MANILA -- “This is not your typical chicken and gravy,” boasted Linfred Yap, one of the owners of Birdhouse, a homegrown chicken concept opening on Thursday in the new Uptown Mall in Taguig.
From the same group that brought Osaka Ohsho and Kumori Bakeshop, Birdhouse is part country, part Asian, and fully about chicken.
Fitting right in the hipster-cool vibe of the mall’s food court, the Birdhouse brand embraces country meets vintage meets youth. Country touches like roosters, hay, to birdhouses mounted on a wall blend well with vintage elements like enamel cookware/serving ware, wood elements, and old-school knickknacks. Touches like modern lighting to the font of the brand’s logo, meanwhile, give it a youthful vibe, in keeping with the modern ambience of the mall’s food court.
“We tapped Francis Lim (Tipple and Slaw, Nav) to create a menu for the Birdhouse. He brings a modernity to the concept,” explained Yap.
With the limited kitchen space in the food court, the shop serves chicken in three ways – chicken tenders, fried chicken, and stuffed fillet in a sandwich.
Easy-access chicken, as I like to call these, I’ve always preferred tenders to regular fried chicken. Birdhouse’s version came with a lightly salty crisp breading, while the fried chicken had a more pronounced black pepper taste in its breading. Both had juicy and flavorful meat, having been brined before frying.
The chicken tenders and the fried chicken can be enjoyed with various sauces including the more familiar milk gravy and garlic ranch, to more interesting sauce variants.
For those that like it sweet, try the Peach BBQ sauce. Or for those that that like a bit of cheesy umami, herbs, and sourness to their sauce, why not try their modern interpretation to the '80s dressing, Green Goddess?
Meanwhile, celebrating the ingredient du jour of the moment, Birdhouse’s Salted Egg Lava Chicken Sandwich features a salted egg yolk stuffed chicken fillet in its center.
Inside, the bright orange “lava” color with the crispy breading contrasts nicely with the dark and soft squid ink tinted brioche both in color and in texture. Surprisingly, the salted egg yolk doesn’t overwhelm the fillet and just adds a light salted egg taste.
Underneath the fillet is mayonnaise with the whites of the salted egg adding acidity, creaminess, and saltiness, while a pickle and sautéed onion relish rounds it all out for an acidic-sweet balance.
Birdhouse also offers side dishes to their chicken, including Korean gochujang-tinged coleslaw, classic mac and cheese, dirty rice, to sure-fire bestsellers like the Elote corn (grilled corn, sour cream and cheese), and the garlic fries (crispy fries with raw garlic and herbs).
With the influx of foreign concepts, it’s always refreshing to taste something new that’s homegrown. Birdhouse is a welcome addition especially to food courts in Manila, and as long as they maintain the same quality that we got to taste during the preview, the concept should win fans as soon as they open.