A more recent realization though: I am proud that "the best pig in the world" is by Cebuanos and of course, can be found in the Philippines.
That's literally what I heard when Anthony Bourdain, veteran chef and a famed host of No Reservations, took a bite of a gleaming rustic brown pig skin from Cebu that was featured in his show. That sound literally haunted me. For someone born and raised in a city where lechons (roasted pigs) are always from La Loma and are always served with sarsa, that sound is simply surreal.
A month later, I found myself on Cebuano soil (first time!). I knew I had to taste lechon the way Cebuanos make them. What better way to do that than have a "Taste of Cebuano" care of CnT Lechon.
When the Surreal Became For Real...
That may also be how Norman Quijada feels about his now world famous CnT Lechon business. Sometime in the 1980's he roasted pigs and sold them from his own home. Two decades, six years, and six outlets after, the name CnT Lechon became household name for Cebuanos and visitors alike. Heck, his stores have become tourist destinations already! When I went to Cebu, I made sure that I'll be staying in a place where there's CnT. Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Therefore, I booked a place in the Guadalupe area, where CnT Lechon was born. A ten minute jeepney ride is all it took for me to reach the humble looking nipa hut resto along V. Rama Avenue.
There's enough space for parking. That one I noticed first. Next thing noticeable is this black net curtain shielding the entire restaurant from the pesky flies. I can imagine how tortured they are -- smelling the insanely good whiff of lechon aroma and not being able to enter. Oh well, good thing I'm not a fly because upon entering, things are definitely much better.
Upon entering, one will find it impulsive to stand and watch in awe the lechon being chopped in the front counter. Under the bright yellow light, flakes and pieces of oily meat chunk off as the butcher knife sever the glistening slab of meat. Thomp! Thomp! Thomp! Now that's one mouthwatering wreck.
As of the time I was there, which is less than a month ago, the price of Lechon Baboy is P320 per kilo. Lechon Head (boneless) follows at P240 per kilo and Lechon Feet at P170 per kilo.
Prices for an entire pig however starts at P2,600 to P3,500.
In no time, a platter with a kilo of lechon found its way in our table. In no time also, it found our mouths.
There's no better way to devour CnT lechon other than starting off start with the skin. It is a MUST to take a piece of that shell-like layer first.
Indeed the best pig I've tasted.
Expect the same crunchy sound and resistance of a chicharon once you take a piece of it's skin. Well, that was how I satisfactorily found mine. It was early in the morning and I was in the branch nearest to the roasting place so that may have been a factor to the extra crispiness my slab had.
The meat part is undeniably better, too. The La Loma version shrinks in comparison to how flavorsome CnT's is. The lack of the need to pour sarsa speaks much of how tasty Cebuano Lechons are. Certainly savory on its own, a drizzling or two of suka is enough to make everything just perfect.
There we were in front of an empty greasy platter. Our curiosity was satisfied. Our lips were surely oily. Our bellies were filled to their limit, and if I may add, someone started feeling woozy. Dieticians would sure cringe at our sight. Physical trainers may faint. But hell, we were in CnT and we didn't really care that time. We've had our taste of Cebu and probably, the taste of the best pig ever. Who cares about diet?
CnT Branch Just Outside SM Cebu
This and a lot more are found only in the Philippines. Don't you just love being a Filipino? Happy Independence day!
CnT Lechon can be found at 1377 Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu City. You may call 6332) 254-4249, (6332) 254-6641 for inquiries and reservations.