TUO ZAAFI WITH AYOYO SOUP
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What: A Cebu staple dish, lechon manok (“leh-chon mah-nok”) is rotisserie chicken stuffed with lemongrass, and the poultry cousin of lechon Cebu, Cebu's beloved whole roast pig. Lechon (sometimes spelled litson) manok as we know it was invented in the mid-1980s, when someone hooked up a couple of skewers to a bicycle chain and gears to roast whole chickens over coals. It took the Philippines by storm, with stand after stand sprouting up in streets across the archipelago. The craze eventually died down, but not before lechon manok became a favorite dish of Cebu, where it seems there’s a vendor or two literally every 500 meters. But its popularity is no wonder: It’s the perfect mix of affordability, portability, and delicious, juicy flavor. And it’s available day or night.
Where: Joule’s (Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. near Talamban Rd., map) in Talamban is unsigned, but it’s easy to spot thanks to the big rotisserie contraption up front and its proximity to the town hall. Just follow the smoke!
When: Daily, 8am-8pm. When you see it smoking, you’ll know they’re grilling. Lines are likely to form during peak hours (near lunch or dinner time).
Order: One whole roast chicken (Php 160), which is usually enough to feed three or four people. Ask them to chop it into serving pieces and add three to five pieces of puso per person. Don’t forget to take a small bag of the complimentary vinegar sauce, which has spicy bird’s eye chili in it. This is picnic food, Cebu style!
Alternatively: Stop by any lechon manok stand and it’s almost 100% guaranteed that you will like it. Or hit up a widely popular national chain, like Andok’s (multiple locations including the corner of M.J. Cuenco Ave. & Juan Luna Ave., map) or Sr. Pedro (Gorordo Ave., map)—they’re good, too. But even the one-offs and no-name stands we tried served decent, freshly grilled chicken. Each brand or stand tends to have its own “secret” combination of stuffing ingredients that result in a signature flavor, so there will be some variation in saltiness and taste from stall to stall. All the more reason to try many of them!
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