Bucky’s: Maturity at its FinestSeptember 21, 2016
Bucky’s has just opened their second branch in the heart of Poblacion and it comes with not only a new space, but also a new vibe, and a fledgling individualism from its Aguirre counterpart. It’s been a year long wait for Miguel Vargas, but the fruit of the team’s efforts is a place that is comforting, familiar, and exciting. It possesses the same playfulness that the original Bucky’s had upon its inception, but also a wholeness; proving that maturity can look good on a brand that started out as a Christmas experiment.
Vargas, like his brand, exudes a playfulness and a faint sense of rebellion. It’s carefree the way he walks and talks, in the way he converses with this enlivened energy. It’s welcoming, and if Bucky’s is anything, it’s just that. But beyond this is a man dedicated to his product and his business. One who works to make his brand better, and true to form that’s what he did with this branch.
What Vargas and his wife, Raisa, agreed upon was that no Bucky’s would be the same. He didn’t want to it to become a chain—each new Bucky’s required its own character. This resulted in the introduction of simple, yet exquisitely executed, cooked meals. Something they could not do in their first branch, mostly because they were located right next to a dress shop, and it would have been a disaster on many, many levels.
And what is admirable about this move was that Vargas knew where his talents lied, and one of these was not running a kitchen. This is why he looked to his childhood friend and seasoned chef Justin Golangco. Having just settled back into the Philippines, Vargas asked Golangco to come aboard as a consultant for the menu conceptualization, but he eventually grew with the team and now serves as its head chef.
The result is a short and tight menu that attempts to cover all your bases, while also being a nostalgia run for those used to having fried chicken, pasta, and grilled cheese during their childhood. It’s short, but as Golangco also notes, it’s also constantly changing. He didn’t want things to stagnate, he didn’t want his team to get bored, so he is constantly coming up with different things to include, adding and subtracting as needed. He keeps the menu organic, keeps it alive.
And the results show in a menu that is just straight up good food. A testament to this is the baked Ziti, which Golangco swears he can consume every day, and, honestly, we would as well. It’s a bowl of flavors that were done well, ragu well-rounded and meaty with the right amount of heft, a good handful of cheese, and a nice bake from the oven, and we’re hooked. Other childhood favorites like the universally loved grilled cheese comes out well-constructed, served with a pot of tomato sauce that provides the perfect amount of brightness to contrast the cheese. A boneless thigh of a fried chicken with a loud, peppery gravy just hits all the right notes of nostalgia.
On the side of the desserts there’s the Buckygato, a play on the affogato, theirs is served with the signature milk soft serve, and a piece of Bucky’s stuffed at the bottom. We also appreciate their signature latte, for reasons beyond its light and balanced flavor. You can also choose to go Make Your Own Bucky’s (MYOB) adding your preferred toppings on your choice of Bucky variant.
They also have the Badi Bowl, a sweet, tart yogurt and fruit puree topped with shaved coconut, chia seeds, rice crisps, pistachios, and dragonfruit. A lighter option from all the very rich fare that they serve.
But beyond the fantastic food is a brand that is constantly renewing itself and making itself better. Vargas is still settling with the new branch, but there is still long ways to go. When I asked him about his success and what Bucky’s has become, he just shrugs it off with a, “I’m just trying.” And what makes his success so palpable, really, is his reliance on his team. There is a deep appreciation to the people around him and the product they’ve produced. And with the way things are going it’s not highly unlikely to see another Bucky’s popping up sometime soon, one we can look forward to—one injected with a different energy. Because if Vargas and his team has shown us anything, it’s that they’re never lacking in character.
Miguel Vargas’ second installment of his Bucky’s in Poblacion with a mature approach to comfort food.
Address: 5666 Don Pedro st., Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City.
Contact: 0917 844 5104
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