Throughout the six months that I stayed in Cebu, I realized that the Cebuanos are damn serious and proud of their lechon. Asked where the best lechon was, they would answer with no hesitation or a minute too soon: "Talisay, Cebu." A friend even told me that lechon used to be the specialty of Talisay until it garnered the attention of Cebuanos into adapting this local delicacy as theirs. With bestsellers the likes of CnT, Rico's, Ayer, and Zubuchon, the choice for trying this fatty treat has become a hunt. There are even some that swear by these names as the best lechon in Cebu. Even world renowned chef Gordon Ramsay has dubbed Zubuchon as the world's best, who can top that?
For as long as I can remember, I have loathed the idea of lechon. I hated the way it left an oily residue on my lips that reminded me of my dislike for lipgloss. Thus, I never understood why people always made a fuss about its presence during an event and why it just had to have a grand entrance or be the center of attraction on a buffet table. I hated the idea that it could block your arteries to the point that the mere mention of eating lechon would make me cringe in dismay. Yes, I hated it with a capital H.
So when my friend Sekki came to work one day raving about the delicious spicy lechon she had for dinner, I was all ears. I wanted to hear where this was from so I could recommend it to my friends. Surprisingly, she got it from a place I have always wanted to visit-- a night market situated just outside our office in IT Park. A night before flying home to Bacolod for a cousin's wedding, I decided to give the market a visit with my friends Sekki, Guile, and Daniel.
With just a few stalls, the night market reminded me of my one too many visits at Distrito Market in Makati City. Even with just a few stalls, a majority of them sold the same thing: boneless lechon belly. There were a few stalls selling grilled fish, soup, and other meat viands as well but during that visit, we were on a mission.
Our experienced host, Sekki, made no effort to check out the other stalls; her eyes affixed on our destination. Meanwhile, my eyes averted from left to right, trying to make a mental note of the other delicacies available in the market. When she finally stopped, I glanced at what was in front of us-- behind a clear screen, laid a roll of roasted suckling pork, cradled in its own crispy flesh. Sekki told the woman behind the counter of 7 Boneless Inasal to give her a spicy lechon meal, a P60 meal that consisted of a serving of around 100 grams of chopped spicy lechon, 5 puso, and a choice between a bottle of Coke or mineral water. I copied her order.
Carrying our meal on a bed of banana leaf and native plate, we made our way to the dining area. As expected, you don't have to worry about utensils when eating lechon. You simply insert your fingers into the provided plastic glove so you don't have to worry about the oil dripping down your arm. Preparing for the meal, we silently opened the puso from its crisscrossed pandan leaves wrap, ready for our attack. When Guile came back to our table with his order, we were finally game.
Spicy Lechon Meal (P60)
Devouring into each slice, savoring every bit of that explosive fat-- its juices and oil mildly disorienting; gravely satisfying. Every single bite came with a yearning for more. It soon became a medley-- pork belly then puso; more of that pork belly.
And then it was gone. What followed next was a tremendous feeling of remorse. Yet I wanted more and craved for more for the next two days, until I finally decided to succumb to the urge. Ugh. For someone who dislikes lechon, I may have just found my match.
Game. Set. Score.
The Night Market at IT Park is located just outside of TGU Tower, along Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City. They open at 3pm and close at 12am.