Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Awesome Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen

Three amazing lechons. Five hours of pure pork bliss. Dinner with an amazing family. And an international chef and Food Network TV host. Awesome. 

And that's exactly how dinner went last Tuesday. I've heard stories about Dedet de la Fuente Santos' Pepita's Kitchen, and her famous, near legendary Lechon Degustacion dinners held in their family home. And when I received a text about dinner at Pepita's Kitchen, I immediately confirmed. Definitely a no-brainer, not this one. Finally, I get to try Pepita's Kitchen's signature feast, all fourteen courses. And meet an international chef and Food Network TV host. All in one amazing evening. Perfect. 

As I entered Dedet de la Fuente Santos' lovely home, the finishing touches were arranged on the dining table. Immediately, I could sense the lavish and grand scale of the dinner. And I just knew this was going to be epic.

Dining in a family home is always an experience, nothing compares with the warmth and comfort of a real home. And Dedet Santos' home is a perfect stage for Pepita's Kitchen's culinary masterpieces

And as the tables were set, I couldn't help but sneak out back for a quick peek at Pepita's Kitchen's famous lechons. The brick ovens were all fired up, it was just a matter of time...

Pepita's Kitchen's Lechon Degustacion included fourteen courses, from starters, three kinds of lechon, and desserts, as well as interesting palate cleansers in between. Going through the menu, there were no details about the kind of lechon de leche Dedet will be serving. And after hearing so many stories about her unique take on the traditional Filipino lechon and her inventive stuffings, my anticipation continues to go on overdrive. Pepita's Kitchen has successfully reinvented the traditional lechon by adding various stuffings and influences from various international cuisines to give it a unique and distinct taste. Imagine the usual lechon de leche that's a level up above the traditional Filipino fiesta favorite enhanced by new refreshing flavors. And yes, the Pinoy Lechon goes global. Finally.  

The evening's special guest, international chef, author and Food Network TV Host Anna Olson with husband Michael, also a chef. The host of the Food Network Canada's Fresh with Anna Olson, Sugar, Kitchen Equipped, and the current Bake with Anna Olson, the couple was here on an Asian Tour with the Asian Food Channel. And on the last night of their Manila leg, nothing like a lechon for a final taste of the Philippines. It's great that Manila is part of her tour, even better that I get to personally meet her over an amazing lechon degustacion. Now, how cool is that? 

The Lechon Degustacion starts with Pepita's Kitchen's Garlic Dulong and Pinoy Pate' made from balut (duck eggs). The Garlic Dulong has a refreshingly strong briny flavor that's perfect with the crackers, while the Pinoy Pate has a milder yet rich and comforting flavor. Familiar flavors, yet totally different and surprising,  definitely a new flavor experience. And the lechon degustacion is off to a great start...  

On the side, an interesting fresh baked bread shaped like a lechon de leche. Very cool. And yet again, Pepita's Kitchen surprises you with their inventive and playful approach. Oh, the bread was pretty awesome too...

A bell rings, signalling the arrival of one of Pepita's Kitchen's starters, the Balut Salpicao. The traditional duck egg, long a popular and iconic local street food favorite, is given a totally new flavor, sauteed in rich olive oils with loads of garlic. 

The rich olive oil further enhances the already rich balut, and the garlic gives it a nice note. Like many, I'm a wimp when it comes to eating the whole balut as I usually just take the yolk. But the Balut Salpicao was good, I hardly noticed the part I tried to avoid all these years. Yup, it's that good... 

The bell rings, and Dedet introduces a refreshing salad, Eto Naiba, which literally translates to "this is different." And different it truly was. Fresh mangoes added sweetness to the sweet and tart vinaigrette, just the right notes before the first of three lechons...

Dedet then rings the bell to announce that the first Lechon de Leche is ready...the moment everyone was waiting for. Pepita's Kitchen's Pinoy Lechon, stuffed with rice and sisig. Sisig and lechon, now that's a pretty awesome combo. 

The best way to enjoy this is get some tender meat, crisp skin and the sisig rice, and pure pork heaven is just a spoonful away. The rice is richly flavored by the lechon's juices and the spicy sisig. The richness and flavors  just blew me away. Seriously. And Dedet does not serve any sauce to go with her signature lechon de leche, nope, none of the usual sweet liver sauce. With lechon de leche this good, you simply don't need any sauce at all. And I go for seconds, knowing there's still two more lechon de leches to come. Forget pacing, this is really good stuff...

Dedet de la Fuente Santos and her youngest daughter join Michael and Anna Olson with the first of three lechon de leches, the Pinoy Lechon...

After the first Lechon de Leche, Dedet serves her signature Sabachara, sweet and sour pickled bananas. Refreshing and a nice palate cleanser, almost like a sweet and tart chutney. And Dedet rings the bell to announce the arrival of the second lechon de leche...and thing just keep getting better and better. 

Pepita's Kitchen's German Lechon, stuffed with whole garlic bulbs, herbs and marble potatoes. And as the lechon is carved, the room is filled with the subtle aroma of garlic and herbs. Dedet suggests getting the low cooked potatoes and garlic, mashing it in your plate, and take it together with a piece of tender pork or crispy skin. Absolutely perfect, my favorite so far. 

Like the first Pinoy Lechon, the tender, juicy pork and crisp skin are perfect. The garlic and herbs add a subtle yet distinct flavor dimension to the lechon. I've never tried lechon done this way, and I just absolutely loved it. And again I go for seconds, knowing there is still a third lechon on the way...

We were then served another palate cleanser, a cool and refreshing Calamansi Sorbet. The sweet and lightly sour local lime sorbet was just perfect to balance the richness of the German Lechon. Nice. 

The bell rings yet again, this time for the third and final lechon de leche, the French Lechon, as Michael and Anna Olson along with Dedet de la Fuente Santos and her eldest daughter Lileya pose by the lechon. I try to imagine what new stuffing and incredible flavors come with this final main dish...

...and soon enough, after you hear the crackle of the skin, the rich aromas fill the room. Pepita's Kitchen's French Lechon, filled with truffle rice stuffing.

The rich and almost nutty flavors of the truffle oil infused rice is perfect with the tender, juicy pork. At this point, choosing a favorite among the three lechons become really difficult. Really difficult.

I go for seconds and yes, thirds. It's simply that good. And I keep my hypertension meds ready, just in case. The Pinoy Lechon was was a great starter, with familiar flavors and a really nice spice. The German Lechon was totally new and refreshingly different. The French Lechon was rich and flavorful, a perfect closer for the lechon trifecta. Choosing just one, no way. Go all the way, go for all three...   

But there's more...Gayuma ni Pepita ("Pepita's Love Potion") were then served. A sweet butter beer-like beverage, another cool balance to the richness of the lechon feast. Dedet then proudly informs us that this is her eldest daughter Lileya's special concoction, another potentially successful product from Pepita's Kitchen. 

Happy and content, a toast with shots of Gayuma ni Pepita for an awesome dinner. But it ain't over just yet...

Pepita's Kitchen's Super Suman, sticky glutinous sweet rice cake topped with yemas, chocnut and other indulgent toppings. Another playful and inventive take on the traditional suman, and an awesome dessert to cap an awesome feast.

Playful yet elegantly plated, complete with the traditional banana leaf trimmings, a really cool dessert. I'd really like to live in this house...

A light dessert came next, Pepita's Kitchen's Bulacan's Pride, a sweet trio of candied calamansi, ube jam and yema. The different flavors and textures are a simply amazing, way too cool.

And to end the feast, Pepita's Kitchen's Cholesterol Sweeper,  a shot glass with oats topped with thick chocolate and milk. Perfect.

Awesome food, amazing people. Good food, good times.

Special thanks to Dedet de la Fuente Santos of Pepita's Kitchen, Spanky Enriquez, the Asian Food Channel and Michael and Anna Olson for an awesome evening.

Pepita's Kitchen also offers other lechon de leche variants, like the Christmas Lechon (stuffed wice, chestnuts, cashews and mushrooms), the Spanish Manilena Lechon (stuffed with Spanish chorizo and taba ng talangka paella), the Birthday Lechon (stuffed with Pancit Paranaque), and the Japanese Lechon (stuffed with Japanese curry rice) and many more. Pepita's Kitchen's Lechon Degustacion is definitely one experience I won't soon forget, just perfect to jumpstart the holiday season. And yes, I'll say it again. Awesome.

Pepita's Kitchen is located at 6 San Pablo Street, Magallanes Village, Makati. For orders and reservations, call 425-4605 or 0917-866-0662, or e-mail at You can also  check out Pepita's Kitchen's Facebook Page at

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  1. Dude everything looks awesome!!!! Truffle Oil and Lechon?!?!..WOW!!!

    1. hey Jay, awesome food, amazing people! And yup, truffle oil and lechon, seriously good. Great to hear from you bud!

  2. Replies
    1. hey mich, it was awesome, pure pork bliss...great to hear from you mich!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Angie, it definitely was a feast, great to hear from you Angie!

  4. Wow, it is awesome indeed! Lucky you to have degustacion with celebrities!

    1. Hi Marina, awesome food, amazing people! Great to hear from you Marina!

  5. Oh wow..what a dinner. And just any get to meet Anna Olson! Can you see my eyes are green right now? with envy?? If I'm there, I don't think I could eat a thing..just be there to meet her is enough to keep me full but then scrolling down and looking at all the superb food especially the pork, oh my..really temptations. Cool!

    1. Hi Jen, dinner was amazing, and meeting Anna Olson over dinner is just awesome! Great to hear from Jen!

  6. omg, you got me drooling here over that lechon! and i'm not even fond of lechon! the poor piglet looks roasted to perfection. and the balut pate and salpicao--wow, i don't eat balut but i'd love to try these 2 dishes. fabulous spread!

    1. Hi Luna, the balut dishes were great, definitely different and worth a try! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. First time I tasted Pepita's Lechon, I went to heaven. :) It was sinfully delicious!

    1. Hey Jenn, I agree 100%, that was an awesome experience! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Replies
    1. hey FTF, perfect for the holiday season! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. hi may i know how much per head of the degustacion meal? thanks

    1. Hi Mac, the lechon degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen costs roughly around P2,500 per head for a minimum of 10 to 12 people, you can contact Pepita's Kitchen directly at the numbers below the post. Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

  10. Hello Gerry! This is definitely the best dinner of the year for me, we had some really good stuffed lechon!! Their French Lechon was my favorite, primarily because I love truffle. I'm planning to do a degustacion for my birthday next year!

    Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen - Hefty Foodie


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