Every time I am in Cebu, I visit chef Raki Orbina’s restaurants Café Laguna, Parilla and Lemon Grass. I also visit Tymad Bistro of chef Philippe Estienne where the food takes me back to my Paris days on the Left Bank. His kouign-amann (Breton cake) is to die for.
Another must-visit is Rico’s Lechon owned by Enrico Dionson. I love the lechon so much I was glad to learn it was now available at Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
For one of our “Foodprints” shows, we were given a freshly cooked lechon straight from their pit. I usually try to eat healthy and will only eat a tiny piece of skin and ribs but this was the first time I had eaten so much lechon in my entire life. Rico’s lechon is not cholesterol-free, but it is free cholesterol.
Dionson comes from humble beginnings. This shy gentleman started as a “Cristo” in the cockfighting arenas of Cebu.
His first attempt in cooking lechon was a disaster. His first customer told him, “Tubig na lang idagdag mo dito, dagat na.” It was that salty. He tried again and eventually came up with the winning recipe.
Rico’s is a Cebu attraction. To me, it is part of Cebu’s tourism.
I hear he is having problems with the local government about permits. I hope and pray this can be settled soon. This problem may endanger Cebu tourism.
A couple of months ago, the first Rico’s Lechon opened in BGC. A second branch is set to open at Glorietta. The response has been phenomenal. I love his kinilaw, and the spicy lechon version.
The guy in the counter has his arms jacked up from the unending chopping of lechon. The freshly cooked lechon is grilled behind the restaurant, chopped and brought to your table. It’s that freshly made.
I am so happy for Rico. His story will inspire and encourage many people. He is still the same simple and humble man I met a few decades ago except for the jewelry that says, “Success!”
My next Japan food tours will be on Oct. 14-19. It will cover Fukuoka-Hiroshima and Osaka. Hokkaido follows on Nov. 16-21. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.