Does Zubuchon Really Serve The Best Roast Pig Ever? Ish Investigates

Zubuchon’s claim to fame is the declaration of celebrity chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain that they serve “The best pig…ever!” In fact, they are milking the line for all it’s worth by even printing it all over the restaurant’s walls…lest you forget.

Despite my massive respect for Mr. Bourdain, I needed to see for myself if he was right. I dropped by Zubuchon in Makati for a quick lunch with friends and finally got to try this notoriously popular restaurant.

While in Cebu last month, I did get to try a lechon cua pao sandwich at their branch in the Mactan airport. I liked it a lot but I still needed to try the actual classic lechon and their other dishes. So here’s my verdict:

Simply put, NO. I disagree with Anthony Bourdain. While the lechon was good, I would not say it’s the best ever. Maybe a contender for best Cebu lechon (I’m no expert there), but certainly not the best I’ve ever tasted considering all forms of pork.

To support my claim, I would say that the cochinillo (roast suckling pig) served in Sevilla and in numerous other places in Spain can easily beat the Zubuchon lechon.

Locally, the pork belly I had at Solaire’s Fresh buffet still haunts my taste buds. Frankly, I would also be happier with a regular crispy pata. The way Cebu lechon is served, you usually just have a dipping sauce made out of your own bend of soy sauce, vinegar, kalamansi and fresh chilies. In that case, I really would much prefer a crispy pata.

I know I’m going to get a lot of protests from Cebuanos. Okay, the herbs and spices added to the Cebu lechon does add flavor. But for me, it’s not enough to make it leaps and bounds better than a good porchetta or many other pork dishes.

Frankly, I also prefer lechon with a rich, brown liver sauce. It just does not feel like lechon without it. Nevertheless, like I said, this is not a bad lechon at all. Let’s get to the good points:

Medium serving of classic lechon Php590.00

First of all, they portion out the meat according to the size of your order and then top it with strips of crispy skin. I like this strategy because it ensures that each serving gets an ample skin to meat ratio. In other places, the amount of skin really just depends on which part of the pig you end up with.

This also ensures that the skin that you get is always crispy. It appears to me as though they separate the skin from the meat soon after roasting. This way, the meat’s juices does not soak into the meat to make it soggy. (Hello CNT Lechon, I’m looking at you!!!!)

The dish isn’t greasy, but you do have the option to choose the boneless belly if you’re into that. Great strategy!

Now, what I really like about this restaurant is the fact that they also serve a variety of other classic Filipino dishes. While the lechon is the star, this is also a really good place to get your fill of your favorite native dishes.

Baked scallops Php230.00, Ensaladang talong Php130.00 and Kamias shake Php100.00

I really loved the baked scallops here. The actual scallops were not huge but they were a decent size. The plum and juicy scallops were encrusted in bubbling cheese and garlic. They didn’t scrimp on the ingredients here and I really could have finished the whole plate by myself.

The ensaladang talong wasn’t extraordinary but it was a great side dish to cut through the richness of the lechon and the cheesy scallops.

Since there were only three of us, we decided to leave room for dessert instead of ordering more dishes. I’m glad we did because the dessert sampler was full of local sweet treats.

Dessert platter Php230.00

The Biko (sticky rice cake) was a big hit with my friends. I liked their leche flan and was also pleased to see some beautifully ripe mangoes on the platter. I’m a huge believer that Philippine mangoes are the best in the world! Even if out roast pig isn’t, hehe.

Overall, Zubuchon is a good place to take family and friends for a good Filipino meal. It was a good choice for my lunch with a balikbayan friend and I would not mind coming back to try out the rest of their dishes.

Star rating: 4/5

Location: Talisay Street, San Antonio, Makati City

See their full menu and a list of their Cebu locations on Zomato:
Zubuchon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato