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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No. 45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 3:00 PM

A plate of lechon from Tastebuds. - JUN BELEN / JUN-BLOG
  • Jun Belen / Jun-Blog
  • A plate of lechon from Tastebuds.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


If you have ever been to a Filipino American wedding in the Bay Area, you've probably eaten lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine. Never mind that the reception was at some other Filipino restaurant -- many bring in the pork from Tastebuds. The San Bruno restaurant oven-roasts 20 to 30 pigs a week, ranging in size from 15-pound suckling pigs to 70-pound adults. 

If you have no weddings on the schedule, you can drive down to San Bruno to eat lechon in house. Every night, a waiter or two hovers over a small, bronzed pig splayed out under heating lamps in the back of the room, slicing off hunks to sell by the pound (around $12.95). You'll have to check the website for the schedule -- on Wednesday, for instance, Tastebuds serves lechon paella (stuffed with rice), while on Fridays and Saturdays they slice up lechon cebu, its skin delicately perfumed with lemongrass.

No matter what part of the pig the waiters are slicing from, the meat comes out soft and succulent tasting vaguely of carnitas. You can dip a chunk in the sweet-sour pork-liver sauce that comes on the side, or ignore it -- the meat doesn't need additional flavor. 

There's a reason why Tastebuds' lechon is so well loved: the skin. Ruddy, translucent, and just a little sharp-edged, the skin is simultaneously crunchy and chewy, far from tough, and moistened by a thin layer of fat. It's a texture that's almost impossible to replicate at home, which is why so few people even try.

Tastebuds Cuisine: 582 San Bruno Ave. W., San Bruno, (650) 583-0899,

Other favorites in this series:

46: Duck with beets from AQ

47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi

48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 

49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodieand like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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