TETSUO’s Fried Chicken Goes the Extra-Hot Direction at Their Poblacion Branch
The Katipunan chicken joint finds another home in a new neighborhood.
8483 Kalayaan Avenue corner Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) It’s been a long and winding road for TETSUO. Founded by friends Sean Bautista, Matt San Pedro, Wesley Chan, and Timothy Jacob, the multi-hyphenated brand specializing in fried chicken (among many other avenues) started as a stall at Mercato Centrale in 2015 before opening a stall at Ateneo de Manila University’s JSEC in 2016, and eventually cobbling together enough funds to open their own standalone shop in Katipunan in 2018. But from the beginning, it had always been their dream to open up shop in the Makati area—and that dream is now a reality with TETSUO 2.0, their new outpost located in Poblacion, Makati.
The new branch retains a number of elements of the Katipunan original, with dark interiors given cyberpunk influences and the use of concrete and steel for a rugged feel. But it also sports a much sleeker, more minimalist look, with most of the skate-culture knickknacks of the original replaced with a shelf of One Cup Ozeki Sake and Horoyoi chuhai—perhaps as an ode to their newfound freedom to serve alcohol, which was something they couldn’t do in student-populated Katipunan. The new location also allows them to invite DJs to spin music more frequently—a feat they had previously found difficult to do with Katipunan being a residential area. Moreover, they’ve collaborated with local artist VIETNAMEAT to produce new merchandise (including shirts and a utility apron), and will be introducing monthly parties called #TETSUOnight, where they’ll be having over their favorite DJs plus food specials all night long.
More than anything, the food is really the star of the show here. They’re offering most of their bestsellers to the Makati crowd—including their famous buttermilk-brined, crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside Fried Chicken (P180/two pieces, P250/three pieces for solo plates with nori rice and gravy). Now, however, it’s available in bigger servings (P160/two pieces, P320/four pieces, P480/six pieces) that are perfect for sharing. “Katipunan was a very student-heavy area, [so] the meals there are more for solo [servings] that are more convenient for students...[here], we’ve added options where you can opt to buy baskets of chicken to share with your friends,” Chan (who handles most of TETSUO’s food-related aspects) explains.
More notably, they’ve got special creations exclusive to the new branch, starting off with the Hot Chicken (P220/two pieces). This extra-hot take on their signature fried bird is dusted with a Carolina Reaper spice blend that starts out slightly fruity before going into spiciness overdrive. Trust us, this does not hold back on the heat—specifically, the kind that builds up gradually and lingers long on the tongue. Dunk it in the gravy if you must, but it’s the kind of pain that only makes you want to go back for another helping. (And if it does get too hot to handle, they do keep milk in the kitchen—just ask!)
Chan describes their selection as food they themselves love to eat—and while they make no claims to authenticity, much of their offerings have East Asian elements. The Garlic Beef (P270) is TETSUO’s answer to teppanyaki, with beef short plate cooked sous vide for 10 hours, garlic, and leeks with their house teppan sauce; it’s beefy, it’s tender, and it’s perfect with the refreshing fizziness of the Horoyoi Red Grape (P150). Meanwhile, the Tuna Tartare (P250) offers a fresh respite from the other meatier options, with a vibrant mix of fresh tuna, spring onions, pickled cucumbers, and tempura crumbs in a soy-ginger dressing, lime, and sesame.
Whereas the Katipunan branch has baos, the Poblacion branch has the umami-packed Chicken Sandwich (P250) consisting of a large chicken karaage fillet (which is crispy and gingery in a distinct way from their buttermilk fried chicken), spicy crab fat mayo, lettuce, pickled cucumber, and citrusy sansho and smoky kaneda spices on a soft potato bun. The same karaage-style chicken can also be enjoyed in bite-sized pieces and with noodles in the Karaage + Birthday Noodles (P250), a special that used to be served exclusively on their anniversaries or staff birthdays but can now be had all year round. It comes with a side of egg noodles and an in-house chili sauce that delivers the right amount of savory heat.
At a glance, it would seem that TETSUO is all grown up. To this, Bautista laughs: “to a certain degree,” he says. “But it’s still the same group of friends, working together.” New look, new rules, and new menu additions aside, TETSUO 2.0 retains the same sense of mischievous creativity and jagged playfulness that they’ve always been known for—and that’s precisely what makes them exceptional.
Photos by Kai Huang