New Restaurant Alert: Chibi's Karaage at SM Light, Mandaluyong
We've never been this excited about fried chicken.
G/F SM Light Mall, EDSA corner Madison Street (right across Boni MRT station), Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) It's not entirely fair to compare gourmet eateries with fast-food restaurants. The way the former puts up an entirely different playing field, fast-food places hold a special place in anyone's heart. It's an instant pick-me-up, the comfort zone of comfort food. Weeks-old Chibi's Karaage offers that same draw, but with the added appeal of Japanese fried chicken.
A different kind of fast dining
Chibi's Karaage is actually the offshoot of Chibi's Kitchen in the South, which specializes in easygoing Japanese food. Their chicken became such a star on its own—hence, Chibi's Karaage, which puts to the fore this style of frying chicken. Fried chicken is a Pinoy fast-food favorite, and how the Japanese does theirs—light batter, plunged in oil a few times for that crispy skin, and lots and lots of juiciness—should bode well for the local appetite.
Their Yakisoba (P90) pulsates with katsuoboshi which gives a distinct umami flavor to its otherwise mild taste.
Karaage in Original Spice. A large cup is P120 while the regular is priced at P90.
Buffalo + Mentai Mayo. You can mix and match with two sauces. There’s extra charge if you want to put in three or more.
The Japanese-style boneless fried chicken boasts a simple formula of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, plus a secret ingredient that owner Dempsey Uy claims is the gamechanger. Fermented rice malt, maybe? We can only guess, but that distinct profile could be complemented with 10 sauces and two extra spices: Pesto, Mayo, Shogoyaki, Takoyaki, Mentai Mayo, Original Spice, Japanese Curry, Sweet Chili, Buffalo, Oroshi, Cheese, and BBQ. The menu steers clear from anything risqué, quite content with flavorful spins that aim to please.
A serving of chicken karaage is a cup filled to the brim. Served pica-pica style, the crisp exterior has delicate yet savory spices seeping nicely into the flesh. Trust us, you can get lost eating your bowl. The Original Spice stands its own ground, but you'll get a kick out of the Takoyaki or the feisty combination of the Buffalo and the Mentai Mayo as well.
Takoyaki. Only this time, it’s chicken instead of octopus.
The Buta no Kakuni’s (P175) pork is braised for five hours tops.
The Karaage Bento (P155)
Fast food patterned after the gold mine meal creations of Japan wouldn’t be complete without a good old bento box, which includes a little bit of everything and then some. Chibi’s karaage has a staple place in a compartment, complete with sticky white rice topped with dollops of sesame seed and vegetables. If you're looking for a chicken-free lunch, ask for the Buta no Kakuni (P175). The tender braised pork belly doused in rich soy based sauce tastes similar to adobo. It's another adapted item from Chibi's Kitchen.
Matcha everything with red beans and ice cream
Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back with some well-earned dessert. Beat the erratic weather to the punch with their Kakigori (P95)—that is, a shaved ice treat boasting syrups and sweeteners (Coffee, Strawberry, and Matcha), a colorful take on halo-halo.
Most other eateries would opt to parade themselves in the limelight as soon as they can, the charm of Chibi’s Karaage lies in its low-key, homey feel. And what’s not to love with genuine and hearty meals that won’t hurt your wallet’s feelings? If you’re on a quest to round out everything that this guilty pleasure has on its plate, this is another addition worth the few extra pounds.
Chibi’s Karaage will have another branch in SM North EDSA soon.
Photos by Jericho San Miguel