After falling in love with lechon during my trip to Cebu, I had often wondered when will I be tasting again the Philippines national dish which Anthony Bourdain described as simply "the best pig, ever".
So, after reading from Susan Wong's blog that we can get lechon at a Singapore kopitiam(!), I wasted no time in making my way down to Geylang to get my lechon fix.
(Thanks, Susan for sharing :D )
Chris, the owner of Iskina Cebu is from Talisay City in Cebu, a city famous for it's lechon. Living in Singapore for many years, Chris pines for food from his hometown.
Chris realised that the only way to have his comfort food is to make it himself, and decided to open Iskina Cebu. Iskina means corner, so this stall is literally, Singapore's Cebu Corner.
Nova from Cebu is the chef at Iskina Cebu.
Making lechon takes a lot of hard work and heavy lifting. (Each pig weighs at least 20 kilos.) The pig has to be marinated and packed with spices, and then put above red hot charcoal to BBQ for 5 hours.
Nova has to constantly attend to the burning coals, shovelling it to make sure that the heat is at the right temperature and evenly spread.
The pig also has to be rotated constantly to ensure that it is evenly grilled.
That takes a lot of skill, expertise and close attention.
The lechon is ready! Best eaten hot, fresh off the charcoal pit, the lechon is usually ready at Iskina Cebu stall at 12:30pm (on weekends) and 5:30pm (on week days).
Tip: Be there at least 30 minutes before, to queue for the best cut :D
That rhythmic "tuk, tuk, tuk" dull thumping sound we heard in every food corner in Cebu, is now right here at Iskina Cebu.
I guess the familiar sound would be comforting and therapeutic to Cebuanos.
It's music to my ears too :D
I had the Lechon de Cebu set which costs SGD10.
The set consisted of roasted pork and a bowl of white rice served on a rattan plate lined with waxed paper.
The skin was crackly and slightly hard with soft, juicy fat below.
I love this.
The meat was tender, moist and mildly flavoured. Chris told me that the more gentle flavours were in response to customers' preference here.
The pigs at Iskina Cebu are sourced from Australia, so the texture and porkiness is what most Singaporeans would be familiar with.
The indigenous breed of pigs used back in Cebu has finer, less fibrous texture and juiciness approaching that of roast chicken.
The flavours back in Cebu are also more robust and more deeply infused in the meat fibres.
(My post on lechon in Cebu, home of The Philippines' best lechon.)
These huge birds look enticing.
I shall be back to try Iskina Cebu's BBQ chicken (Manok de Balamban) next time :D
Another customer's Cebu style roast belly pork (Liempo de Balamban) set (SGD6).
Needless to say, the best lechon is in Cebu, but here in Singapore, Iskina Cebu lechon is the
Iskina Cebu is right opposite and connected to Paya Lebar MRT station by an underpass.
Iskina Cebu is the stall at the right hand corner of the kopitiam at Blk 1016 in Geylang East (right in front of the bus stop).
Restaurant name: Iskina Cebu
Address: Blk 1016, Geylang East Ave 3, Singapore (Opposite Paya Lebar MRT station)
Hours: 12:00 noon to 9:00pm (Closed on Monday)
Date visited: 18 May 2014
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