Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 20): A Taste of Cebu's Yummy Lechon Belly

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

A visit to Cebu will not be complete without tasting the world-famous lechon. So, during the first night of my 2016 Cebu trip, we went to SM City Cebu to finally taste Cebu’s original lechon belly.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly in SM City Cebu, Cebu City

Cebu’s lechon or roasted pig is loved for its crunchy skin and tasty meat. My co-worker claimed that Cebu’s lechon is much better than Luzon’s lechon, which she said is bland on the inside.

History of Cebu’s Lechon (Lechon History)

The word lechon implies that the lechon dish is of Spanish origin. In fact, lechon is widespread in former colonies of Spain like the Puerto Rico and Cuba. Lechon de leche, which literally means milk sucker, refers to the suckling pig that is roasted to yummy crispy perfection.

I read two blogs that claim that the lechon predates the coming of the Spanish colonists in the Philippines. They claimed that Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan’s chronicler, wrote that the Cebuanos offered the Spaniards pig, grilled fish, millet, rice cakes, and coconut. I read Pigafetta’s chronicle and I didn’t find any mention of roasted pig that fits the description of lechon. In short, there is a possibility that lechon didn’t predate the coming of Spaniards.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly - 17

An article in GMA News Online said that the first lechoneros in Cebu came from Talisay City where they invented the now famous roasted pig and initially called it as inasal. Inasal is a Bisaya word that means cooked over hot coals. Nowadays, inasal is associated with roasted chicken while the roasted pig became lechon.

Lechon is a common dish throughout the Philippines and Manila and Luzon have its own versions of it. What set Cebu lechon apart is the fact that it is so yummy that it doesn’t require any sauce. The Cebu lechon captured the taste buds of the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, so much so, that he claimed that lechon is the “best pig ever”.

Yummy lechon belly from Cebu's Original Lechon Belly
The yummy lechon belly o Cebu.

The idea of lechon belly was formed in the 1930s by a lechonero family in Balamban, Cebu. The yummy lechon belly was created because the lechoneros noticed that the belly of the lechon baboy was the first to be eaten by their customers. The lechon belly concept spread from Balamban and became the favorite lechon dish, particularly in Cebu's Original Lechon Belly restaurant.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

There were few customers when we dined at the place. However, our food took a while to arrive. Looking at their staff preparing the lechon made my stomach grumble.

Preparing lechon belly in Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

Our lechon belly arrived with puso or steamed rice wrapped in nipa leaves. Puso is common in the Visayas region and in Bisaya-dominated areas in Mindanao. I first tasted puso in Davao. I also tasted it during my first visit to Mactan Island.

Yummy lechon belly and puso from Cebu's Original Lechon Belly
Lechon belly and puso.

We also ordered pancit and other dishes but the star of the night is the lechon belly. We truly enjoyed its crispy skin and yummy meat. Too bad that we didn’t order plenty of lechon belly because my older co-workers are afraid of alta presyon.


Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 19): Temple of Leah - The House of Vanity
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 18): A Better Stay in Bayfront Hotel in Cebu
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 17): A Great View of Cebu City from Tops Busay
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 16): A Taste of Mandarin in Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 15): Taboan the Pasalubong Center of Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 14): My Accidental Visit to Mt. Carmel Church


History of the lechon and other information in this post was obtained from the following sources:

Lechon is 'best pork ever'- TIME magazine in ABS-CBN News
The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta's Account of Magellan's Voyage in WikiSource
A brief history of the yummy Cebu lechon in GMA News


Leave a comment with Facebook or regular comment box below.


  1. I sure would love to try that Lechon! I do enjoy your Filipino crispy pata. Your puso looks like our ketupat.

    1. I am glad that you enjoy our crispy pata. I like that food too but it has plenty of cholesterol. :-P

    2. You're right. Ketupat and puso are the same.


Comments are very much welcome. However, I reserve the right to delete comments that contains spam.

Also drop by my other blog: Ahab Reviews and Tips - my tips and reviews blog.