By Sol Vanzi
Images by Roc Verdera
F or as long as anyone can remember, La Loma and Baclaran were the only go-to places for lechon in Metro Manila. To be fully appreciated, the lechon sold in those places needed to be served with a thick liver-based sweet sauce known as pebre. A lechon-maker named Mang Tomas even bottled the sauce and slapped his name on it.
The bottled sauce became useless for those of us lucky enough to have friends and relatives from Cebu and were gifted with the whole lechon, still warm and dripping with juices, flown in by air freight. Slowly, Manileños have realized the big world of difference between bland Tagalog lechon and well-seasoned Cebu lechon, which really needs no gravy to be fully appreciated.
Inevitably, entrepreneurs saw the business potential of opening branches of Cebu lechon restaurants in Metro Manila, and were soon roasting whole pigs in full view of diners in the metropolis.
For Carcar native Robert Dexter Ding, that was not enough. He missed the whole Cebu eating experience of having freshly roasted lechon anytime and not just during celebrations. Transplanted to Manila because of his work in video production, he developed a Cebu-type marinade and roasted small slabs of boneless pork belly so each order remains intact, hot and moist, unlike cold greasy slabs sliced from whole lechon.
He also missed the warm informality of sitting around a table with total strangers from all walks of life, eating simple Cebuano rice meals at very affordable prices.
Dexter launched Bai’s Boneless Lechon Cebu as a simple, friendly neighborhood food store and eatery where everything, including lechon, is cooked to order. The prices are unbelievable.
Siomai Meal, Danggit Silog, and Shanghai Meal; and Pungko Pungko Set Two
Cebuano breakfast of rice meals served with fried egg feature classic Cebu breakfast items like Danggit Silog (₱49), Squid Silog (₱49), and Bacon Silog (₱49). Lunch meals are made of Java rice and soup paired with classic viands. There’s the Siomai Meal (₱49), Shanghai Meal (₱59) and Humba Meal (₱79).
The day we visited the new Pasig branch, neighbors from nearby stores came in to try items on the menu and to welcome Dexter to the community. It was like a scene from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Lechon and Pungko
The star of Dexter’s enterprise, Cebu-style boneless lechon, is available at many locations throughout Metro Manila. We ordered lechon for lunch and enjoyed the well-seasoned roasted lean meat with crispy skin straight out of the electric rotisserie. All it needed was a dip in native spiced tuba vinegar, the Cebuano way.
Offered in regular and spicy flavors, it can be ordered for takeout or delivery in packs, which are great for sharing. The Family (₱820) is good for four to five people, the Barkada (₱1,950) is good for 10 to 15 people, and the Party (₱3,200) is good for 20 to 25 people.
Pungko Pungko Set Two
For additional party finger food, Bai’s Pungko Pungko Set brings together more Cebuano favorites like chicharon bulaklak, hamonado, ngiohong, fried chicken, and lumpia. It can also be ordered for takeout or delivery in small, medium, and large sizes.
For orders and deliveries, Bai’s Boneless Lechon has stores throughout the National Capital Region and some adjoining cities and provinces. | (+639) 17 582 5333 | email@example.com | baisbonelesslechon. com | Facebook: @baislechoncebu