9th Avenue corner Lane P, Bonifacio Global City
Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
(SPOT.ph) First things first: BirdBox has no relation whatsoever to the currently meme-able movie starring Sandra Bullock, though the team behind the fried chicken shop in Bonifacio Global City have taken the association in stride. “We have people who stop by, bring out blindfolds, and take photos,” shares Nina Capistrano, who co-owns BirdBox with her friends Steven Chen, Bettina Capistrano, Jason Buen, and Nathaniel Benedicto.
Though the movie connection helps, BirdBox doesn’t exactly need it to stand out. Located near Agave, the take-out counter is a little hard to find but also hard to miss, especially by folks who always pass through busy Lane P. Their name is written in big, bold, bubble letters, and a hip pop-art aesthetic, a vibrant red-blue-purple color scheme, and a fun neon sign with their catchphrase, “Bok bok baby,” immediately grab your attention. “Our personal branding is more minimalist and monochromatic but given the food and the concept, it wouldn't make sense to make something like that,” shares Capistrano. “We wanted something that fit fried chicken... coupled with the fact that we want to be different. [So we didn’t want the] typical blue and orange or yellow and red [you usually associate with fried chicken]. And pink and purple, for us, was very unconventional.”
BirdBox is also special because of how affordable their chicken meals are, especially when you compare them to the usual price range of BGC eateries. You can get a Chicken Box with Rice for only P149 and a Chicken Box with Fries for only P169—and the serving size is nothing to scoff at. “Our philosophy is to bring in simple food but try to do it as well or as excellently as you possibly can,” says Capistrano. “Our dishes aren’t exactly extraordinary or out-of-this-world but they’re a cut above the rest within this price range, especially in this area.”
Their boneless, golden fried chicken is, of course, the star of their chicken boxes—the batter is crispy but also has a lightness to it, and the chicken remains juicy underneath. But their Asian-inspired sauces, developed by Chen who also serves as their head chef, are no slouches, either. Each sauce, shares Chen, is inspired by classic Japanese and Korean flavors but adapted to suit their chicken and the local palate.
The Tebasaki is an easy crowd favorite; the teriyaki-inspired sauce is mildly sweet without getting too cloying, balanced out with a hint of fresh spice by the ginger. Those who love heat will enjoy the Yangnyeom—based on the Korean chili paste gochujang, this sauce packs substantial spiciness, but also has layers of sweet-tangy flavor that make it complex. The Kare (add P20) is their take on Japanese curry, with the familiar hearty warmth of the classic Japanese comfort food.
Aside from the sauces, you can also top your chicken and rice or fries with a variety of toppings, from shichimi (Japanese chili powder) and furikake (Japanese seasoning made with seaweed and sesame) to kimchi (add P10). We highly recommend the Onsen Egg (add P20); the perfectly soft-boiled egg adds a layer of richness to your meal.
Right now, BirdBox gets a steady stream of customers, and they already have regulars within a month of opening. Capistrano shares that they plan to offer delivery soon, and are considering extending their opening hours. “A lot of people have inquired about extending our hours,” she says. “They can imagine munching on these after having a couple rounds of beer so it’s something we’re working on.”
With their addictive fried-chicken boxes, we wouldn't be surprised if the movie they share a name with becomes the last thing on your mind.
Photos by Patrick Martires