New Restaurant Alert: Fuego Amigo at Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong
It's a restaurant in a market that makes a pretty mean grilled chicken.
HMR Compound, Pioneer Street corner Reliance Street, Mandaluyong City
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Sunlight streams through the green tinted plastic roof, as a giant fan tries to blow the warm wind away. It’s noon and only a few people occupy the stretches of wooden picnic tables that represent the restaurant. Even with the incongruous mumble of EDM from a speaker, it’s not too difficult to imagine Fuego Amigo as a festive backyard picnic—the kind you see in movies.
Fuego Amigo, the al fresco joint at the parking lot of surplus haven HMR, is the latest in the fray of Latin and South American restaurants invading Metro Manila armed with sinfully spiced, sauce-driven chicken. Piri-piri (alternatively spelled “peri-peri”), in this case, is their arsenal of choice.
It might have a party-er vibe in the evening.
Piri-piri, though originating from Africa, is a type of chili pepper popularly used in Portuguese cooking. There’s nothing too fancy about it: Grill a lightly seasoned chicken and serve it with a sauce that’s as stunning as it’s subtle. On its own, piri-piri is dangerously hot, but as a sauce, in the company of cumin, lemon, paprika, and more, it’s more spiced than spicy.
Fuego Amigo serves pieces of big and juicy chicken breasts (P139/one piece, P219/two piece) grilled to an almost thick black char and pepped up with a swipe of tomato paste—a complement to the tomato-topped rice. The chili pepper-spiked sauce is set on the side, at your spice-tolerance’s disposal. Generosity usually comes in unexpected hidden gems. At Fuego Amigo, it’s in the form of an additional side, like fries, Japanese Coleslaw, Pickled Vietnamese Daikon, Corn Salsa, Salted Egg and Tomato, or Grilled Pumpkin.
Grilled Pork Slab
When circumstances call for porkier preferences, the Grilled Pork Slab (P159) isn’t a disappointing alternative. A strip of barbecued pork belly is smothered with a sweetish sauce, covering the running laces of fat and meat that combine to make something so cooperatively tender. It comes with half a grilled onion that puts up a nice sweet-spicy layer if you like that kind of flavor. The garlic rice comes topped with fried chopped cloves and bits of sausage so you get more depth in your meal.
The Amigos Porkchop (P139/one piece, P219/two piece) is the brawny member of the pack. It’s a thick cut, with an equally chunky trim of fat lightened by a scoop of chimichurri sauce. That and a cup of rice is all you need for a bit of gastronomic satisfaction.
You'll definitely need drinks.
Inside the HMR compound, with a tarpaulin sign you have to seek to be able to find, there's not much to Fuego Amigo. It's just for those who don’t require frills to find thrill in eating.