Thursday, October 6, 2016

DINING | Let's get messy at Mando's Wing Shack

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It's no secret that the Poblacion area of Makati is fast becoming a foodie's haven, what with the steadily growing number of food haunts in this part of the city. While most of these restaurants are concentrated around the Burgos area, we're starting to see establishments spill over onto nearby locales.

One of these is Mando's Wing Shack, which popped up on a rather quiet residential area near the Makati City Hall. Because it's very near our place, I've been here three times already, so I decided to write about it.

Design and ambiance
Mando's is essentially a residential abode turned food joint. Sandwiched between two houses, its gate has been repurposed into a restaurant sign. A boulder holds it back and prevents it from slamming the establishment shut. It's still a fully functional gate, though.

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The gate doubles as the restaurant's sign.

The place is a small and unassuming. There's a porch area with available seating right upon entering, and the main dining, which is an air-conditioned enclosure bathed primarily in yellow light. Galvanized iron sheets painted in red and accented with black and white renditions of a chef tossing chicken wings and burgers (could it be Mando?) line up the entire length of one side of the room.

There's another accent wall behind the counter, this one painted black, against which the restaurant's lit up logo is mounted. The rest of the walls are in white, adorned with framed letterings of witty revisions of popular acronyms and catchphrases, like FTW (For the wings) and WTF (Where's the food?), among others.

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Come on in and let's have some wings.

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Where WTF is no longer an acronym for cursing.

Tables and seats are all of the same design and light wood. Because it's such a small space, I reckon they'd be hard-pressed to accommodate large groups. Otherwise, you'd be fine.

The food
Mando's has a limited menu, which I'm cool with. Not surprisingly, it's dominated by different variations of chicken wings. They also serve burger, tacos, nachos, and fries, among others. Drinks are essentially just beer and soda.

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A sampling of Mando's wings: G-Parm on the left and salted egg on the right, both with aioli dip.

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Bimchi Fries. Looks messy, I know.

On our first visit we got a full order of wings (Php 300): half G-Parm, half Salted Egg, and with an aioli dip. A full order is about a dozen pieces, and you're allowed to choose two sauces and one dip. G-Parm was a dry coating of batter and parmesan cheese, while the other was a smothering of salted egg sauce.

The wings were okay. The meat lacked tenderness in my opinion, and absorbed little of the sauces's flavors. Between the two, however, I'd pick the salted egg anytime, as it packs more flavor than the G-Parm. (On a different occasion I tried Pacific Asian, where the wings were coated in a typical oriental sweet and savory sauce. I wish it had a bit more spice, though. Still, my money is on the salted egg.)

We also tried their Bimchi Fries (Php 160), which was literally a mess: beef bulgogi, kimchi, mayo, bulgogi sauce, and cheese sauce all dumped on a bed of french fries. It wasn't my favorite, although I don't know how Korean food lovers would find it.

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The Mando Burger.

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How much messier can you get? Banana S'mores Split for dessert.

One time I skipped the wings and ordered The Mando Burger, which was served with french fries (Php 185). It's not one of those burgers with humongous patties, so to me the serving was just about right in size. It may not be the best burger in town but I liked it for what it is. Never mind that the burger was oozing with cheese sauce because yeah, they do like to keep things messy around here.

As for desserts, there are only two options. I ordered their Banana S'mores Split (Php 130) one time and another messy plate arrived at my table. This dessert is essentially a deconstructed version of s'mores (crushed graham, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate syrup) mashed up with banana split (caramelized banana and a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

It is by far their messiest dish yet, bordering on unappetizing. But surprise, I liked it! True to the dish's description, the marshmallows were indeed toasted, which afforded them a lovably gooey consistency. I think they used a blow torch because the layer of caramelized sugar atop the banana slices were extra thin and crunchy. Looks can be deceiving indeed.

Here's a look at the Mando's Wingshack menu:

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Expect basic but still good waiting service here. And since the place is so small, getting the waitstaff's attention shouldn't be a problem.

The kitchen isn't so fast in churning out orders even if the place is not packed, so a little patience is necessary. Took them a while to prepare my dessert but they're much faster when it comes to wings.

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In hindisght
At its core, Mando's Wing Shack offers a more quiet and relaxed alternative to the busier food haunts of Poblacion, and where getting messy is most welcome. Their wings may not be to-die-for but they're pretty decent in their own right, not to mention reasonably priced. So if you want a no-frills quick fill, and perhaps even a few swigs of beer, then Mando's could be the place for you. Or an option at least.

Mando's Wing Shack is located at 1158 Antipolo Street in Makati, near the City Hall. It opens around noon and closes at around 10:30 or 11 in the evening.

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