Ghetto Grub: Mang AmbongMarch 6, 2019
- Nico GocoWords
From food carts, to hole-in-the wall joints, we try out meals that literally test your intestinal fortitude. There may be flies on the counter, and the dishes aren’t always clean, but that big, hot bowl of what’s presumably food just looks so good. Yes, these are the places your mom warned you about. But it’s okay, we won’t tell if you won’t. Welcome to Ghetto Grub.
Mang Ambong is the best barbecue stall at Better Living, Parañaque.
Sharing the same space with the office of the local tricycle driver’s association, as well as a watch repair booth, Mang Ambong serves grilled meats-on-sticks for any hungry passer-by. It is, in my opinion, one of the best barbecue stalls at Better Living, Parañaque. Maybe it’s because of their marinade, one of the few that doesn’t taste like diabetes on the first bite. Maybe it’s the fact that their location allows you to multi-task, letting you file a complaint against a tricycle driver, get your watch’s battery replaced, and have your fill of isaw all at the same time, that makes it special. Whatever it is, I often find myself here on my free afternoons, happily exacerbating my problems with gout and elevated cholesterol.
When Mang Ambong opened up shop a few years back, it was a cause for celebration. I didn’t really need to ask anyone whether or not their barbecue was any good. The throng of customers routinely clamoring for Mang Ambong’s meat sticks, their parked scooters causing a major traffic obstruction on a daily basis, was all the answer I needed.
The price can be forgiven because of the huge serving size per stick.
Mang Ambong serves the usual grilled delights, the majority of them being offal. You have your pick of intestines, gizzards, and pig ears. Their pork barbecue is sold at Php 20 pesos. While that’s a little more expensive than normal, the serving size is pretty huge. Actually, all their grilled meats are huge. Instead of flimsy wooden skewers, everything they sell uses one of those sticks usually saved for the chicken quarters at Mang Inasal. The heft is put to good use, supporting the generous chunks of meat so they don’t fall into the coals while being grilled.
Because of Mang Ambong’s success, they’ve recently upgraded from a rickety grill stand to a built-in unit that comes complete with a chimney. They usually start grilling at three in the afternoon. They continue late into the night or until they run out of barbecue to cook, whichever comes first.
I’ve never actually seen Mang Ambong, and the staff I encounter there would all make great contenders for “That’s My Tomboy,” so I’m not sure whether he’s a real guy or not. Still, if I do get a chance to meet him, I’d gladly shake his hand for once again bringing decent sticks of grilled pork parts to our town.
Is Mang Ambong a place for you? Let’s take a look.
Ghetto Factor: 7/10
It shares the same space with a tricycle association office and a watch shop that had six badly made Rolex replicas the last time I was there. That has got to count for a lot in determining its “ghetto-ness.”
Health Hazard: 4/10
Unlike other more civilized barbecue joints, this one still has just one communal jar of vinegar. While I’m sure (hope?) that double dipping probably almost (maybe?) never happens anymore, you may want to ask for your orders to-go if your stomach is a bit sensitive.
I’ve yet to see conyo kids hang out here. To be fair, the hordes of people on scooters may be scaring them off, so maybe they’re sending yaya for take-out instead.