Is Army Navy’s Coco Hut Fried Chicken and Fish Set to Be the Next Big Chain?August 23, 2019
- Pamela CortezWords
As far as local fast food joints in Manila go, Army Navy has managed to maintain the consistency of it’s quality. Maybe it’s because in spite of being a chain, its expansion has remained somewhat limited; rather than expanding too much too quickly, the chain insists on maintaining its standard. The latest concept from the innovative group, which opened not too long ago in Commercenter, Filinvest, is the new Coco Hut Fried Chicken and Fish, which in its infancy, has all the potential to become just as successful as Army Navy has been.
Decorated like an island hut, the branding is a little confusing. At first glance, it seems like this place could be dedicated to Hawaiian food, a cross-cultural concept just like Army Navy. Instead, the eponymous Coco Hut is more likely to be the native nipa hut, as the menu has Filipino influences all over it. The Filipino influence, instead of being incredibly in your face, is definitely subtler—no straightforward Red Ribbon palabok or Goldilocks dinuguan. Instead, it sticks to the tried and tested formula of good old fried stuff, then lending it just enough of a Filipino kick.
Coco Hut serves up two types of chicken, the Hut signature, tossed in a spicy sauce, and their classic, which is their answer to the stuff we love from Jollibee, KFC and other chicken joints. I’ve always been a fan of Army Navy’s fried chicken, which I preferred over their burgers and burritos. It had pepperiness similar to that of KFC, but with a crunchiness closer to that of Jollibee. Coco Hut’s classic chicken is exactly the same recipe, and with a bigger starring role on the menu, it will definitely gain more attention. The Hut special is the classic chicken tossed in a spicy sauce more Cajun than Buffalo, rendering the already tasty chicken even more delicious. I love my spice, but the kick provides just enough heat to please even those who are not a fan of it.
The Poor Man’s Fish is more distinctly Filipino, a trussed-up deep-fried galunggong that is so crisp, turning the heads and tails into the best part. Their version has leeks and chili, which combats the natural greasiness that comes from cooking galunggong this way. A spicy soy vinegar sauce makes this taste of home, begging you to eat this with rice. The vegetables on the menu aren’t bad either, all cooked ginataan style, with the jackfruit being an instant favorite. Even the drinks and the dessert keep things consistent. A tamarind ice tea and coconut shake feel very Filipino indeed, and the incredibly ube yogurt served with chunks of cheese is the kind of current, genius combination that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. The only minor quip I do have is that the salt level was tuned up just a little too much on some of the dishes, but this stuff can easily be corrected.
The prices are slightly more expensive, but with the quality of the food, it is easily justified. Does Coco Hut bring anything entirely new to the table? Maybe not, but what they serve is delicious enough to turn it into a hit.