Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen - Hackney
March 10, 2020
Lee Johnson and Sinead Campbell shone on BBC’s Million Pound menu with their Filipino street food concept BBQ Dreamz, winning big. Now, after a series of residencies and pop-ups across the capital and a name change to the altogether more memorable Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen, they’ve found permanent digs on Hackney Road in Bethnal Green. We popped in early on a busy Thursday night to see how they were bedding in…
The dining room feels like it could have been lifted from a beach idyll with a fun-loving vibe and all of the accoutrements of a quality Asian diner. Cartoon font yellow and pink signage greets diners making their way into Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen, ensuring they know where they are. Inside, pale yellow walls are festooned with flowers, candlelit tables are clad in psychedelic paisley cloths, and wooden chairs play off potted plants. It felt necessary to order piña coladas, which were the perfect antidote to a wet February evening.
A starter of adobo glazed cauliflower was mind-bendingly delicious, fried crisp in vinegar, violently more-ish. We’ll order two or three during the next visit. Satay duck heart skewers were laden with spring onion, lime and crispy pork crackling (more on that in a sec). Of the mains, we were in love with a roast aubergine kare kare curry laden with peanut, turmeric, peas, pineapple and lime. It was finessed and restrained. On the opposite side of the spectrum, whole pork hock was fried until bullet crisp, served with a spiced liver sauce and sarsawan dipping sauce. It’s definitely their hero dish. We wrapped dinner up with banana and cinnamon spring rolls and vegan vanilla ice cream.
Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen is Filipino cuisine par excellence. They’re carrying the flag.
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