19 Jul2011

Let’s face it. :) It was a long day at the restaurant and late that evening, I realized we had several lechon heads near the chopping block that are typically turned into our lechon sisig. As a joke, I put a whole head on a large platter and sent it to a large table of friends of friends and asked what they thought about this as a serious dish for late night pulutan (tapas or snacks) with copious amounts of beer. At first they appeared to be a bit overwhelmed, then actually amused (and took all manner of photos featuring the head), but then as they started to peel bits of cheek and ear off, the group seemed to really get into it. They managed to eat quite a bit of it, and it was certainly a conversation piece, not to mention the perfect mix of saltiness, richness, crispness, etc. that pairs well with beer. So my question is, does this go too far? Would you be grossed out to face something like this if you were out late and drinking? Or at the next table for that matter. Is the close up of the nose, whiskers, mouth, etc. unappealing? Or does this give new meaning to “head to tail” eating? If I could, I would serve this (only at the end of the day) on a large sampaloc (tamarind) chopping block, with a bucket of beer or alternatively, several bowls of steaming lechon mami…



  1. emsy says:

    you know MM, in zamboanga, some people order just the head…aside from the gulat factor, the head is filled with unctuous parts!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 10:42 am


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  3. Rona Y says:

    I’ve eaten roast piglet served peking-duck-style in Thailand. The little piglet was splayed out, head and all, in the middle of the table so eaters could tear off the ears, snout, or tail and gnaw on them. It was small, though, so not quite as odd-looking as your pig head.

    I’d gouge out the cheeks and nibble on them babies!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:06 am

  4. ami says:

    Well, if you bring this out when they are already very drunk then it probably wouldn’t shock them. But me personally I’d rather have this in sisig form.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:08 am

  5. JE says:

    Nope, don’t think so. Crispy ulo is already prominent enough here, and I guess the initial shock would naturally be overcome by taste.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:13 am

  6. RJ says:

    The head is one of my favorite parts of lechon! While I’ve never seen a whole pig’s head served in a restaurant, I think it would be a great conversation piece and a fun item to order when you’re with friends. :)

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:16 am

  7. f says:

    I would be worried about encouraging copious drinking in a family friendly restaurant. I enjoy my beer as a beverage to accompany a meal but would not want to be seated next to a rowdy group of guys who stopped by with the express intention of getting smashed. Pricing is your best tool in discouraging this behaviour.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:19 am

  8. Mom From Manila says:

    I remember during my Debut party, Mama wanted so much to have a lechon. But, we could not afford to have the whole lechon and have all the other dishes as well. What my Mama did was she saved the head, boil it with her spices and herbs, brought the boiled pig head to a neighborhood bakery and have it roasted in their oven. It could perhaps look shocking to little kids and to foreigners seeing the entire head served on the table. But, to most of us, I guess, not at all! Especially, if the taste could overwrite the shock factor, as what one of the other commenters say…On a lighter note, nakita ng asawa ko ito, biglang nag request ng lechon head para sa bday ni Father-in-Law!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:52 am

  9. Gerry says:

    In a lechon restaurant, a head would not be in the least improper. Same as finding chicken heads in some chinese soups or stews, though that does freak me out a whole of a lot more.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 11:59 am

  10. Lerker says:

    Marketman it was so nice to meet you on my Manila-Cebu flight. I’m the one with the huge pink bag who introduced herself to you. Only … it wasn’t you. Just someone who looked like you. Who probably thinks I’m insane. *cringe*

    Jul 19, 2011 | 12:21 pm

  11. Anne :-) says:

    I would find it interesting…probably you can serve the lechon head on a beautiful board that you metioned above and you may put in some sidings into it…I’m thinking salads or buros….to encourage drinkers to mix and match the head with different sidings? Just a thought… :-p

    Jul 19, 2011 | 12:26 pm

  12. Bubut says:

    as i can see that the cheeks are as crispy as the skin in the belly, i wouldnt mind if someone serving this to me, though i dont drink. I would just order for a cup of rice and a saucer with ketchup.

    Nice post!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 12:32 pm

  13. Lambert says:

    LOL!!!!! An inspired (and very funny) idea! :D

    Jul 19, 2011 | 1:15 pm

  14. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    We learned to eat the cheeks, ears, tongue, brain from my dad and its been passed on to 4 generations now! Even my grandnephews (who are not in their teens yet) fight for the ears and tongue. So, don’t be surprise, if we order a couple, if and when you have these in the menu…..hehehehe

    Jul 19, 2011 | 1:15 pm

  15. Gej says:

    Among friends and family at home is ok. But in a resto, a bit too far for me.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 1:47 pm

  16. Jack says:

    In Baguio, several drinking places offer a head (pig or goat) in a plate as specialty items. For Baguio people, this would be a normal dish. Maybe a special dish since you serve roasted head and the common head dishes in Baguio are stewed in a sour broth…

    Jul 19, 2011 | 2:28 pm

  17. gus hansen says:

    Some years back when my family still had a bar, we actually served “Crispy Mukha” which was half a pig’s face fried crispy. And I remember eating the same thing in a now-defunct watering hole near Ortigas. I think this is a great idea!!! I’d definitely order it.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 2:42 pm

  18. Phil says:

    Different strokes for different folks. I can’t nibble directly from that thing, what with that wide mouth open and roasted pair of eyes. I’d rather have it in sisig form please, as Ami prefers.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 2:43 pm

  19. giancarlo says:

    With a group of good friends who I wouldn’t mind eating a possibly messy meal, sure.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 4:20 pm

  20. present tense says:

    Its an acquired taste. Different impressions for drinkers and in a family oriented arena at that. Serve it after office hours. Keep the chopping block. Serve the mami even later. When everyone’s drunk. Let it ( the product ) build its own reputation. Cheers !

    Jul 19, 2011 | 5:34 pm

  21. Kasseopeia says:

    Drunk or not, this would get both thumbs up from me. It’s interactive pulutan!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 5:48 pm

  22. cumin says:

    I can imagine the younger generation would be aghast, but I wouldn’t mind the sight myself, the way I don’t mind seeing fish heads on the table. I like to remember where the food comes from and give thanks to the animal. :-)

    Jul 19, 2011 | 7:01 pm

  23. gensanite says:

    THIS would go well with ice-cold beer!!!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 7:09 pm

  24. Footloose says:

    In Chinatown (1974), Jake looked at a serving of tuna head and muttered “I’m glad they don’t serve chicken this way.” As a few above say, depends on the company or situation (such as say a picnic or an army in retreat) but above all, if you are not bothered on the slightest by being thought of as someone who fosters barbarism.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 7:43 pm

  25. natie says:

    oh, no…NOT at all grossed-out…it’s quite a treat to have a lechon-head for a meal. it’s very Pinoy. ‘nothing’ goes to waste.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 8:10 pm

  26. Mimi says:

    I find nothing wrong having head on the menu. You do already serve the entire body. This somehow reminds me of a tv feature way back when kids were asked to identify the live animal and its meat counterpart. Some of the kids did not know that the ‘nuggets’ came from chicken and sausages from pig, and hamburger beef from cow. Your pig head could be a multi-purpose centrepiece- a gustatory education.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 8:31 pm

  27. MP says:

    Too far? Not at all… My entire family wouldn’t mind ordering a lechon head or 2, if available.. BTW MM, I keep checking the menu board and noted the absence of ‘squisig’..did you change your mind about serving it?

    Jul 19, 2011 | 8:40 pm

  28. Irene says:

    Not gross at all! :) I remember how you were saying the audience changes after dinner. Not hard to see the late night crowd digging in.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 9:32 pm

  29. Mari says:

    MM, if you served the lechon head in front of my family…we would be devouring it right away. And since you only plan to serve it at the end of the day…watch how busy your restaurant will be waiting for this time! Can’t wait to go back to Phils. and visit your restaurant!

    Jul 19, 2011 | 10:31 pm

  30. EbbaBlue says:

    Well, I cannot afford whole pig and cannot consume it, kasi my American husband won’t eat much, and my children don’t eat pork, so sa kagustuhan kong may handang lechon sa gatherings namin sa bahay, I buy just the ulo, put it in the platter then decorate with fresh veggies. My apos (age ranging from 12-3 yrs old), they are amazed, and started putting oranges, apples, kalamansi in its mouth and watch me peel the cheeks skin and eat it. They did not grossed-out but won’t eat it (kasi nga they don’t eat pork like their mom).

    I don’t know, pero sa akin ok lang yung nasa-ibabaw ng mesa itong lechon ulo, eh bakit ba the whole pig is the same naman, and what about the peking duck na meron pang ulo or paa sometimes, and the waiter will cut the skin off for you and serve right there in your table. I guess its just how you were brought up. And also siguro kasi we use to have a meat stall in Guadalupe.

    The difference now though, I have to be sure where the pig come from. Kaya nga when I go Pinas, baboy na pinaalaga ko ang kinakatay at ginagawa naming lechon.

    Jul 19, 2011 | 10:40 pm

  31. Stewart says:

    Whenever we order a whole roast pig (Chinese style, with the pricked skin ala Marketman, no real lechons that I’ve found yet in Vancouver), I always go for the head. Since I’m usually the one called upon to cut up the critter, I leave the head for myself and pick on the ears, cheeks and tongue. I try to keep a bit of the neck too as it’s an incredible tender and moist part of the animal. When in the Philippines and the inevitable lechon (though not from your establishment…yet!), I always ask for the head and tear into it with gusto.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 12:16 am

  32. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    What beer guzzling alpha male and his inebriated buddies would not enjoy this? I think you may have stumbled upon a bit of serendipity and may realize the potential of this as an offering. You could serve it as is with rounds of your favorite drinks and let the table have at it. Or after people have taken their favorite pieces, return to the kitchen and use the remainder for the aforementioned mami, sisig or whatever comes to mind.

    Part of the newly ‘gastropub’ trend here in the US would readily accept this as ‘adventurous’ eating.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 2:09 am

  33. tonceq says:

    Shock would probably be the first emotion that would come to (my) mind… especially if I really try to notice the pig’s expression (which looks shocked too… or is that a goofy smile?) But all I have to do is close my eyes and remember that it is nourishment too so I do think that it would be fine to serve it this way. Just remember to give the customers a choice as whether they want it this way or in chopped and segregated form. :)

    Jul 20, 2011 | 3:47 am

  34. eej says:

    Yes, this is definitely pushing the envelope! Would prefer it to be all chopped up and well garnished with no semblance of Miss Piggy next to my plate.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 5:44 am

  35. roland says:

    not at all – but if it were i would like it if it were butterflied

    Jul 20, 2011 | 5:57 am

  36. Jong says:

    I have a pinsan in Cebu who always goes for the brain, so I am sure he will be first in line :)

    As for me, like mentioned earlier, the neck area is very yummy. so I do not think it would be yucky to serve the head for late night pulutan.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 6:36 am

  37. Pinksalmonlady says:

    I will be delighted to serve and eat this whole pig head. A tradition I grew up with having pig head on our table every New Years Eve. Since I came from a big family and my parents cannot afford to buy the whole lechon, my mum always make sure to order from her butcher ahead of time and bring it to the nearest bakery for roasting and pick it up before 12 midnight.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 9:27 am

  38. Joe-ker says:

    Hello MM, actually a fried crispy version of the cross section of the head is being sold as take out as a complement to beer. Maybe chopping it up to bite size pieces would be perfect for those all night inuman sessions.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 9:38 am

  39. Dennis Glorioso says:

    In my hometown in Bocaue, Bulacan, putting a lechon head in the buffet table during fiestas or special occasions is big time. Yung iba pa nga nilalagyan pa ng mansanas ang bibig nito. Hehehehe.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 9:47 am

  40. Vettievette says:

    Some of my earliest memories are of my dad and uncles roasting lechons in Concord, CA – yep we had a backyard big enough to pull this off at that time. My lola would then cut up the animal w/ a bolo and put the head on the platter w/ an apple. We still do this w/ lechons we order (lechonero is from Cebu, of course). As kids we marveled at the head w/ the fruit in it. Given that Zubu IS a lechon restaurant, this would not be off-putting at all to me w/ the right amount of beer and sarsa/suka for sawsawsawan. :)

    Jul 20, 2011 | 1:57 pm

  41. Papa Ethan says:

    I see no fundamental difference between serving a whole roasted pig’s head and serving a whole crackling pata that displays the cringed knuckles and joints. They’re merely different parts of the same food source, meant to be enjoyed in their peculiar ways.

    As can be gleaned from most of the comments above, ulo ng lechon is regarded as a special thing to eat. It’s not only particularly delicious, it provides a medium for communal eating by getting the diners involved in “deconstructing” the whole into its yummy parts.

    Perhaps a special section or corner of the restaurant could be reserved (or screened off by strategically-placed dividers) for serving the ulo so as not to spook those gentler folks who don’t fancy an entire lechon head? Just an idea… =)

    Jul 20, 2011 | 2:01 pm

  42. basel says:


    Jul 20, 2011 | 3:51 pm

  43. Footloose says:

    Or brems ika nga ni Mang Nano.

    Jul 20, 2011 | 6:24 pm

  44. tina vitas says:

    Having grown up with an amazing home cook for a mother who fed us all sorts of cow, pig and chicken innards, I am not the least bit squeamish when it comes to food…..Fried calf’s brains was a common dish for us. But I think to serve a severed pig head on a platter in a restaurant would make me a little uncomfortable and “parang nakakawala ng gana kumain” if I happened to glance at it next to my table. Very few things can do that to me! I know that the difference between serving an entire pig with body & all and a pig head is quite subtle but I think the effects on the diners are far greater than the subtlety in the above difference. My opinion! :)

    Jul 20, 2011 | 6:44 pm

  45. Mary Kim says:

    maybe if it’s listed in the menu–then folks who want it will have it.^ ^

    Jul 20, 2011 | 11:16 pm

  46. roland says:

    no – no need to list — only the regulars/insiders may order it – every cool restaurant has secret items on their “menu”

    Jul 21, 2011 | 4:32 am

  47. Mart says:

    Absolutely nothing wrong with this picture. I’d say “where’s the beer” if I unexpectedly chance upon one in our dining room.

    A roasted pig head will most certainly gross a lot of people out; at least most of the urban caucasians here in the US. But only because most people forget that that slab of meat they buy from the supermarket with all the blood cleaned off and neatly saran-wrapped on a styro-foam plate actually came from a animal that was once alive; breathing and pumping blood through its veins. Same goes for organ meats.

    Seems to me the “gross-est” parts of an animal are the tastiest and even sometimes the most nutritious parts.

    Slightly off-topic:
    Mark Zuckerberg focuses on one “hobby” each year as part of his personal growth. This year is his “I only eat meat that I’ve killed myself” phase for this year. For him it is like giving respect to the meat.

    Hi! I’m actually typing this in my cubicle in Concord, CA! Small world…

    Jul 21, 2011 | 4:48 am

  48. Footloose says:

    One man’s meat is another man’s emetic. Something that whets the appetite of an individual might trigger the gag-reflex on another. There is clearly no accounting for taste although there are indoor table service standards that certain classes of people observe, even in private. Outdoors is another matter. In fact, a boar’s head is not only tolerable but essential to a band of merry men whooping it up with wayward wenches in their fastness in Sherwood forest.

    Jul 21, 2011 | 6:10 am

  49. crabbychef says:

    MM, I know it tastes fantastic, but something else kicked in. I feel so sorry for the poor pig. With marks on its face and all, and the contorted grimace of an animal meeting its death. I love pork, but for the life of me I cannot look at this picture without asking myself why we have to eat animals at all. :(

    Jul 21, 2011 | 6:47 am

  50. ilovecheapcalls says:

    i would be grossed out but i know this will not be the common opinion… if its to be served i think i agree with you that it should be served at the end of the day as pulutan..

    Jul 21, 2011 | 9:33 am

  51. Kai says:

    In Pangasinan lechon heads – the mouths stuffed with apples – are prominently displayed on the buffet tables in each and every occasion I’ve attended, that I have actually come to expect them. They’re even made the centerpiece at the newlywed”s table during wedding receptions, a common enough practice that was done during my own wedding reception, to my horror (I had to ask the caterer to remove it).

    The guests are welcome to pinch on it while drinking after the party, but it’s usually given to the cooks as a prize.

    Jul 21, 2011 | 10:40 am

  52. iFoodTrip says:

    Go too far? For some I understand. I just overcame my ‘animal face’ in food phobia 2 weeks ago by making paksiw out of 3 lechon heads. I’ve gone a long way considering I couldn’t chop of the head of a chicken bought in a singapore grocery 5 years ago.

    Jul 21, 2011 | 11:23 am

  53. joanne says:

    For a neanderthal-themed resto, pwede. :) Otherwise, eat it like that at home.

    Jul 21, 2011 | 6:07 pm

  54. ariel nievera says:

    MM, please share your sinampalukan menu, I like the kambing version, I just hate the chopping work involved. On the chinese asian store close by, we buy the heads and make paksiw out of it. However, my wife and doctors want me to eat more veggies, maybe if you also have some local salad recipes. Thanks..continued success on all your business endeavors. God Bless.

    Jul 22, 2011 | 1:56 am

  55. QueenB says:

    I could just imagine my OZ friends’ reaction to this who are freaked out with a whole fish (they can’t stand the eyes staring at them :) I would love this anytime as pulutan or ulam.

    Jul 22, 2011 | 3:26 pm

  56. Jason says:

    Half a head would be better (like they do with Analisa’s Crispy ulo)
    Makes it easier to pick out the good stuff (less morbid-looking din) hehe.

    Jul 24, 2011 | 9:11 pm

  57. JOJO says:

    I was in Puerto Rico a few days ago.In Guavate , Puerto Rico(yup, I was the only pinoy there!!) So we went to a lechonera where a pound of lechon costs about $8.50. I asked for three pounds of lechon . I told the guy that was doing the chopping that I wanted some meat from around the neck area. Then he says he can just give me the head of the pig for $4. hehehe -of course I couldn’t turn it down. So i take it to my in-laws’ (who were just in awe that there is a head of a lechon on their dinner table). Somehow ,I did convince them that the head had some good meat on it. A few minutes later we were all enjoying the meat and skin from the pig’s head!! Too bad, I didn’t have time to make sisig for them.

    Jul 26, 2011 | 6:02 am

  58. JLA fr Jakarta says:

    I used to go to a restaurant (forgot the name) in Quezon City that served fried half pig’s head- they called it “Kapal Muks”.

    Aug 15, 2011 | 8:36 pm


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