Restaurants / Bars

Try This: The Shipyard’s Killer Isaw and Doner Wraps, the Perfect Foil to a Night Out in Malate

July 14, 2017

The venerable district of Malate, Manila, is one with a rich past—young restaurateur Daniel Mabanta would know, having spent the first few years of his life in the area. “Malate was more happening in general, more of a destination,” he relays. And though he was too young at the time to have experienced it firsthand, his dad would refer to it as the “night life capital” of Manila. “There were cooler restaurants and bars . . . it was cleaner and more happening. Not run down like it is now,” he shares. “It motivated us . . . we wanted to sort of contribute to the resurgence here.” As a friend of his approached him and offered an empty lot along the district’s own Bocobo street, it would become the right opportunity to fulfill this goal.

It’s sad to see [Malate’s] pretty much been neglected . . . so we wanna help make it cool again. We want this to be a resurgence in Malate [and] the whole of Manila . . . to bring back some of its former glory.

Inspired by container parks Mabanta would frequently come across in his travels abroad, Shipyard makes use of recycled shipping containers which serve as its rooms. Alternatively, diners can choose any of the seats outside, which provide an intimate view of the burly street of Bocobo as customers (many of them students or backpackers, Mabanta shares) pour in and the scene comes alive.

Come hungry—you’ll want to feast on this killer plate of crispy pata and chicken sisig, the perfect partners for an ice-cold bottle of beer.

While Shipyard carries similarities in structure and atmosphere to the ever-popular food parks of this era (“[like with food parks], we [also] want people to hang out, drink and lounge”), Mabanta clarifies that Shipyard is still, at its core, a restaurant—one with different sections of the menu that nevertheless make up a cohesive whole.

Don’t come expecting anything fancy-schmancy—for the most part, Shipyard delivers no-frills, tried-and-tested fare, done well, and at reasonable prices. By no means does this make for a compromise however, as it makes for exactly the right foil for long nights out with friends and compadres. “We want to provide a fully democratic street food experience in a cool environment,” stresses Mabanta.

Torn between Southern-style chicken tenders and fries, or Filipino pulutan classic tokwa’t baboy? Shipyard lets you have the best of both worlds.

Filipino pulutan fare comes well-represented, with classics such as crispy pata, sisig, and tokwa’t baboy—plus street food favorites that include squidballs, kwek kwek, and the grilled skewers of offal known as “pinoy BBQ”. “It’s straightforward pinoy pulutan . . . [which] a lot of people here want,” shares Mabanta. There’s plenty of beer to go around (ranging from everybody’s favorite San Mig to Brew Kettle, Smirnoff Mule, and Corona), as are cocktails like a good ol’ margarita and mojito.

The “stall” dubbed East London Kebab and Burger pays ode to Mabanta’s experiences living in the eponymous part of London, a “multicultural society . . . with a lot of Middle Eastern people,” Mabanta shares. Kebab houses are hence a popular sight in the area, with mounds of meat (chicken, in this case) slowly spit-roasted to an aromatic golden brown, waiting to be sliced and stuffed into pita bread.

Bernie’s Southern Fried is a spin-off of Mabanta’s other chicken-centric venture, Señor Pollo. Should you crave the crisp, juicy goodness the said restaurant is known for when in the Malate area, you know where to go.

On the other side is Bernie’s Southern Fried, which specializes in—you guessed it—fried chicken. Named after Bernie Sanders (“we like Bernie,” quips Mabanta) and a spin-off of Mabanta’s other venture Señor Pollo, you’ll find numerous variations on the Southern-style fried poultry: as made-for-sharing hot wings or tenders; as straight-up pieces of breast or thigh, either regular or spicy, paired with sides like mac n’ cheese or spicy rice; or chopped, tossed with chili, and served on a sizzling plate as chicken sisig.

Here are some of our favorites:

Pinoy bbq platter

These smoky sticks of the popular street snack can be had with either vinegar, as is classic, or with their homemade chili sauce for a fiery kick.

Nothing screams pulutan quite like these grilled skewers of offal. Shipyard delivers a more or less classic iteration of the classic street snack—though one on the less-sweet side compared to other versions (“I’m more a savory person,” shares Mabanta). Feast on sticks of chicken and pork intestines, liver, gizzard, and ass served straight off the grill, waiting to be dunked into vinegar.

Chicken Doner Wrap

Stuffed to the brim with chicken, fries, and toum, there’s no skimping on this one.

Doner kebabs—handheld wraps-cum-sandwiches with slices of meat, along with vegetables, sauces or other fillings, stuffed into a flatbread of sorts (e.g., a pita)—are popular takeout fare (and post-pub munchies) in the eponymous part of London. You’ll find chicken strips on this one, its edges bearing a slight char, some lettuce for crunch, and french fries (a kebab variation especially popular in the area), smothered with a tangy garlicky sauce known as toum. It’s heavy, for sure—just the thing you need to fill yourself up before another round of beer. Should you need to spice things up however, heat can be had with a few lashings of their homemade chili sauce served on the side, made with local peppers.

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She is a cheapskate in other aspects of her life, preferring to use her savings on specialty vinegars and degustation menus. While she admits to eating out too much, cooking and baking remain her first love, and she's always looking for quirky new ways to use up seasonal produce. Thanks to her obsession with (unnecessarily) making everything from scratch, she is now desperate to clear her fridge full of homemade condiments. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.
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