MANILA -- “People couldn’t believe I owned a bike shop, so I put up a food business,” jokes Alfred Sibal of Lolo Alfred Sibal’s Premium Foods.
Lechon was a mainstay at annual family gatherings since Sibal was a teenager. Years later when he had his own family, he was disappointed with a lot of the lechon he bought. Not only was the skin not crunchy, it was rubbery and chewy.
It was then that Sibal experimented with his own version with a Visayan twist. He used lemongrass and his own secret spices to make his lechon belly more flavorful. But what he was after was the crispy skin from the lechon of his childhood.
“After hundreds of kilos of pork, I was finally able to develop lechon whose skin is still crunchy after six to 12 hours,” proudly says Sibal.
At first, this special lechon belly was a secret treat for personal consumption by family and friends. Sibal started giving these away as gifts to friends from church and close friends who are celebrating their birthdays. The recipients then suggested that he make a business out of it.
Back then, he was still busy managing his premiere bicycle shop, Hope Cycles. That Christmas season, orders for the lechon belly just came pouring in. The lechon belly continues to be the centerpiece of Sibal’s menu.
The menu has expanded to include lemongrass roast chicken, which was requested by a friend who didn’t eat pork and was looking for healthier fare. Sibal also makes his own Hungarian sausage and a garlic sausage that’s similar to the Vigan longganisa.
His latest offering is his foil-packed Liempo Chips. These are deep-fried pork cut up to crispy bite-size pieces that can be brought anywhere as a snack.
Other items that can be ordered with the mains are tapsilog with home cured tapa and Sibal’s own version of laing.
This year, Alfred Sibal is concentrating on building a commissary for Sibal’s Fine Foods. He is also looking to expand to other parts of Manila looking for locations down south.
When he does find a location, he wants to have both a Hope Cycles branch and Sibal’s Fine Foods side by side.
In Lolo Alfred’s mind, cycling and food will always go together.
For orders and the full menu, please visit the Sibal’s Fine Foods Facebook page.