Zubuchon as we all know practices acupuncture for roasting pig. They got their name basically from “Zubu” was the term for the island of Cebu in really old Spanish and Portuguese maps of the Philippine archipelago and they combined that with the Cebu’s known food for roasted pig which is termed as “Lechon”. Zubuchon was inspired with the concept of traditional cooking for roasted pig that would use organic and genuine ingredients to bring out the flavor of the pork. The company started to grow after the TV host Anthony Bourdain mentioned that they have the best roasted pig in the world.
If we base it upon great marketing strategy, yes, I would say that Zubuchon did it perfectly. A lot of people were convinced that since he was a popular TV host and a known chef from New York, who mentioned that it’s the best pig in the world, a lot of people now are looking for this lechon. As human as I am and as a resident from Cebu, I was caught in a desperate move to try this lechon and immediately gathered information to where we could get this Zubuchon lechon.
We got an information that we can find their restaurant in these locations:
1. Banilad Town Center
2. One Mango on Gen. Maxilom Avenue
3. Along Escario Street
Many informed us that their main branch is at Banilad Town Center and was also mentioned that they also offer different types of Cebuano dishes and is also a must-try. That actually increased my curiosity on the types of dishes that they would offer knowing they specialize in roasted pig, then I believe they should have something that would compliment with lechon. It was stressed though in various sources that their lechon is expensive due to the art on the way the lechon is cooked & gourmet ingredients used along the process so, we have to patiently wait for pay day!
Pay day came & nothing’s on our mind but Zubuchon! I got my colleagues attention to join our food trip and we’ll guess what they have to say for the new era of Cebu’s lechon. We were surprised though knowing that when we got to Banilad Town Center their business already closed on that location so we have to find the nearest branch. We found the branch along Escario Street, which is not far from Cebu Capitol but gosh, their branch in Escario Street is so small & uneasy for a dining place. We have to consider though that this branch might just have sprouted & may still have room for improvements. What can we do?! We don’t have a choice because it’s raining so hard and it’s difficult to travel to another place!
To start with, ambiance in Zubuchon (Escario Branch) is not impressive. If only I was given a choice, I would not stay in that place. Picture this out, we have to wait for about 20minutes before all of us can be accommodated & have our own seats. Service was not impressive as well. Sorry to be blunt but there is a lot of improvement to do.
We talked to their employee & asked what makes Zubuchon lechon special from all other Cebu lechon? He had a lot to say & I’m impressed. He started explaining that the pigs were raised locally in Cebu farm wherein it was fed with organic food but eventually pigs would still be fed with feeds occasionally. It would be slowly roasted, rubbed with olive oil and various herbs & spices. While cooking they would prick the skin so excessive fat would be released from the lechon. So, it would not be right to say that it’s the “acupunctured lechon” but the “pricked lechon”. Acupuncture is basically an alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of needles in the body. They are only practicing pricking the moment that the lechon is slowly roasted to remove excess fat. Well, that explains the unusual texture of the skin because the moment oil comes out from the skin, it would cook the outer skin & make the texture uneven.
Here’s the Zubuchon Lechon that we’ve all been talking about:
Very tempting indeed! We immediately took our first bite and shall I say the lechon skin was so crunchy & full of flavor. It has this crispiness that is out of the ordinary and enjoyed every single bite of the lechon skin. Lechon has always been Cebu’s pride.
I took bite of its meat & I have to be honest, I am so disappointed! Guess what’s missing? FLAVOR! I expected too much and I did not see this coming. They have used gourmet ingredients to make this lechon extraordinary but in my own point of view it’s absolutely not impressive. Everybody in Cebu can make lechon’s skin crispy & flavorful but not all can make a tasty meat. Zubuchon just did not make it to this part. Sorry to break it up to you guys but I would have to disagree with Anthony Bourdain. I may not be popular like he is but I’m a Cebuano and I know what a perfect lechon taste like. I wanna challenge Zubuchon though, if they are using gourmet ingredients, they should learn ways to let the flavors sip into the meat without making it dry. Pricking the lechon only extracted the flavors out of the meat and removed its natural juice.
Great marketing strategy may have lead Zubuchon’s way to limelight but at this point, I would have to say, “It’s not worth the price”.