The Mabanta family is unstoppable. Whether working alone or together, the restaurateurs’ concepts continue to please the fickle foodie that has risen from Manila’s culinary culture. Whether it’s in the form of Bianca Mabanta’s vegan-for-non-vegans passion project Susi, or Daniel Mabanta’s little Latin American behemoth Señor Pollo, everyone seems to be flocking to what the Mabantas are serving up. What they’re most known for, of course, will be reviving the once-shunned Burgos area into the hip place it is now, effervescent and brimming with late-night hotspots.
Their latest foray that reaffirms their dominant presence in Poblacion, is Dixie Mabanta’s brainchild. Crying Tiger, located on Guanzon Street just a little way away from A.Venue Mall, is a street kitchen inspired by Southeast Asia. It is as true to form as it gets, down to the cheap floral plastic plates, and Thai memorabilia randomly strewn about. It looks as if it would be home anywhere on Khao San Road, the backpacking district in Bangkok where temporary travellers get the best and cheapest street food in the city. At the moment, Crying Tiger is just shy of a week old, so their menu is succinct. However, it is also incredibly cheap, and serious value for money for the experience you’re getting.
There are Indonesian, Thai, and Malaysian favourites and favourites inspired by those cuisines—Malaysian wings, spicy seafood noodles or mee goreng, Thai fried chicken, moo ping or Thai bbq, and two omelettes, one plain and one filled with pork, but both served atop rice. If you’re eating for two and not drinking, you can easily spend under 300 or 200 bucks, which is almost a miracle in Makati. Booze is great too, with shots of Hendrick’s and other high-end liquors coming at 120 bucks and bottles of Chang and Tiger at bay. Goodbye fancy bars, I’ll have my gin and tonic here, thanks!
The food is still in its developmental stages, but that doesn’t mean it is not good. The Mabantas know how to operate their restaurants, and serving a limited but delicious menu means that they can slowly ease themselves into service and operations, while still appeasing their customers. Moo Ping (PHP 25 per stick) is seriously tender, marinated in condensed milk for sweetness, with a bit of char on the edges to round the whole thing off with a tinge of burnt bitterness. It is as close to the real thing as you can get. The spicy seafood noodles are as advertised, and as a fiend for all things with a kick, I was glad that the mee goreng did not hold back. It is also a mammoth serving, good enough for two, and does well with the addition of sweet soy and a squeeze of lime or calamansi. Thai fried chicken was an instant favorite, displaying their expertise with the stuff (Señor Pollo’s fried chicken is some of the best in the Metro), with a crisp coating that is salty, spiced, and covered with fried garlic. The most stellar thing at Crying Tiger is that sour dipping sauce, made into a slurry with chopped lemongrass and onion. I pour it over everything—omelette, chicken, bbq, and it makes you want to eat so much more.
What I admire about the Mabantas is they know exactly what kind of brand they are, and never over-promise, meaning they’ll never under-deliver. It’s a drinking joint, with food that is done supremely well for the price point. That’s all you need these days really, amongst all the overwrought, poorly-executed concepts out there.
Have you paid a visit to Crying Tiger? What did you think of your meal? Tell us your thoughts with a comment below!
This review was conducted solely by the author, who did not accept any form of cash advertising, invitation, sponsorship or payment. It was paid for by the author or Pepper.ph, and the views represented are purely the writer’s own. It is based on one anonymous visit to the restaurant.
Crying Tiger Street Kitchen
Address: P. Guanzon St., Makati
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