I like lechon (roasted pig) but I'm not a sucker for it. I've spent my entire college life in Cebu -- a place that probably every Filipino agrees is where you can find the best lechon -- and it had never been anything I'd crave. Nowadays, though, I've come to appreciate it, but only the Cebu variety.
While visiting family there just recently, we sort of went out of our way to check out this new Rico's Lechon branch designed by famed Cebu-based furniture designer Vito Selma. We didn't know where it was and so did our cab driver, who brought us to a different branch somewhere in Lahug instead. Unfortunately -- though which proved to be blessing in disguise -- they ran out of lechon. Unbelievable!
But then a restaurant staffer directed our driver to a new restaurant near Ayala Center Cebu. Bam! Tucked away in a small street behind the Infinity KTV Bar along Archbisop Reyes Ave, it was the branch we were hunting all along.
Most lechon places I know in Cebu are basic and unassuming, and Rico's Lechon Acacia is no exception -- this despite the Vito Selma association. What Selma has done, though, is elevate the customary Filipino native design aesthetic, resulting in a fresh new perspective on traditional.
The restaurant has both an air-conditioned indoor section and an open-air dining area. Rows of tables and chairs fill up the indoor space, with one side dedicated to diner-type seating arrangements, Pinoy style. The indoor section also houses another room that I believe is reserved for small functions, with blinds that can cover its glass panel walls. Meanwhile, the kitchen is in full view, which every diner will pass by when entering and leaving the restaurant.
A fresh take on native Filipino design is what I call it.
This is in the air-conditioned area of the restaurant.
Bamboo, rattan, and that barrio fiesta vibe are all still present here, but somehow the designer has found more creative ways of making use of these traditional materials and elements in spite of reportedly working with a tight budget.
Hence we see bamboo in ceiling beams, doors, partitions, and more impressively as a dining table base and lighting fixture. Oh, and that one; I like how the bamboo poles rise from the floor to support the glass of the table and how all this is counter-positioned with poles that drop from the ceiling, some of which are fitted with light bulbs. This is inside the special enclosed section.
The walls, on the other hand, are livened up by painted banana leaves that surprisingly don't look tacky at all. There are also painted murals inside the enclosed private dining section depicting traditional barrio fiesta scenes. Meanwhile, the floor is just polished gray concrete but painted with blue and green tile accents.
Diner-type seating, Pinoy style.
The outdoor section. Took the shot when they were already closing, hence the pile of throw pillows and whatnot.
The kitchen in full view.
The counter-positioning of bamboo poles rising from the floor and dropping from the ceiling. Beautiful!
Sorry for the light reflection on the glass but I hope this gives you a better angle of the bamboo poles supporting the table.
One of two really huge "beauty queen" chairs that were quite popular in the 70s. Kwittiegirl wants one at home.
Of course we also get to see a sampling of Vito Selma furniture here, like those two humongous "beauty queen" rattan chairs and that cute puso-shaped lounger (Puso, playfully translated as "hanging rice," refers to rice cooked inside a pouch made of woven young coconut leaves. It's quite popular in Cebu and in some parts of the Visayas).
Oh, I got lost in the design aspect and almost forgot about the food. The menu is pretty simple and straightforward, dominated by lechon, of course. Nevertheless, they also offer seafood, some veggies and noodles, fruit shakes, and a slew of Pinoy kakanin and desserts. As for the price, I find it inexpensive, or reasonable at most. (Click on the link to view the full Rico's Lechon Acacia menu.)
But we were here for the lechon and ordered just that, plus a sinigang variety (lechon in tamarind soup). I wanted to taste their spicy lechon but chickened out when the waiter said it was quite spicy. Besides, I'm not a huge chili fan anyway.
No surprise, the lechon was good; the meat was tender and full of flavor, and the skin, perfectly crispy. It's also cute how they serve rice here -- in tiny iron pots Filipinos refer to as kaldero.
Death by lechon. Look at those cute little pots.
Utensils and condiments are readily available on every table, though we're reminded by the sign on the bottle:
It means eating with your hands is best. Only Pinoys can relate, I guess.
Clad in cute yellow Filipino costumes, the waitstaff here were all nice and efficient. Service was fairly quick, too.
Surely, if you love lechon and have a penchant for traditional Filipino design, then Rico's Lechon Acacia will most certainly delight you. Apart from the refreshing interiors, the food is good and reasonably priced, plus the service is good.
The puso-shaped lounge chair. Now how cute is that!
Rico's Lechon Acacia is located along Acacia Street. It's the street behind the Infinity KTV Bar along Archbishop Reyes Ave. near Ayala Center Cebu.
Tel. No. +63 32 2310958