Andok's vs. Rico's Litson Baka: Which One Is Better?

Who's the Winner of the Litson Baka War?

If you're on social media, you've probably heard about Andok's Litson Baka You've probably even tasted it already. With Andok's latest product sweeping the nation, Rico's Lechon has stepped up to the plate to get a slice of the pie. Now, the big question is, which one is better? If you could just choose one of the two, which one would you choose? Hopefully, that scenario won't happen, but in the unlikely case it does, we taste-tested both to help you choose which one is the better choice for you.

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In this review, we'll be giving you an extremely detailed examination of which of the two restaurants got it right in terms of availability, price, vinegar, and flavor. By the end of this article, you won't find the best Lechon Baka in the world, but you'll find the perfect Lechon Baka that best suits you.

In general, you should support both brands if you can. Fostering healthy competition is good for the economy and the industry. More importantly, when food brands are competing, food is more delicious.

Let the Lechon Baka war begin.

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Availability

For both Rico's and Andok's, ordering straight on Foodpanda and GrabFood is out of the question. For both cases, the most convenient way is to simply order via Grab Pabili. Thankfully, most Grab drivers also have Gcash so if you're cashless like me, you can still easily pay them once they deliver.

However, Andok's has to win this round. Metro Manila has a plethora of Andok's but Rico's only has a few restaurants in the Metro. More restaurants mean wider availability. But what put Andok's a notch higher is my personal experience.

My first Grab Pabili order from Rico's BGC branch was a bit of a downer as they already ran out of the original Lechon Baka. I had to book another trip to the Tiendesitas branch to get a sample of the original which cost me more for the delivery fee, being farther from my home.

Verdict: Andok's but it could just be my bad luck.

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Photo by Jasper Castro
Photo by Jasper Castro
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Pricing

Both Andok's and Rico's priced their Lechon Baka at PHP 350. To avoid bias, I measured the servings with a digital weighing scale to get a clear number on the serving size. Andok's clocked in at exactly 240 grams. Rico's, on the other hand, landed at 223 grams. The 17-gram difference is negligible but Andok's on-the-dot number promises a consistent amount of beef each time you order. 

Verdict: Andok's by a margin.

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Vinegar

You have two extremely different kinds of vinegar that taste and function quite differently.

Rico's vinegar is from the same bottled vinegar they sell called "sukalami." It's a flavored Cebuano vinegar with a clean taste. As with eating oily food, this vinegar would do the perfect job of cutting the oiliness. If you're looking for vinegar that will quietly complement the beef, then Rico's is for you.

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However, if you want a flavorful, transformative vinegar, then Andok's spicy red vinegar with freshly sliced onions floating about would be the winner. Dipping your beef in vinegar transforms the flavor with heat and fruity piquancy. This effectively cuts the oiliness of the dish, and also gives Andok's Lechon Baka a fresh new flavor that'll keep you from getting umay.

Verdict: Andok's

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Overall Taste

Now, the most important segment: taste. It would be moot, however, to declare a universal winner. Everyone's tastebuds are a little different. Just think about the clear divide between pineapple on pizza lovers, coriander haters, and even vegemite eaters. One dish that's too sweet for one person can be bland to another.

We further break it down to answering this question: What are you looking for in your Lechon Baka? Depending on your answer, you'll find the perfect Lechon Baka for you.

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Answer 1: Lechon Baka needs complex flavors.

Do you appreciate food pairings? Do you have a knack for identifying spices? Are you passionate about "smoke" in your whiskey, your dried fish, or your slow-cooked bacon? Do you particularly love food that's fragrant, distinct, and hits a one-two punch upon hitting the palate? Then Andok's Litson Baka is made for you.

Upon unwrapping the foil, it unleashes that distinct, delicious, woodsy aroma. Andok's is right up there with Jollibee and Auntie Anne's as one of those places with a beguiling aroma that wafts over you from a 20-feet radius. Their Litson Baka is no different.

It's not just the scent, of course. The moment it touches your mouth, it all clicks in your head: you get it point-blank why people love it. It's perfectly seasoned and bursting with the flavors of the smoke and Andok's signature spice mix. While warm, it's perfectly tender, too, thinly sliced, with a great ratio of fat and meat. If you've grown up eating at Andok's, you'll probably even appreciate it more because it tastes like your childhood. It's a dependable flavor that's been with you for years.

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However, what makes Andok's Lechon Baka so great can also be its downfall.

In my personal experience, upon tasting both side-by-side, I was so sure at first that Andok's was the clear definitive winner. As I ate more of each though, and Rico's Lechon ran out quicker, I wondered, "what happened?"

If you eat enough of the same great thing, it starts to lose its charm.

If you've eaten Andok's for most of your life, by now, it's probably lost its novelty. As great as it is, the spice mix is just not that new. Even with the vinegar magically transforming it, you're still left with the same, familiar aftertaste that lingers in your mouth. On top of that, it's such a big strong flavor, that it borders on trumping over the flavor of beef. Without beef's flavor taking center stage, Andok's Litson Baka starts to taste a bit too similar to the chicken and pork variants. Don't forget as well, that they probably roast the pork, chicken, and beef in the same oven. This means that the flavors can get muddled up together.

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Suddenly, as delicious as it is, the nostalgia factor somehow makes it a wee less special. It's still good, but it certainly leaves room for the contender to have a fighting chance.

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Answer 2: Lechon Baka should be distinctly different from Lechon Baboy.

Do you like clean, clear flavors? Do you think Din Tai Fung's dumplings are perfectly seasoned and not bland? You might even be snobbish towards fast food and junk food in general. You probably love sashimi (unless you have a seafood allergy) because of its singular, crystal clear, flavor profile.

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Enter Rico's hand-carved Lechon Baka whose beef flavor reigns supreme. There are not many bells and whistles for this dish. Even the vinegar is uncluttered. Instead, you get something very akin to a classic roast beef but a tad bit fattier. You can probably even pair it with Mint Jelly. If you take a sniff at it, no spice or smoky smell is asking for attention. You can even say that upon your first few bites that even with the mellow, savory core flavor of beef, it's a tad bit bland.

But here's the thing with "bland" flavors compared to "strong" ones. Bland flavors are much, much easier to fix with just a pinch of salt.

SALT. If there's one thing you need to pick up from this story, it's this. Salt brings to life those mellow flavors only a good, slow roasting can develop. With just the tiniest sprinkle of salt, you'll find yourself munching on an umami bomb. Who cares about the vinegar? Perfectly cooked beef is an art to behold.

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Overall Verdict: They're both winners. If you're looking for a nostalgic treat with a twist, go for Andok's. If you're looking to celebrate beef at its purest, Rico's Lechon Baka is the answer.

Which Lechon Baka would I order if I can only choose one?

Unless you have an extreme aversion to all things spicy, Rico's spicy variant is a winner by miles. You can even say that it tastes more like "Lechon" because of the chili's distinct, Filipino, slightly piquant subtle flavor. Plus, the heat is just the perfect level that most people can tolerate. We're crediting the additional chili spice mix that gives this variant a more tender bite as well. Most importantly though, it's that same chili spice mix's salt content that makes it a winner. No edits required, Rico's Lechon Baka Spicy is perfect from the get-go.

Verdict: The darkhorse, Rico's Lechon Baka Spicy flavor. 

At the end of the day though, you can't go wrong. Why choose one? Why? Have both, on the same day, or on different days. Why not? We're all winners here. Just make sure your blood pressure can handle it.

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