say NO. I find it odd though that not a lot of cebuanos have tried it since it was available in the market since November.

  15. Thanks for the tip on the delivery times. I was wondering about it because it would be best to get the fresh lechon when it is delivered.
    On the box, it is very nice and I was wondering why you were not charging for it 🙂 But I guess it is a good incentive to buy 2 kilos worth approx P1,000 🙂  Sana may market manila na signature yung box 🙂

  16. I sure hope we can order from Zubuchon from Manila and just have it picked up at some location here… (not at the airport) kahit may surcharge.

  17. Çontrary to the posts here, my family and I loves CNT. We have brought whole lechons from CNT, Cangs and Zabuchon to Manila and for us, CNT is still tops. Maybe because we like our lechon on the salty side. My hubby described Zabuchon as gourmet lechon for the rosemary flavor.

  18. Carlito’s Lechon is by my caterer Leilani Marcelino. I only order by phone and never went to their branch/office at P.tuazon Cubao. Tel. 421-9198 / 724-1057

  19. Hi, I’ve been wanting to sample Zubuchon for quite some time now and finally got the chance to do so this evening. My sister was in Cebu over the weekend and she brought home a kilo of frozen Zubuchon last night. We thawed and heated it according to the instructions given. The skin was no longer crisp of course, so I asked our cook to fry it (also per instruction).
    I so wanted it to be good but I was quite disappointed. It was way too salty, even with vinegar. My tongue and palate still feel quite sore from all the saltiness. The skin did crisp up a bit but it was like eating a brown salt chip. Waah!
    My sister didn’t like it either and said that she should’ve just bought lechon from CNT.

  20. My mom has a no fail way of making lechon skin crispy after buying from store or after storing it in the freezer/ref — Just fry the lechon skin. Depending on the quality of lechon skin, one can either put a little cooking oil or none at all and fry away. Crispy and tasty lechon then awaits to be eaten. : )

  21. Wow, this made want to try zubuchon…I’m from Cebu but I didn’t know about it, until you wrote about it here. I only tried Talisay’s lechon and CNT, but I guess I preferred the first better (I’m going to try this one, too!)…thanks for your information. Great site, by the way!

  22. why are you torturing me!!! i open your page and what do i see… Lechon Cebu!!! waaaaa.. i miss home… i miss lechon cebu! drool drool drool

  23. Thanks for sharing your experience! I don't think there would be a way to transport the Zubuchon to Manila and for it to maintain its quality. The taste is totally different already when transported to Manila.

  24. The way I kept the skin crisp is I separated the meat from the skin then heated the skin in a toaster oven. Let it cool for a few mins. I heated the the rest of meat in a microwave.
    My only complaint is from the 2x I’ve bought from the Mactan airport I got a lot of bones some of them quite large!

  25. CNT in Cebu City is pretty famous because they do not undercook their lechon, but they are not really the best in Cebu City. If you notice in the pictures you posted, the meat of the lechon is pinkish. This is intentionally done (undercook) so that 1 whole pig will yield more per kilo serving since the lechon will be heavier in this case. Undercooking is not bad, but cooking the lechon well is better–this is done when you buy 1 whole lechon. You can see the difference in the color of the meat, and this is why 1 whole lechon in Cebu tastes better than per kilo lechon of the same brand. If you want to test the best lechon in Cebu (as a whole), go down south to Talisay town. Manila’s lechon advertise itself as “Cebu Lechon” but when you’re in Cebu City, they advertise themselves as “Talisay Lechon”. You get the point. They sell not per kilo but by negotiating the price based on how you perceive the size is (in Visayan, “mata-mata”). This is because they cook their lechon well, and not leave those pinkish meat undone. Alejo’s and Rico’s lechon are famous in Cebu City too.

  26. Hi Anton! My husband used to bring home lechon frequently. Unfortunately he has not been to Cebu for some time and so we have yet to try Zubuchon. What he does is he buys a whole piece. Then to “revive” the lechon he places it in the oven and uses the grill element with the fan on. Fifteen minutes should do the trick. Don’t try it with chopped pieces because this will dry it up. Hope this works just as well for you.

  27. Thanks for the tip on the Talisay Lechon. Your comment is very interesting specially on the pinkish part. I'm sure a lot of people learned from this.

  28. freshly cooked lechon should be wrapped in manila paper and then boxed, never use plastic wraps as the heat will be contained and moisture will make the skin soft
    we usually request for lechon from general santos or iligan hehehehe and yes native lechon is way tastier than the backyard raised white pigs
    did you notice that the visayans/mindanaoans cook their lechon with lemon grass and onion leeks ? some lechoneros claim that they marinate/baste their lechon for 24 hours to achieve the yummy taste up to the bone !!!
    in manila, sabrosos (e rod) and family lechon (p tuazon) can be accorded to the same level of lechon coming from cebu

  29. hey anton …. true rico’s lechon is really good …. try to order the spicy lechon … 09174072033 talk to rico ….they can ship it for you .. the packaging is good that u can still enjoy the skin…
    btw, you might wanna try BALAMBAN LIEMPO …. the best so far .. along salinas drive in lahug

  30. hello everyone…anyway, share ko lang my experiences with our local lechon dealers here in cebu. basically ang CNT kasi mas sikat sya coz maliban sa masarap sya, one of their branches is nasa harap lng ng SM. na ngayon ay may sariling building na silang pinatayo all exclusively for their CNT restaurant. Second, sila lang ata ang merong stall sa foodcourt ng both SM and Ayala Cebu. so kong titignan mo, mas matunog talaga sila. pero gaya nga ng sinabi ng ibang mga fellow ‘loves of lechon’ natin dito, hehe…meron ding ibang lechon makers na masarap magluto. one of them is alejos lechon ng labangon. ang alejos may stall yan sila malapit sa isang mini market sa katipunan street ng cebu. dyan lang sila nagtitinda by kilo, if my memory serves me right. usually kasi order basis sila, so buong lechon ang tinitinda nila. on the other hand, yung carcar lechon ay talagang masarap din. yun lang yung lechon na merong sabaw. well technically di talaga sya sabaw hehe. ang sabaw dito ay ang oil ng lechon, pro mas marami to ang oil nito compare sa lechon dito sa city. you might say na sobrang cholesterol talaga, and you might have 2nd thoughts of trying it out, pero eto nalang sasabihin. some people are contented enough eating a hanging rice na sinawsaw mo sa sabaw ng lechon carcar. ganun kasarap sya. and imagine that oil nakaligo sa lechon mo. so ang lechon mo, besides crispy yung balat nya, yung lasa nya sobrang iba.
    anyway, in terms of food, mukhang marami talaga akong alam dito na masasarap na pagkain dito samin. if ever may magpapasama for documentary purposes or just plainly want to try it out, please dont hesitate to contact me through my email. bayad nyo nalng sakin is pakainin nyo rin ako ng lechn kong kakain kakayo…heheheh! and by the way, di lang lechon ang masarap na pork dito sa cebu, iba rin ang sarap ng liempo namin dito. so cge mga lechon lovers, enjoy your lechons! heheh

  31. Meron po bang nagtuturo gumawa ng lechon sa cebu or one of this “lechonans” are willing to teach a willing student. I’m from Pampanga and willing to stay and learn for days or weeeks in cebu.
    Pls. contact me at owenorange_mai@yahoo.com. I’m really serious to learn.

  32. I got to try Zubuchon last week in Cebu. It taste great though not the traditional flavor that most us are familiar with. The rosemary is a good touch and makes the flavor different or “western” in taste.Quality is topnotch.
    It is another option for people who like cebu lechon.

  33. yes that’s true Talisay is the best in terms of lechon, that is why we always celebrate the INASAL/lechon festival on our annual patronage festival in honor of st. therese of Avila. you can order that best lechon at very cheap price compared to other who claims to have been like a taste like talisay’s best. we use all organic spices and native pigs.
    you can order at this number:

  34. Just got home from Cebu. Zubuchon is fantastic. Anthony Bourdain is right. Loved the herby and saltiness flavor of the pork.

  35. Zubuchon is way overrated and way overpriced! If you want good quality lechon, try the lechon at the back of Fooda in mango avenue. Unfortunately, they don’t have a place for you to dine. However, if you’re going to the beach or plan of bringing lechon home, that’s the place to go.

  36. I’ve tried Rico’s and Alejos, and they are d**n Gooooooood!!! Have yet to try the Carcar Lechon, maybe on my next trip to Cebu 😉

  37. I still want my lechon to be spaccompanied by liver sauce, because it feels so incomplete eating a lechon without it.

  38. I tried Manong’s Lechon Cebu here in Metro Manila and they deliver door-to-door also. Same taste lang din naman ng mga Cebu lechon. Kaya di na kami pumupunta na ng airport. Nainit pa sya pagdating sa house. 7032133 yata ang tel number nila.

  39. Many people in Manila came to notice Zubuchon after Anthony Bourdain said that it’s the best lechon in the planet. But, really, how many lechons did Anthony Bourdain taste and eat in his life?
    I’m a true-bloodied Cebuano and I love and am proud of our Cebu lechon but there are many here in Cebu, even no name ones, who prepare and cook better lechon than Zubuchon.
    Sorry to say this but if you love rosemary in a lechon, that’s something but it’s not Cebuano.

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