March 13, 2017
ZUBUCHON is the Cebu-based Lechon Restaurant by Joel Binamira of Market Manila specializing in what Anthony Bourdain described as the "Best Pig... Ever!" The name is a coined word from "Zubu", the 18th century reference to the island of Cebu, and "Chon" from lechon, which means roasted pig.
The restaurant concept is inspired by native dishes dating back to the time when Magellan Landed in Cebu in 1521. Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's Chronicler, mentioned the Filipino food during that time, which includes black pig, grilled seafood, millet and rice cakes, coconut in the form of water, milk, vinegar, and liquor.
Now, Metro Manila-based foodies can now taste the food Market Manila has been blogging about over the years. The place has actually been jam packed since it opened in Makati!
Had two lunch dates with Rache here and also got to chat with Joel about his new restaurant. Here's what we think...
Zubuchon Makati is located along the now famous Talisay St. in a former garage area converted into a 120-seater casual dining restaurant.
There's a lot of parking outside the restaurant and along the short stretch of Talisay, which is bounded by Yakal and Malugay at the back of Makati Fire Station.
The waiting time is manageable. We arrived around 12 noon and were 9th in line and waited for 30 minutes to be seated.
The Makati restaurant is where they roast the lechon and the pigs are ready to be served by lunch time.
You can order some to go if you can't wait: Zubuchon Lechon and Fast Meals Take Out
Try the Zubuchon chicharon while you wait--the glass container is usually hidden behind the flowers.
It's best to reserve for a table (up to a maximum of 30 people) so that you don't have to wait.
Iba/Kamias Shake (P100). A tart fruit related to balimbing or starfruit, it is the perfect complement to roast pork.
You'll love their signature drink, which is both refreshing and a good pair to the lechon.
(Note: It's a bit too sweet but you can request to tone down on the sugar)
Zubuchon Menu: Tasty Appetizers | Hearty Soups | Fresh Soup | Healthy Salads and Vegetables | Zubuchon | Savory Meats | Filling Rice and Noodles | Affordable Fast Meals | Desserts and Merienda | Fresh Fruit Shakes | Refreshing Beverages
I love how the restaurant celebrates Filipino dishes, paying homage to traditions and priding themselves and using absolutely NO MSG.
(Trivia: They use lechon broth from lechon trimmings cooked for 5-6 hours to give umami to their dishes)
This al fresco garden setup will turn into a tapas-craft beer area for those who want to wait out the traffic after office hours or just hang out before dinner.
Baked Scallops (P230). Garlic butter and cheese topped scallops.
The baked scallops are an absolute favorite. Baby scallops in rich cheese that you can eat it straight off the shell in one bite.
(Note: They usually wait for all the dishes to be prepared before they serve, so make sure to instruct them to serve the baby scallops first if you want to.)
Ensaladang Talong (P130). Grilled Eggplant and tomato salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
So simple yet so good! For a lechon restaurant, they serve great gulay dishes even vegetarians would love.
Zubuchon Dinuguan (P280). Our version of a traditional blood stew, but made with all lechon meat rather than innards with coconut cream.
My personal favorite. The dinuguan is made with fresh blood and lechon meat, resulting in that good soup consistency with tasty strands of lechon meat.
(Trivia: This is made in Cebu where they make sure to use freshly extracted pig's blood when they cook this dish.)
Slow-Cooked Adobo (P290). The equivalent of pork confit with just coconut, vinegar, salt, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves is the classic local pork dish that has evolved over the centuries.
Adobo without the sauce, but as if the big chunks of meat absorbed all the flavors. You can ask the servers to chop the meat so that it's enough to share.
Sizzling Squid Stuffed with Sisig (P320). Squid stuffed with lechon sisig and served on a sizzling plate.
The squid was good but the sisig inside wasn't crunchy anymore. It was also a bit mushy in consistency.
The lechon is roasted for 3 hours. Typically, a 35-kilo lechon would be reduced to 24 kilos in weight after roasting.
Zubuchon takes pride in using fresh coconut water to baste the skin. The bellies are stuffed with fresh and dried spices with natural sea salt, and the pig's skin is hand-pricked to make it crisp and last longer.
Whole Lechon. Small (P7,900) Good for 25-30 persons, Medium (P8,900) good for 35-40 persons.
For reservation, please contact +632 800-5706
Please book your reservation 2 days prior to the date of pick-up.
Note: They also serve Lechon de Leche for friends and special guests with prior reservation
(Tip: You can ask to see where they roast the lechon and have a picture with Joel when he is in the restaurant)
Zubuchon (Small - P290)
Zubuchon's meat is quite tasty already. The spicy version is coated with labuyo chili oil and garnished with chili flakes.
You can eat it with a concoction of ginger, soy sauce, calamansi, tomato, and onions. No need for lechon sauce to enjoy it.
We ate here on a Lenten Friday so we got to enjoy a seafood feast.
Seafood Kare-Kare (P440). Seafood and vegetable stew with peanut and toasted rice sauce served with shrimp paste.
The kare-kare was served with scallops, fried fish that looked like lechon, and lots of vegetables. The salty bagoong complemented all the flavors.
Fish Skin Tacos (P360). Kinilaw na tangigue or tuna served with deep-fried fish skins.
We loved the crunchy fish skin but the finely-chopped kinilaw serving was overpowered by the ginger bits. It's also a bit expensive. I wish we could just order the fish skin.
Ensaladang Kamatis, Itlog na Maalat at Tinapang Bangus (P200). Tomato, salted egg, and smoked fish salad.
This ensalada is topped with generous servings of boneless tinapang bangus and big chunks of salted eg--already a meal in itself. :)
Crab Relleno (P190). Crab shell stuffed with crab meat and spices, battered then deep-fried.
I like how you can really taste the crab meat without the lansa.
Zubuchon Dessert Sampler Platter (P230). Serves 3-4. A platter of leche flan, biko, budbud kabog, and ripe mango.
Biko (P60). Sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and dark brown sugar.
Leche Flan (60). Creme caramel or custard made with locally sourced fresh milk.
Budbud Kabog (P50). Millet seeds stewed in banana leaves, coconut milk, and sugar.
All the desserts are awesome but bound to be bitin if you share the sampler plate with more than 2 people.
We love Zubuchon! This is the Best Lechon Restaurant to open Manila this 2017!
I like how they are committed to a No MSG philosophy, support Backyard-raised pigs, and serve dishes that are deliciously affordable at less than P300/dish. I also like how Joel created this as a social entreprise to provide employment, where the employees are stockholders, and making a lot of money isn't a priority.
Make sure to order the Baked Scallops, Dinuguan, Ensaladang Talong or Kamatis, Spicy Zubuchon, Kamias Shake, and the Dessert Sampler of Biko, Budbud Kabog, and Mango. Budget about P500/head.
Best to eat here as a group so that you can taste as many dishes as possible. Vegetarians and Seafood lovers are also guaranteed to enjoy this lechon restaurant.
Congratulations to Joel and the whole Zubuchon team for successfully bringing Zubuchon to Manila!
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. Will we see a battle of lechon restaurants in Manila? Hope Rico's and Pepita's Kitchen open their own Lechon Restaurants soon!
P.P.S. There's a small pasalubong corner where you can buy food items to take out for your loved ones or to bring to co-workers at the office.
100g Chicharon (P120)
200g Chicharon (P200)
Giant Chicharon small (P280)
Giant Chicharon medium (P320).
Dried Fish Skin (P105)
Dried Mango Balls (P50)
Guava Jam (P200)
Kalamansi Marmalade (P200)
Shamrock Otap (P70)
Titay's Rosquillos (P75)
Fried Peanuts (P75)