How to Cook Lechon Kawali

How to Cook Lechon Kawali

A favorite dish of many Filipinos is lechon. It is one of the national dishes of the Philippines. It is usually cooked with the whole pork on a spit over flaming charcoal but there is another variety of it that is just as delectable and popular. Lechon kawali is a lechon dish that is fried rather than grilled. Like the traditional lechon, it takes time to cook it perfectly but there are also methods to do it faster. Oftentimes it is cooked in bulk in restaurants or home-cooked for family gatherings. Preparing it in bulk is a good way to save time, as there is a two-step process in cooking lechon kawali.

In order to make a good lechon kawali; the key ingredient, which is the pork belly, can be cut into small pieces, or just thin enough (about 1 ½  inch and not more) so that it is crispier when fried. It is also good to note that it is better to have a slab of pork belly with skin-on meat (as some stores might sell it with the skin removed) because the skin is where the crispiness and crunch will come from. Other ingredients include garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, ground pepper (or peppercorns), water and cooking oil.

To cook a 2-3 serving of lechon kawali, approximately 1 ½ pound pork belly is needed. The first step to cook lechon kawali is to combine the condiments,(1 garlic clove, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp ground pepper) in a skillet pan, along with the pork belly and pour enough water to cover. Some even put soy sauce for added flavor but it depends on your personal taste. Others even choose not to put extra condiments and only put salt for taste. Bring this to a boil and simmer until the skin is slicing tender but not falling apart. In estimation, this should take around 35 to 45 minutes to simmer. It is important to monitor the tenderness of the meat and make sure it doesn’t get too soft so that it can still be deeply fried properly without it falling apart. 

Once the pork is tender, drain the meat and let it sit at room temperature until it has air dried. Some people that cook lechon kawali in preparation for an upcoming event or celebration, might have the extra time to chill the pork and let it air dry in the refrigerator overnight. Again, this depends on preference and the time frame you have available before cooking the dish. An important thing to note is that chilling and air drying it overnight in a refrigerator is proved to give it a crispier texture when deep fried. Even if you don’t have the time, however, it will still show good and crispy results if air dried in room temperature.

When the meat has been air dried (either in room temperature or in the cold overnight), it is ready to be deep fried. Pre-heat a large saucepan and add cooking oil for deep frying. It should be around 350 °F to 375 °F and make sure to use enough oil to cover the pork belly. It might also be useful to have a splatter guard to help with the whole process. Deep fry the pork belly into batches and look out for it until it is golden brown. This will take approximately 3-5 minutes. Once the pork belly is cooked, remove it and drain it on a wire rack to remove the excess oil. Wait around 5 minutes to cool and cut it further into pieces if needed. 

That is basically all there is to make the perfect lechon kawali. An easy recipe and mouth-watering dish fit for all ages. The perfect crunchy exterior paired with the juicy and tender meat inside.  It is best to eat it while still warm and paired with lechon sauce or a vinegar sauce, whichever suits your taste buds. Although some people choose not to deep fry the pork belly and instead, pan fry it twice to add crispiness, it is all up to preference. A lot of Filipinos eat lechon kawali as “pulutan” or a snack you eat when having a drink out with friends. Every sinful bite would be too good to resist and it is the best type of home-cooked comfort food for every occasion. It is also a dish liked by other cultures because of its simplicity but flavorful taste. The fact that it can be easily paired with a lot of other dishes is a plus as well. One can never go wrong with a well cooked fried dish. For the health conscious, it is best to make sure that the oil is drained on a rack with a baking sheet below. This is a better method than draining the oil with a paper towel because draining with a paper towel will make the dish soggier. When draining the oil on a rack, the air is allowed to flow through which air dries the lechon kawali without losing its crisp.

Lechon kawali is also served in a lot of traditional Filipino restaurants just as lechon is. It is best eaten with a warm cup of rice or other traditional Filipino dishes with soup like “Sinigang”. It is a simple fried dish that can be a good pair to a lot of other types of food, like vegetables or even noodles. Although it is not the most healthy and should be consumed in moderation like the traditional lechon, the taste is undeniably worth every bite. That said, it is also better to serve this dish when eating with other people. The rich taste would want you asking for more, and without friends or family to eat with, you might just get a tad bit more than you should be eating. We won’t judge, because it is one of our most favorite dishes to cook and serve as well. As “foodies”, a food that can be prepared fast and only requires a few ingredients and an automatic approval. 

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House of Lechon – Davao

House of Lechon – Davao

There is no shortage of lechon houses available in Davao as we can see from its ever-growing supply of lechon in the area. There are plenty of those that are well-known and have already established a name for themselves because of its history. Some are small businesses, hidden gems, that are only known by locals around the area. Some also say that Davao is (if not already) the next “lechon capital of the Philippines” because it takes lechon houses seriously. Here is a list of lechon houses in Davao to look out for.

  1. Azon’s Boneless Lechon [McArthur Highway, Matina, Davao City
    (in front of NCCC Mall Davao) ]
    One of the more notable of its kind, Azon’s boneless lechon is famous for its fragrant and delicious lechon rolls, which can also be called, Davao lechon belly. They serve their lechon rolls in original and spicy flavors. Due to the demand of their lechon, they have built more locations at Bajada and Victoria Plaza Mall.

2. Porky’s lechon [003 Kawayan Matina Rd., Matina, Davao City, Davao del Sur]
Another choice for “Dabawenyos” (people of Davao), is this smaller business that has been consistently delivering satisfying portions of lechon. It has been reviewed as “Great. Crispy skin. Moist meat. Fine seasoning. Excellent.” It is good to know that smaller establishments still make great lechon.

3. Naty’s lechon house [836 Chavez St, Poblacion District, Davao City, Davao del Sur]
The brand that started the lechon trend in Davao, Naty’s lechon house is the original and oldest lechon house in Chavez Davao city. They serve the traditional and most popular tasty and authentic Davao lechon.

4. San Roque lechon house [Sammy Uy building, J.P. Laurel Ave]
Another historic lechon house, San Roque lechon house has been serving authentic Davao lechon since 1986. Slow-roasting their lechon infused with herbs and spices, they are one of the few that can cater to large orders and deliveries.

5. Lechoneros Native Lechon[42 Quimpo Blvd, Davao City, Quimpo Blvd, Talomo District, Davao City, Davao del Sur]
 Lechoneros Native lechon is inspired by the original Cebuano lechon recipe. They add in herbs and spices like any other lechon house and they make sure their special ingredients, like spring onions and lemongrass, are really soaked into the meat and even the bones. Like lechon houses in Cebu, they encourage their customers to eat the lechon without any sauce to fully enjoy the taste. Some pair up the dish with “sukang tuba” (coconut vinegar) and atchara. 

6. Milky’s lechon [McArthur Highway Fronting Solariega Subdivision, Talomo, Davao City, 8000 Davao del Sur]
An affordable alternative but not lacking in quality, Milky’s lechon has had great reviews as well from its customers. They serve efficiently and prepare Davao lechon that is perfect for all occasions.

7. Mikki’s lechon [Paseo Grande Building, Catalunan Grande 8000 Davao City]
Famous for being visited by Davao’s Mayor, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Mikki’s lechon had made news and had been claimed to be “the best there is in the city” according to a review on their facebook page by the Mayor herself. Established in 2007, a decade into the business now, they have proven to be able to compete with the more established lechon houses that have started the industry. They also offer free delivery service which definitely boosts their competitive stand.

8. Yan’s boneless lechon[Matina Aplaya Rd, Talomo, Davao City, 8000 Davao del Sur] 
Famous for being visited by Davao’s Mayor, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Mikki’s lechon had made news and had been claimed to be “the best there is in the city” according to a review on their facebook page by the Mayor herself. Established in 2007, a decade into the business now, they have proven to be able to compete with the more established lechon houses that have started the industry. They also offer free delivery service which definitely boosts their competitive stand.

9. GNG boneless lechon [St. Peter, 8000 Davao City]
Another of the smaller businesses to look out for, GNG boneless lechon offers delivery service to satisfied customers. It is a good initiative for a smaller business to bring orders to their customers as the competition of lechon houses in Davao is very tight.

10. DJC Lechon Haus by Felmart Lechon[J.P. Laurel Ave, Poblacion District, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Philippines]
A quaint lechon house in Poblacion District, this place serves delicious lechon to neighbors. According to customers, their lechon sells out fast, therefore, it must be delicious and something to look out for.

The number of lechon houses in Davao has been growing consistently since the establishment of their pioneer brands like Naty’s Lechon. It has been difficult to say which one of them is really “the best lechon house in Davao” because of all the different types of lechon and services each of them offers. There might be smaller businesses that don’t get much recognition because of their location and there might be some that are still slowly working their way towards the top. Nevertheless, we can expect that Davao will produce a lot more delicious lechon houses that will increase the standards of our taste buds and will get us wanting more Davao lechon.

The list is helpful but not a definitive guide to lechon houses that are gaining popularity in Davao. Surely, more lechon houses will emerge and get noticed for their own take at a flavorful piece of lechon. Lechon houses that have already established themselves might grow even more and maybe get franchised in different parts of Davao. Eventually, a new list of top 10s won’t be enough to guide us to our discovery of “the best lechon house in Davao”. If you are a true lechon-lover, you will know that Davao lechon is already one of the best, despite where and which part of the city it comes from.

It is great to discover and know more about the different mix of flavors and unique tastes each lechon house is able to promote. It gives us food lovers more of an appreciation for process it takes to cook a meal rather than the brand of the food or where it came from.  

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Davao Lechon Belly

Davao Lechon Belly

A multitudinous amount of lechon houses has been sprouting around Davao and it has been a common sight to the locals and foreigners who live there. This growth in lechon houses, rather than a trend, has become more of a competition on who can make “the best lechon” in the area. If you have had your fair share of the taste of this wonderful delicacy, it is safe to say that no matter where it comes from, it is worth every mouthful. Like any other good thing that has potential, it eventually evolves into something better. Davao lechon belly houses have also flourished in the area due to popular demand.

Davao lechon belly is a new technique of cooking lechon, where the bone is removed and only the pork belly side of the pig is kept to be spiced up and roasted in a spit. It originated from Cebu, back in August 2011 by Mr Marlon Gochan. It has now been adopted by many lechon houses, including the ones in Davao and had made it their own. Davao lechon belly is widely popular among lechon lovers as it is not only an easier way to eat the dish but also includes only the best part of the dish, which is the “tiyan” or pork belly. There is no more need to “save the best for last” because every bite is the best.

Some can say that the preparation made into cooking Davao lechon belly is more tedious because besides removing the bone, it is stuffed with herbs and spices to develop its flavor whilst cooking, It is then rolled and tied together with a string to be slow-roasted over an open charcoal fire. Every district that adopts their own way of making Davao lechon belly differs from how they prepare the spices and the aroma it gives after it is cooked.
Ultimately, the outcome will still have its signature crispy roasted skin but the better part of the meat is the main appeal of the dish.

Another reason for the popularity of the Davao lechon belly is because of its price. As it is only meat, it is cheaper than buying the whole Davao lechon. The price of a normal small Davao lecon belly from a good lechon house is PHP 1500 (approx. USD 30) for around 4kg while the price of a small Davao lechon is double its price at PHP 3000 (approx. USD 60) which is around 15kg (with bones). As there are also different sizes of the Davao lechon belly, the price increases as the weight increases, same with the Davao lechon. It is a more practical choice as well for families with smaller celebrations like birthdays, graduations and even for small “salu-salos” (or gathering) between friends or co-workers.

A distinctive difference with the Davao lechon belly compared to those in other parts of the Philippines is its authentic sauce. Manila usually uses ready-made sauces when serving lechon and Cebu prides their lechon dishes that do not need to be served with sauce.  In general, Filipinos like sauces and it is a treat when a dish comes with one that perfectly compliments it. An authentic sauce for Davao lechon belly includes one with herbs and some main ingredients like vinegar, liver paste, breadcrumbs and other condiments to taste. Although a lot of Davao lechon houses have their own unique tastes, it is an integral part for them when serving Davao lechon belly.

Some of the most well known Davao lechon belly restaurants are “Azon’s boneless lechon” and “Beloy’s boneless lechon belly” which have arrived in Davao shortly after the lechon belly’s growth in Cebu. This was around 2012, unfortunately, “Beloy’s boneless lechon belly” has closed but “Azon’s boneless lechon” continues to thrive. To pork-lovers who wish to visit Davao lechon belly restaurants, quite a few of them are located in strategic locations near or inside NCCC malls.  There is also no longer a need to buy a whole Davao lechon belly as these restaurants offer rice meals with a serving of their Davao lechon belly. It is perfect for those that are craving for the dish but does not want to eat or spend too much.

Although it is evident that the Davao lechon belly taste is very flavourful, a lot of health enthusiast discourage the excessive consumption of it due to its fat levels. Like a lot of comfort food, there is nothing wrong with its consumption but it is a delicacy that needs to be consumed in moderation. There are a lot of similar dishes around the world that can contest and have their health value debated as well, but it is always up to the consumer to make the decision. All we know is that food is an ever-present part of our lives and discovering dishes like Davao lechon belly not only opens our eyes to different cultures and traditions but when we come across it, we can take part in that tradition and share it to the world. A lot of initiative from lechon houses that serve the dish also make it a point to serve their Davao lechon belly with rice and vegetables. This allows a balanced portion for every meal served.

Like the Davao lechon, the Davao lechon belly has also made its rounds internationally. It is easier to produce as it is boneless but the challenge is preserving its authentic taste when it is made in a different country. Ingredients needed to spice the lechon belly may be a bit of a struggle to find in other countries and the pork might also be more expensive but there are still a lot of Filipino-owned lechon houses around the world serving Davao lechon belly. By now, it is safe to assume that there are already a lot of unique tastes and mixture of dishes paired with Davao lechon belly. It is natural to experiment with a food with potential and make it better but at the end of the day, when we want and crave that authentic Davao lechon belly dish, we know where to go.

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Davao Lechon

Davao Lechon

Among the most popular food in the Philippines is a crispy spit-roasted suckling pig called “Lechon”. Coming from the Philippine’s Spanish roots, the dish has been a staple for special occasions, “fiestas”(or festivals) and gatherings. Being wildly popular and indubitably delicious, it is a guilty pleasure to a lot of locals and foreigners that have had a taste of it. The crispy texture of the skin paired with a tender, juicy and savoury meat filling will make your knees weak, and your tummy growling for more. It is unavoidable that a lot of lechon houses has been constantly sprouting around the country and one that is ever prominent is “Davao lechon”.

Davao is a city in Mindanao, one of the three island groups in the Philippines. It is the third largest city in the country, therefore, it is not surprising it has held one or even a few more of the oldest lechon houses in the Philippines. Despite having a few areas of Muslim majority, lechon houses in Davao are still prominent for its historical relevance. Davao Lechon has been a staple for Davaoeños (Davao locals) since the 1960s and still very much a sought-after dish by a lot of people. The dish has become a household viand and no longer limited to being served only on special occasions. The emergence of lechon houses in Davao has shown that it is true to not withhold the joys of life, in this case, the joy of eating lechon, when it can be readily available.

Although a lot of cities have come to make their own version of the dish like Lydia’s lechon in Metro Manila and the more known, Rico’s lechon in Cebu, there are undoubtedly a greater number of places in the Philippines where we can get great quality and delicious lechon. Davao Lechon is well known as it is one of the oldest places in the Philippines to serve the dish. One historic area is known to Davaoeños as the “lechon capital in Davao” and it is near Chavez street. They have been serving lechon in the location since the 1960s. This is around the time the Spanish colonization has ceased in the Philippines but a portion of their culture has been acquired and retained.

The popularity of the dish continued to grow and as such, it was reinvented into different types. As with other cities, Davao lechon comes in different sizes – like lechon de leche (baby roasted pork), and types – like spicy lechon for those that want a better kick with their food. It is also enjoyed in many different ways. Some dip it with sauces like gravy ( a famous bottled brand paired with it in the Philippines is called “Mang Tomas”) or make their own.

Davao Lechon is not only a staple food known for its crispy roasted goodness. Some people use lechon to make different types of recipes. Some pair it with soup or other traditional Filipino dishes like Sinigang and Adobo. Some mix it up even more and even convert the dish as snacks; making lechon into chips.  A famous variety now of Davao lechon is their boneless lechon rolls. Restaurants like Azon’s boneless lechons have been gaining popularity in the past few years. Although it is not a new trend as there have been quite a few lechon houses that provide this, it has been a popular choice with the pork-loving community. It is undoubtedly better to eat without the distraction of removing the bone.

The continuing growth of lechon houses in Davao and other cities in the Philippines has not been a surprising trend. Filipinos stick close to their culture and are very fond of food, mostly comfort food, and have always been a community of sharing. Davao Lechon is something of a “fan favorite” that is kept through tradition like a lot of other dishes. Being one of the bigger cities in the Philippines, Davao has a lot of events and festivities and with festivities comes food.  It is only natural that it is celebrated with food that can be shared with many such as lechon. It has been the way to keep the tradition of sharing and celebration going.

The dish has not shied away from the international eyes and even known chefs such as Anthony Bourdain (naming it “the best pig ever”) has given it notice. A lot of Filipinos around the world has set up lechon houses even in different countries such as Singapore and the US. A lot of other nationalities has also tried and reinvented the dish as well. Countries such as China has their own version of a roasted pig. Some have noticed the similarities between the two and it is great to see a different take on a certain dish. This goes to show that not only the Philippine culture has made its name, but also the food is a great discovery, whether there are similarities or not from different places.

To travelers that are interested to tour Davao, it is a must to explore the different lechon houses available in the city. Visiting fiestas such as “Kadayawan Festival”  will include a get-together celebration that would have a “family style” of eating and will surely not be lacking the famous Davao lechon. Although it is true that there are a lot of other places in the Philippines that serve a scrumptious portion of lechon, Davao lechon is unique in its own right when mixed with the cultural inclusivity and historical relevance of the dish.
 
There will always be the debate for “The best lechon in the Philippines”, but a certain thing we know is that Davao lechon is one of the best there is. Locals and tourists alike will not run out of places to explore and enjoy the dish all around Davao. With the continuing establishment of a lot of lechon houses all over the city, Davao lechon will continue to be one of the top places for a great lechon find.  

Best Restaurants in Davao

Best Restaurants in Davao

Davao is a city of culture and an up and coming tourist destination that boasts beautiful landmarks. Its local cuisine is something that peaks the interests of travelers everywhere as well. Aside from it being the “Durian capital of the Philippines”, (Durian is a fruit coined as “King of the fruits” in Asia), it also prides itself with its variety of traditional and exotic dishes in many of its restaurants.  Although Davao is known for the abundance of their lechon houses like some other cities in the Philippines, there are still a lot of restaurants in Davao that boasts an impressive and scrumptious set of dishes in their menu. A few of the best restaurants that serve traditional Filipino dishes, including famous dishes like Davao lechon kawali, are listed below.

1. Davao Dencia’s [General Luna St. Davao City ]

A kind of a staple for a lot of Davaoeños, Davao Dencia’s is a restaurant with a long history in Davao. They opened in the 1960s and became one of the go-to places to eat in the city. A lot of Davaoeños grew up with Dencia’s, having built itself up as a historic and traditional restaurant. Locals have made it a place to celebrate special occasions within the family like graduations. Its signature dish is their “Lugaw Goto” (porridge with innards and tripe, sometimes beef and pig) paired with “Tokwa’t baboy” (fried tofu and pork bits). It has become a place for all ages to eat their comfort food, even when on a budget.

2. Antonio’s Bar and Grill [SM City Ecoland and Abreeza Mall in Bajada, Davao City.]

It is famous for its range of dishes and especially their fusion dishes. Antonio’s Bar and Grill makes innovative and more palatable meals for their customers to enjoy. They incorporated ingredients that are especially known to Davao because Antonio’s is Davao-born. They are a pioneer to its kind of cuisine. They do still serve traditional Filipino foods like liempo and lechon kawali but other dishes like their crispy tuna and drinks like buko and durian shake are the main craze.

3. Vista View Restaurant [Diversion Road, Brgy. Langub, Davao City]

As the name suggests, the location of Vista View restaurant provides a pleasing scenery and soothing ambiance to the customers that choose to dine here. It is located in a hill where they have built cottages for privacy where customers can dine appreciate the view of Davao city. They serve a heartwarming “boodle bilao” (a collection of dishes served in a large flat round-shaped winnower), meant to be shared. It usually consists of grilled dishes like chicken, fish, squid, pork and steamed vegetables. “Kinilaw” (ceviche) is also put on top or around dried salted fish rice.

4. Balik Bukid [Quimpo Boulevard near Ecoland Drive, Davao City.]

A refreshing restaurant, Balik-Bukid (directly translated as “Back to the Jungle”) is all about going organic with their dishes. Going organic has never been tastier than in Balik-Bukid. Their ingredients are of the freshest quality like their herbs and vegetables. Their meat is farm-bred and their drinks are freshly squeezed.  The restaurant brings in a lot of tourists and environmentalist that advocates the idea of environment-friendly establishments.

5. Penong’s Barbecue Seafoods and Grills [JP Laurel Avenue, Lanang, Davao City]

“The #1 Barbecue House in Davao”, Penong’s barbecue has established its name as one of the best barbecue places in Davao. For those craving a more savory kind of dishes, this is the place to be. They offer a great variety of grilled barbecues, their signature one being their “chicken inato”. It is a crispy and smoky grilled chicken that is still juicy and has a distinct sweet-salty barbecue taste. They are a budget-friendly restaurant that offers combo meals with unlimited rice that sells for P120 (US 2.00). Unlimited rice for 2 dollars? Yes, please. Delicious and cheap food is always the way to go. They have a few branches in Davao, so there won’t be any excuse to miss while in the area.

6. Marina Tuna [JP. Laurel Avenue, Davao City]

Although Davao is not necessarily known for their Tuna, this restaurant makes an exemption. Marina Tuna has become a culinary landmark favored by a lot of locals and visitors. They cook and incorporate their tuna in almost all dishes and all in a very different kind of way. Some example of their dishes is tuna lugaw, tuna spaghetti, and tuna eye sinigang.

They also serve other fish like salmon, lapu-lapu, and bangus. Adding on to that, they also have other seafood like shrimps, oysters, and crabs. It is truly a convenient place to dine in, having a different variety of food to choose from. Dishes are inspired with a little bit of Philippine, Japanese and Western cuisine. It is a popular food place, especially with younger customers.

7. Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant [Quimpo Boulevard | Sandawa Plaza, Matina, Davao City]

Another seafood restaurant that is an authentic Davao masterpiece. It is a family-owned chain of restaurants that provides fresh dishes at an affordable price. Like other seafood restaurants, they have incorporated some innovative ideas with their dishes. Their bestseller is their tuna tail adobo.

8. Taklobo Restaurant, Jack’s Ridge [Shrine Hill, Matina, Davao City]

Another notable restaurant for its wonderful ambiance and scenery, Taklobo Restaurant in Jack’s Ridge overlooks the Davao Gulf. Also famous for its historic landscape, it stands at a former headquarters for retreating Japanese forces during World War II. Davaoeños usually come here for dinner as they also offer a variety of Filipino dishes from seafood to grilled foods.

9. Cafe Tavera [Tavera corner Avancena St., Davao City]

A place popular to high profile personalities that come to Davao, Café Tavera brings out a unique experience in presenting their food. Their fresh seafood is laid out in a counter among other ingredients for you to choose. Once you have decided what to eat and which ingredients to use, they will cook it for you. A kind of like an instant home-cooked meal, but with the company of lovable strangers.

10. Kaonanan sa Tribu K’Mindawan Davao [Davao Crocodile Park | Riverfront Corporate City, Davao City]

Although this place does not offer lechon, it does offer interesting Filipino dishes. It is a wonderful place to experience the cultural aspects of Davao. Dining here will take you back in time and bring back a taste of Davao culture. The meals they serve are tribal-inspired and dishes are plated in bamboo or wooden sungka plates

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Call/Text 09171556311 or 0823260319 or