Kettle, Shangri-La Mall Review: Southern ComfortJanuary 25, 2019
- Pamela CortezWords
Where do you go for a truly great sandwich in Manila? In a country where rice is king, it’s difficult for me to give a proper answer to that question. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a place that serves a great Reuben, or an awesome Cuban, or a stunning po’boy. There are a few standalone sandwich places that serve decent grub, but with the truly special offerings buried deep in their menus, they often get overlooked. In the end, I, along with most other people, just never think to order one.
I often forget how good a really well-made sandwich can be. Sandwiches, I believe, are some of the trickiest things to master. They need to have that elusive perfect bite—either with something juicy and tender between two toasted pieces of bread or something crisp nestled in a soft bun that matches it perfectly. My constant search for that truly great sandwich in Manila has led me to Kettle. In this unassuming restaurant, sandwiches, amongst many standout dishes, are king.
There are so many new places in the new Eastwing of Shangri-La that Kettle runs the risk of being overlooked. It’s hidden behind the escalator, an unfortunate location. In addition, it has to compete with the buzz and endless lines at Goco’s Green Pastures. With the competition it’s up against, you might be tempted to call it the underdog, but with the dishes coming out of their kitchen, Kettle is definitely far more than that.
Their Buttermilk Fried Chicken is so good, you’ll forget about all the other fried chicken you’ve had in the past.
They serve comfort food classics done well. Sometimes simple is best, and their dishes are no-fuss, no-frills, and just taste good. One of the best examples of what Kettle is all about is their Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It is so good that it makes you forget most of the fried chicken you’ve ever had. The spices on the breading are so tasty. The bird is fried to a golden brown, and is—quite miraculously—hardly oily. Even if it is deboned, it still manages to be so juicy. One poke of the fork and all that great chicken juice comes running out. Served with cornbread muffins, and just a little bit of Cajun honey, this is the kind of food that would make just about anyone shake their head in disbelief.
I hadn’t even finished my po’boy when I found myself texting people to visit Kettle.
But let’s get to the sandwiches. The Reuben has become a fast favorite, and rightly so, with its always winning combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, and melted cheese. However, it’s their Shrimp Po’boy that really hits the mark. Sandwiches with crunch aren’t usually my thing, but this Shrimp Po’boy is an exception. The textures are great, with the shrimp plump, and not so heavily breaded that it becomes cloying and heavy. The sauce is just piquant enough that it cuts through all the fried stuff, with the pickles adding an extra sour note. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed this po’boy. I hadn’t even finished mine when I found myself sending photos and texting messages to friends telling them they needed to find their way to Kettle, if just for this sandwich.
Some desserts were lacking in flavor.
On other parts of their menu, Kettle’s simplicity makes their food stumble. The House Salad’s bacon and walnuts were almost absent, and the Clam Chowder tasted too rich with the serving too miniscule. Some desserts were lacking in flavor and needed improvement, like the Banana Cream Pie with custard that was more akin to Bavarian, and a Peach Trifle that wouldn’t be missed if left off the menu.
Yes, the prices may be a little steep as well, but most servings are good for 2-3 people, so don’t make the mistake of ordering one main per person. In spite of a few missteps, overall, Kettle makes a delicious impression.
The quality dishes show that they’re on the right track.
This is some pretty decent cooking for a place that’s just about comfort food. It doesn’t get too wild, but instead focuses on Southern recipes that would translate well to the Filipino palate. They had decent service even though all our visits were made during the soft opening, and the quality dishes mean that they’re definitely on the right track. I can’t wait to get my hands on their chicken and po’boy again.