Ask any of the locals for the original liempo in Balamban and they’ll direct you to Johnna’s Liempo Haus. Balamban, located in the western part of Cebu, is known for its distinctive method of grilling Liempo using traditional herbs and spices, similar to how you would prepare Lechon Cebu. Bebot Mapa, the creator of the original recipe of Balamban Liempo, rightfully deserves the “original” label. He is not affiliated with the Balamban Liempo brand you’ll find across Cebu. He sells his liempo at a humble take-out store near Balamban’s public market. Johnna’s Liempo Haus Balamban Public Market Mobile: +639182065607 Besides the style of grilling liempo, Balamban is also known as the 4th biggest shipbuilder in the world. Going to Balamban from Cebu takes around an hour by bus/car and includes going up the mountains and crossing its zigzag highways. Bebot Mapa started his business 16 years ago, peddling his liempo across the public market. When it started to do well, he decided to open his first mom and pop store–Johnna’s Liempo Haus–formerly known as Kristian Liempo. Johnna’s is just across the Balamban Church. Liempo (P195) Rather than cooking the whole lechon, the original inventor decided to just have the belly marinated like Lechon Cebu. The stuffing uses traditional local herbs and spices like garlic, spring onions, salt, and pepper. The process involves making a cut between a slab of the pork belly and then wedging in the mixture. After boiling it, they then proceed to grill it over charcoal to get that crispy finish. Tasting the liempo reminds you of lechon with that distinct aroma and taste from the herbs. The liempo was very tasty and juicy. We liked that the herbs did not overpower the flavor of the meat. Notice the distinct thick layer of fat that’s characteristic of Bebot’s style of liempo. My favorite part is the golden-brown crackling skin that we sinfully love. Pair it with his homemade local vinegar and puso rice wrapped in coconut leaves. You can ask the store vendors where you can enjoy your meal at a nearby karinderia for an additional corkage fee. If you’re ever in the area of Balamban, don’t miss the chance to try the original liempo that the locals are proud of! Johnna’s Liempo Haus Balamban Public Market Mobile: +63 918 206-5607 Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of Joana’s as part of our Next Stop: Cebu shoot. We wrote this article with our biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. To lessen the guilt, Bebot taught us to use a turbo broiler for cooking liempo so we could drain all the fats and oil.