When I was seven, my father revealed to me that rotisserie chicken had a best friend—it is the grilled slab of pork we call liempo. Incredulous that anything would be more delicious than chicken, I bit into my first slice and I knew that the three pieces he gave me would never be enough. If I have daddy issues, this is where it stems from. Suffice it to say that as a lover of all food pork and porcine, I spend a lot of time thinking about it and have listed my favorite spots to date.
If it’s not already obvious what their specialties are, their cartoon-y sign makes it painfully clear. Their chicken might be good, but their baboy is the star. Cheap and consistently good, their liempo meals come with the standard rice-all-you-can, side of vegetables and soup. I feel that this entry would be incomplete if I didn’t mention their garlic-chicken oil— drizzle on rice and proceed with caution.
I regularly ask strangers if they’ve been to Andok’s as a joke and then become horrified when they actually say they’ve never been. An incomplete childhood is one without the memory of your first Andok’s. Their liempo is the stuff that made me the habitué that I am today. What can I say? I’m a nostalgic sap who comes back for the classics.
I know, I know. Lechon is not liempo. But come on, aren’t we all just looking for the perfect pig to be there for us in times of sadness, like holy week or ill-fated dieting phases? Cebu’s Lechon Belly keeps things simple by having zero bones but they’re also ~whimsical~ in that they have two flavors, original-regular and spicy. Buy the original-regular for your parents, buy the spicy for your lovers.
I wasn’t always big on sharing my food but people change, now I’m obsessed by family combos and barkada meals. Mostly because I think the regular serving sizes are jokes but sure, also because sharing is a virtue I guess, blah blah blah. Balamban has both Barkada Meals for dine-in costumers and Liempo sa Bilao for straight up G’s. The G stands for gout, which you will get if you eat the whole thing alone.
A relatively new favorite, BBQ Zone is located at Malingap’s Z Compound. I didn’t realize that I preferred succulent to salty when it comes to liempo until eating here. Their cuts are small but plenty, sweet and just-right. A friend who shall not be named once ordered their liempo meal and topped it with bagnet from another excellent pork resource in the area. I’m not saying you should do that too, I’m just saying it can be done.
I like a place with a name I can laugh about for ten minutes while waiting for my meal. Liloan’s Pride evokes confidence in what they’re doing—we’re good at this, we know it and now you’ll know it, too. The pork belly is herbed and spiced through and through. They’re not kidding when they advertise it as melt in your mouth. Liloan straight reppin’ indeed.
The first time I came to Sabroso, it was already closed for business even though it was only 3 PM. The lechon was so good, they had nothing left to serve. The lesson: come early. Their twitter is flavored with inspirational quotes such as “Sometimes..it’s not what we do to the food that makes it better, food at their best just need some salt and much love..Perfectly as it is..”
Whoever tweeted this is a genius or high on their own supply. To whom I say, bravo and are you open to internships paid in pork?
Long considered to be in rivalry with a similar institution that rhymes with Shmandok’s, Baliwag is sometimes referred to as “the other roast chicken place.” I don’t care, I come for the pork anyway. I love their liempo specifically because I know what I’m getting when I buy it. The meat is tender and when coated in the liver sauce, I can truly believe that Baliwag is no sidekick to any other grilling place. It is, dare I say it, the Gretchen Wieners of liempo—it can’t help if liempo are jealous of it but it can’t help that it’s so popular.
Do you have other pork places to suggest? Share them in the comments section below!