27 Jul2014


Finally, we are open to serve meals at our Marina Mall location in Mactan, Cebu! Last Wednesday, I flew to Cebu to find the restaurant 99% ready. Last minute tweaks here and there, a small army of crew and dozens of staff borrowed from other outlets moving around like busy bees unloading boxes, cleaning and stocking, tons of paperwork was finished for the inspectors, and rather pricey but iconic black glass panels were just about to be installed at our kinilaw bar.


Thursday morning we had a pre-scheduled blessing by a rather jolly priest, who gamely sprayed holy water on three rather serious government inspectors who just happened to be there and who put our operations manager through an hour or more of questioning and making rounds about the premises. I am pleased to say we passed with flying colors, and got our approval to soft open on the spot, and our certificate to operate within 24 hours. And yes, we have our access ramp, handicap compliant bathroom, hideous exit signs above doors, emergency lights, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, etc. in place. Frankly, it was a totally professional experience from the authorities, the best we have experienced in all our restaurant openings.


Every nook and cranny of the place was blessed including the toilet, bar, etc. I have found that employees are nervy about opening and operating a new space without a priest scaring off any lingering spirits. I simply go with the flow.


A view of the restaurant from inside the main doors from the parking lot. This was Friday morning, I had already hit the flower market and went a little overboard, hence the abundance of blooms. This is our snazziest looking outlet yet. Our architect Maya Franco, and her associates, designed this for us, and they have designed all of our other branches as well. Some features in this one that don’t exist in other branches are brick walls painted white, black glass panels, and lots of finger-jointed wood panels.


A view of the restaurant from the other end of the space.


Just in case you thought you walked into another restaurant.


One of two display tables for retail goods. Mostly chicharon, jams, etc. that we make in-house. But also broas, tableya, local rhum, liquors, woven bags, hats, etc. for many of the tourists (local and foreign) we expect to serve at this branch. It’s amazing how many folks come to eat, but end up browsing and taking home one or more items from the retail tables. Other interesting things on offer are the dried kamias we make ourselves (when there’s 4-5 days in a row of hot sun), dried fish skin, lamayo, banana chips and all of our frozen items as well.


Flowers at the wash area, a bit over the top, but we had just a few too many that day. Nice lemongrass scented handsoap from ritual… No photo of the bathroom, it has a wall of black glass still waiting to be installed, but I can tell you that many guests have shockingly outrageous bathroom habits, throwing tissues on the floor despite a perfectly good covered waste bin in the space. Keeping this bathroom clean will require a lot of attention and patience.


Part of the second retail table and more importantly, the new kinilaw bar in the background. Black graphicote glass with Zubudagat sticker in the background, white marble counters, white bar stools and a sushi chiller on the counter, to display whatever market fresh seafood we have on offer on that particular day.


A large talakitok, a katambak and a lapu-lapu on seaweed. I had purchased 3 kilos of wonderful fatty alimasag or blue crabs, steamed them and was cooling them before chilling them. I forgot with all the stuff going on and a few hours later realized they could not be displayed after sitting a bit too long. The crew and I had a great crab dinner after dinner service that first day. But probably lost money due to the crab mistake and the overzealous flower purchases earlier in the day. Not to worry, the place looked festive and photogenic. :)


In the days ahead we will be picking up orders for more wonderful locally made bags and handicrafts, and we will be stocking up on dried fish, etc. for Manila tourists who can’t be bothered to head to the taboan market to stock up (and inevitably leave smelling like dried fish). On our second night of operations Korean tourists purchased beautifully packaged Manille liquer (kalamansi infused) after a free taste of it, and we hope to offer a curated list of local products.


Here, in one corner of our table, some Don Papa rum from Negros. And take a look at the table, our in-house carpenter/handyman made this from scratch, using steel pipes and planks of mahogany wood! I LOVE this table. And will probably start selling them if enough people ask about them.


Our carpenter also made the communal, marble-topped table as well. Another favorite of mine, though the marble top can get pricey and will stain easily. On our first day of operations, not a single guest chose to sit at the beautiful set-up. Maybe the row of vases with anthuriums were intimidating… I sat there with a beer or coke light many times during the day to observe the goings on. :)


As you enter the main doors, there is a glassed in lechon chopping area to your right, and a view of the charcoal grill as well. The lechon in the photo has been decimated, another one is hiding in the shelves below.


The grill is working nicely, but retains so much darned heat throughout the day, making the kitchens rather uncomfortable. We are tweaking our exhaust systems to improve this situation. We were practicing with several grilled items, one of which here on the upper left, is boneless chicken inasal on a stick. Delicious when hot off the grill. I gave in on ONE item on the menu, and the pork barbecue that prevailed is a sweetish one, not my preferred bagoong and gata basted barbecue. Basically, we can and do offer a little upscale “SUTUKIL” or sugba (grilled), tinowa (tinola), and kilawin (kinilaw/ceviche) along with lechon and other menu items.


A view of the main entrance, at dusk. We are located about 1 minute from the time you get into your vehicle at the Mactan arrivals area at the airport… so drop by for a meal just after you land in Cebu… that’s what several vehicles of guests did on our first and second day of operations. And for now, we are open 24 HOURS a day! It might be quiet in the wee hours of the night/morning, but we can feed you if you are hungry. Frankly, it’s a nicer place to hang out late night when you are killing time before that budget 3am flight where the airport won’t let you in until 100am or so…


A view from across the street. I am so thrilled to have several large buri palms just in front of our premises, they are one of my favorite (and disappearing) iconic filipino trees. We put in some new landscaping and a dozen lights to highlight the trees and greenery.


And here just one example (a mild and amusing one) of how local contractors do things their way. To install three rather expensive, and delicate large panels of black glass, the crew of three carried them from the truck by hand (no trolleys or rubber gloves or safety gear), gingerly raised them up in a tight space and put them into place. Of course they did the left panel first, then the right panel (rather than side by side which I thought made more sense), only to find a huge gap when they put in the central panel. I walked away so as not to jinx the installation and they somehow managed to fix it all.


But when it came time to seal or grout the glass, with no ladder in their truck, they formed a human ladder that had me shaking my head and smiling at the same time. After all, if they had broken the pane(s) (they broke another pane a week before), they would have to replace them (albeit 3 weeks later). But then, they proved me wrong in a way…


…as the “automatic” ladder gracefully did a split (a la that Volvo commercial of recent youtube fame) and the man in the center with the sealant gun slowly and without stopping squeezed sealant halfway down the panel in one fluid motion. It was an applause worthy performance!

We hope to welcome you to our new store if you happen to be in Cebu in the months ahead. If you have friends coming for the Ironman triathlon next weekend, we have pushed this opening to be ready to serve as many participants of that sports event as we can manage!

Marina Mall
ML Quezon Highway
Lapu-Lapu City



  1. Thel from Florida says:

    AWESOME!!!! So classy, so beautiful–congratulations. God Bless always.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 9:25 am


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  3. chrisb says:

    Congratulations MM and crew! I think this calls for another trip to Cebu :-)

    Jul 27, 2014 | 9:36 am

  4. dizzy says:

    Congratulations, MM! That bit on the glass installation and the human ladder…it brings a smile and a shake of the head at the same time. :)

    Jul 27, 2014 | 9:41 am

  5. Bearhug0127 says:

    Congratulations, MM! Simply beautiful!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 10:01 am

  6. lucadong says:

    WOW! congratulations!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 10:38 am

  7. Joey says:

    Mabuhay to you and congratulations the crew. Can’t wait for a look-see-eat!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:07 am

  8. Footloose says:

    It just got harder to resist a detour to Cebu. I wish there were eventually a reputable rating agency to award you the way Guide Michelin doles away their stars, “Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage.”

    You just employed one of the time honoured tenets of Japanese landscaping, taking advantage of a borrowed view. I can’t make it out clearly but the top of the building looks interesting too. Are those protruding rafters of a pergola?

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:45 am

  9. aleeh co says:


    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:46 am

  10. Cwid says:

    Beautiful! Can’t wait to see the photos of mouth watering dishes served at Zubuchon. Another successful venture, I am sure.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:48 am

  11. Lee says:

    Congratulations! It is just a few blinks away from the airport :)

    Jul 27, 2014 | 12:14 pm

  12. mkfinds says:

    hope you see the retail table. it would make a lovely dining table.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 12:15 pm

  13. mkfinds says:

    meant sell not see. thanks. hope you sell the retail table.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 2:03 pm

  14. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Simply stunning.

    Love the pop of red.Congratulations on your new resto.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 2:38 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments/wishes. mkfinds, thanks for the vote of confidence, this might give our carpenter additional income to boot! Footloose, you should read some of the trip advisor reviews we get… if the best sushi shop in Roppongi and us have the same @4ish rating, I can’t complain. Even French laundry only gets a 4.5… yipes, how absurd is that?! But an average meal at our place will run you $8 while meals at those two other restaurants will cost you at least 10-20x more.:)

    Jul 27, 2014 | 3:28 pm

  16. millet says:

    snazzy indeed! can’t wait to check it out. congratulations and good luck, everyone!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 4:49 pm

  17. Nadia says:

    Congratulations MM! I’m looking forward to savoring the fresh (and very local!) catch from Bantayan :)

    On a side note…I noticed that you are selling the Manille Calamansi Liquer. My husband and I were so excited when this product first came out and quickly got ourselves a bottle. We were hoping it could be an alternative pasalubong to friends abroad, who normally get a 12 yr old Tanduay from us. It looked beautiful from the outside (from the can to the bottle to the label). Unfortunately though, we were so disappointed with the taste. It was just sickeningly sweet with hardly any calamansi flavor. We drank it cold (bottle was in the freezer for an hour or so) and on the rocks, but the temperature didn’t do anything to tame the sweetness. Even other family members (who love their alcoholic drinks) didn’t approve. Overall, we decided that it’s not a product we would want to give away. In case you know the designers of this product (SZC and OLA), I hope you could give them my feedback. The concept is really good and I would love to have a product such as this…but only if they reformulate to lessen the sugar and increase the citrus flavor.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 4:52 pm

  18. greens_blossoms says:

    Woooohoooo!!!! Congratulations, MM! Another “baby” born :-)

    Jul 27, 2014 | 4:57 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Nadia, I would have to agree with you. We just opened a bottle after buying a case. It lacks kalamansi, but worse, as one guest described, it tasted like the edge hadn’t been taken off “cheap vodka”… however, cooked into things, or perhaps with a squeeze of fresh kalamansi, or as part of a mixed drink, I can see it being a nice thing to add… say to boozy kalamansi muffins with kalamansi marmalade for example. But if the aim was to do a limoncello but with kalamansi, it falls short of that goal. Nevertheless, I like to support innovative locally made products like this, hence it’s being put on the retail tables… now let’s see if there is a market for it. As for packaging and bottle, that’s a slam dunk…

    Jul 27, 2014 | 5:32 pm

  20. Lee says:

    I really like the graphic design of Don Papa rum. Will you be serving local alcohol based mixed drinks?

    Jul 27, 2014 | 7:25 pm

  21. Footloose says:

    Calamansi caipirinhas and daing croquettes, yum.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 7:57 pm

  22. Bernadette says:

    Congrats! World class, we need more entrepreneurs like you!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 8:53 pm

  23. Lou says:

    That red is very stimulating to the eyes. I love that table. If I am already home, I would order one. I have to wait a couple of years.

    Jul 27, 2014 | 9:30 pm

  24. dianne says:

    congratulations, MM! kudos for supporting and selling local products! such gorgeous bags!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 9:50 pm

  25. Natie says:

    Wow, wow! Impressive! No, the flowers aren’t over-the-top at all. Congratulations, MM!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 10:27 pm

  26. Anne says:

    Thanks you make the rest of the country proud especially that its near the airport- someday soon, I’ll go to Cebu and drop by. Mabuhay po kayo!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:09 pm

  27. Carmela says:

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to drop by your new restaurant! Good Luck

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:34 pm

  28. Khew says:

    Yes, the table caught my eye and you mentioning it much later confirms that I wasn’t just being “arty” and that I actually did notice something worthy. Try sticking some orchids into those palms and see if they take. CONGRATS!

    Jul 27, 2014 | 11:56 pm

  29. Nina says:

    Just beautiful! Can’t wait to pass by next year when we visit ‘Pinas. Footloose, thought the borrowed view originated in China and not Japan? Was in China last year and you see these tenets everywhere especially in classical gardens of Suzhou.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 12:06 am

  30. Netoy says:

    The bright color; the flowers and the aesthetics of it all – simply beautiful. Good luck, MM!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 12:29 am

  31. Footloose says:

    Of course, it originated in China but it reached its sublime development in the gardens attached to Buddhist temples of Japan. That’s buddhism as in Chan which we only hear of in its Japanese guise, Zen. In fact you would be right most of the time if you say every artistic expression, technological innovation and philosophical concept originated in China. That’s why inquisitive kids do not intimidate me with their queries as to where babies come from. I just confidently tell them from China mostly.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 1:17 am

  32. Titanons says:

    The human ladder? Filipino ingenuity at it’s best!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 1:22 am

  33. Adobo Diaries says:

    Your new restaurant looks welcoming. And it’s great that it’s 24 hours.

    Can’t wait to try it when I’m in Cebu.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 3:10 am

  34. scott says:

    Congratulations MM, the restaurant looks absolutely stunning, think I will swing by this upcoming weekend and try it out! I am not much of a fish fan so I will leave that for the wife and kids, but I will for sure have the lechon!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 5:34 am

  35. Marketman says:

    scott, that’s ironman weekend, just don’t get caught in the traffic/closed roads on Sunday… but otherwise, I will probably be there most of Saturday and Sunday, so if you go, I would like to say hello… gosh, I am so glad the reaction is good. I wasn’t alone then in thinking it was bright, airy, and light in feel. Though others have said it might look a bit more expensive than the food really is…

    Jul 28, 2014 | 6:21 am

  36. john paul sarabia says:

    congratulations-I will go to your restaurant- is this located beside the Italian resto ?

    Jul 28, 2014 | 7:27 am

  37. Marketman says:

    John, yes, it is a few meters away from the La Tegola.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 7:48 am

  38. jerome says:

    All the best MM!…surely to drop by in my next visit to Cebu..wondering how Anthony Bourdain might be missing the Best Pig Ever! and that includes me..

    Jul 28, 2014 | 9:16 am

  39. ami says:

    Congratulations MM and crew! Beautiful looking restaurant. Regarding the communal table that nobody sat on, I think it’s because it’s quite tricky and uncomfortable to sit on those elevated stools especially for ladies. Wa-poise getting on and off those chairs. I would only sit there if it were the last unoccupied table in the restaurant.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 9:23 am

  40. Andrew says:

    Looking forward to my weekend trip to Cebu. Hope to see and finally meet you Mr. MM.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 9:30 am

  41. Junb says:

    another reason why we should visit Cebu!!! Congratulations to the whole Zubuchon Team!!!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 10:05 am

  42. Gigi says:

    very nice! also the woven bags are pretty. any chance they can be sourced here in manila?

    Jul 28, 2014 | 1:19 pm

  43. Mart says:

    Congratulations on opening! Wow, 24 hours. I can just imagine it now. Lechon and some cold brewskis. Haaay. Kelan pa kaya ako mapapadpad dyan sa Cebu?

    Jul 28, 2014 | 2:25 pm

  44. Avid Thinker says:

    Congrats MM, family and crew! We’ll drop by whenever we get to go in Mactan. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your new outlet.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 2:34 pm

  45. David B says:

    Congrats, MM! Can’t wait to try it

    Jul 28, 2014 | 5:18 pm

  46. MP says:

    How impressive MM! Congrats to the entire Zubuchon team, (including that panel installation team for their death-defying feat hahaha).

    I love that the place looks so expensive but the prices of the food and other items for sale are not! Another trip to Cebu, this time with the hubby, needs to be set.

    Jul 28, 2014 | 6:17 pm

  47. Chinky says:

    Congrats, MM. love the retail table! Am sure this outlet will do very well! Better here than in the airport!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 8:26 pm

  48. Footloose says:

    @Ami, Regarding the communal table that nobody sat on, I think it’s because it’s quite tricky and uncomfortable to sit on those elevated stools especially for ladies.

    What do you know, this is the upmarket version of pongko pongko (http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/pongko-pongko-cebu-street-food). I’m inclined to think though that it’s the low sitting positions such as squatting on one’s haunches or as when alighting from a deep carseat that present higher risk of losing one’s poise unless one is intent on giving it away as avid followers of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears can attest (find your own link).

    Jul 28, 2014 | 9:14 pm

  49. ying says:

    Congratulations MM & crew! I’m still hoping (and praying) that you would open one in Manila soon!

    Jul 28, 2014 | 9:53 pm

  50. La Emperor says:

    Congrats again. Looking forward to visiting. MM, the table… Was that from the fallen tree you featured sometime ago? And a hint of what’s to come? ;-)

    Jul 29, 2014 | 12:34 am

  51. Lucy says:

    Congratulations, MM! Hoping to grab a bite from one of your outlets, soon. All the best..

    Jul 29, 2014 | 3:23 am

  52. Kasseopeia says:

    It is beautiful! I’d probably stand there and stare at the interiors for a while before hunger brings me back to earth.

    As for the steel pipe/mahogany table… Can your handyman make four to six dinner chairs as well? And a couple of bar stools? It would look perfect at my new place!

    See you in a few weeks, Cebu!

    Jul 29, 2014 | 2:41 pm

  53. shiko-chan says:

    Gorgeous! Keep leading the way Mr. MM!

    And it looks like your in-house carpenter would have a wonderful career ahead of him if he so chose. I for one would love such a no-nonsense yet elegant piece of furniture in my life.

    Jul 29, 2014 | 7:07 pm

  54. Edwin says:

    Congrats MM and cheers for the Universal Design/Accessibility compliance. Would visit one day.

    Jul 29, 2014 | 7:56 pm

  55. shane says:

    Congratulations MM & Crew!!! the most that got my attention, well second only to the lechon, were the handcrafted bags…and i was smiling while reading the part about our local contractors…ingenious…though from the looks of it they’ve had a lot of practice already… :)

    Jul 30, 2014 | 10:12 am

  56. Esquire says:

    Congratulations mm!

    Count me interested in the mahogany table :)

    Jul 30, 2014 | 12:04 pm

  57. ragamuffin girl says:

    I’d buy that table too if available! :) Congratulations MM!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 2:20 pm

  58. Cat says:

    Congratulations! Ang ganda :)

    Jul 30, 2014 | 2:26 pm

  59. wendy says:

    BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations MM I know it’s going to do good hope to visit the new place soon. How soon in Manila…..please!!!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 9:47 am

  60. odessa says:

    Congratulations MM and Team Zubuchon!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 12:22 pm

  61. Leila says:

    I love the decor. hope to visit this place on our high school reunion next year. do we need reservations if there’s more than 10 of us? Thanks MM.

    Jul 31, 2014 | 8:25 pm

  62. Marketman says:

    Leila, no, reservations shouldn’t be necessary. It’s busy right now, but perhaps because it’s the new kid on the block… but it should settle down in a couple of months… Wendy, still working on that, it’s a while away… Thanks all for your kinds comments!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 9:00 pm

  63. Corrine says:

    Congrats MM. Excited to go to Cebu soon!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 10:12 pm

  64. AM says:

    Ahhh, Cebu will definitely be one of the places on the list when we go home to the Philippines. Even if it’s just to hang out at your restaurant and taste the offerings, I think it will be well worth it. Congratulations and more success to you!!!

    Aug 1, 2014 | 5:30 am

  65. Mrs. Kolca says:

    I will be there one day! Boy, I miss the taste of the best pig.. ever!!

    Aug 3, 2014 | 5:13 pm

  66. Rochelle says:

    Finally MM, a ZUBUCHON/ZUBUDAGAT near the airport! when we went home in December, our flight arrived from Korea at 1am! we have to wait for the local flight desk to open at 3am before we are allowed into the passenger lounge where all the food are, including Zubuchon. coming from London, and had only the plane meal, we were ravenously hungry! and if we wanted a good meal, we have to travel all the way to the main city which we were not prepared to do as we have a 2 month old baby. It’s comforting to know you are open 24hrs too!

    Aug 4, 2014 | 9:38 pm

  67. Lava Bien says:

    Very nice, keep doing what you guys are doing. Upping the standard is good in my book. Good looking place attracts good looking things.

    Aug 5, 2014 | 5:02 am

  68. Betchay says:

    Congratulations!!! Love the anthurium arrangement! The color red is not only festive but stimulate the appetite. Hope to visit Cebu again and try Zubudagat!

    Aug 6, 2014 | 4:10 pm

  69. Marie says:

    So Beautiful! Hoping for a Manila /Quezon City branch!

    Aug 7, 2014 | 1:03 pm

  70. ykmd says:

    Awesome! Love the colors and the clean lines. I so want to hop on a plane to Cebu right now :) That will be our first stop next time we go there, for sure! Looking forwrard to your kinilaw. MM, I still get hungry whenever I recall the sisig-stuffed squid at zubuchon!

    Aug 8, 2014 | 12:47 pm

  71. bingbing says:

    I am interested in the bags i saw in Zubuchon Marina in Mactan. Very nice but I was wondering if they were plastic? Can you tell me what the bags which were orange, light blue checkered, white, cream checkered and brown are made of? The prices varied from P1500 to P2500. Thanks

    Aug 20, 2014 | 2:39 pm

  72. bingbing says:

    The sales lady said fiber but they really felt like plastic. Pls let me know>

    Aug 20, 2014 | 2:40 pm

  73. Marketman says:

    bingbing, the saleslady was incorrect. They are a special kind of highly durable plastic, the material is imported but the weaving is done the traditional way, locally. They are usually made for export, but the manufacturer allowed us to sell several of their styles at the Marina store. Personally, I love them. I have had two enormous baskets that I use for the marketing on Saturdays, and they have lasted 3 years so far carrying weight of up to 30+ kilos. They are durable, washable, and if you must, recyclable. The bigger baskets are great for laundry, the smaller ones for the beach or picnics, and the even smaller ones for carting around town. Our prices are half or a third retail in some snazzier foreign shops… they range from PHP980 to roughly PHP2,500. Thanks for asking.

    Aug 20, 2014 | 6:22 pm

  74. Patrick says:

    Dear MM,

    Please bring Zubochon to Manila. Please.


    Oct 9, 2014 | 5:44 pm

  75. britelite says:

    i just came from Cebu and ordered boneless lechon with rice..can I suggest that instead of styro rectangle base over the printed wax/paper –why dont you use a base made of cardboard so that its environmental friendly? my two cents..

    Nov 30, 2014 | 9:14 pm


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