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Grill Baby Grill

It is a very personal relationship we all enjoy with food, especially in the case of Frangos. It began where all good food originates: at home. Pia and Jonathan Renato’s initial concept, before the chicken had crossed the road, was meat, and lots of it. Pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, specifically.

During recipe testing, they whipped up a chicken recipe that was not necessarily the star of the show, just as an option of lighter fare for the close friends and family they had gathered to help them out with their concept. Strangely enough, it was the chicken that garnered the most attention: people started to order it, to Don’s surprise. “I’m not selling it, I’m selling ribs! But you want it? Okay, sure.” Like Candy Crush, which wasn’t developed as the primary product but is the most downloaded and highest income-generating app in the world, it still makes me chuckle at how we are sometimes so focused on one thing we dismiss that which will put our names on the map. Good thing Don and Pia have the maturity it takes to shelve your initial concept in favor of what the market truly wants; startups ought to take notes from this enterprising and charming couple.

Frangos, friends, and family: this is a typical Wednesday night with not much going on. The wooden stools are a little uncomfortable albeit deliberately so; that spurs you to lean forward on the table and talk. They even carry grande bottles of San Miguel Pale Pilsen to encourage people to gather together and talk. With any luck, the conversations you have are as satisfying as the food on your plate.

Frangos chicken is flavored with 14 different spices, and is an amalgamation of Portuguese and African taste sensibilities. It isn’t a Portuguese restaurant, but a place that features Portuguese-style chicken. This is evident from the menu, engineered by Chef Jerome Valencia of Tambai in collaboration with Dondon and Pia, which carries items that complement and enhance the chicken to the best possible results. Add to that the three sauces that are designed to give you a mouthgasm with every bite, and it is no wonder that people head over to Frangos to get their chicken fix.

Portuguese Chicken

What was most admirable about the Frangos philosophy was that they weren’t trying to build their brand so that their product is popularized; they do it old school, perfecting the product so you patronize the establishment. It all started in Legaspi Sunday Market; Dondon was out of town and Pia was there, facing five panels of judges who were incredibly, and admirably specific about their culinary knowledge. One question that stood out in particular was, “Why do you have mango salsa? It says this is Portuguese chicken, mango salsa is Mexican.” Pia’s response, “because it tastes good with the chicken” quickly satisfied the judges and before you knew it, Frangos was grilling every Sunday at Legaspi market.

Portuguese Seafood Rice

What further sets Frangos apart is that they have a patented method for that great, succulent, rotisserie grilled chicken. The long-cooking method of roasting can no longer accidentally dry out the meat, as the grill cages butterfly the chicken so that it cooks evenly and quickly, between 20-25 minutes versus the usual cooking time of 55 minutes to over an hour. This rapid cooking time is responsible for the amazing juicy meat that ends up on your plate each and every single time. As Chef Jerome said, “the real measure of how well the chicken is done is if the breast meat is done perfectly.” While usually associated with diet food, grilled chicken breasts no longer taste like cardboard – if you get them at Frangos, that is.

Setting the Bar High: while the bottom line is important to Frangos, it takes a backseat to how you enjoy the Frangos experience; real wooden counters, pristine stainless steel sheeting, top-of-the-line grills, and the freshest ingredients are just some of the things they will not compromise.

In addition, their staff is so well trained that they have no problem fielding questions about the menu, and, most impressive of all, if they do not know the answer to your question, they will tell you so and then go and find out for you. Now, that’s real service.

The Funky Chicken: a doff-of-the-cap to Dondon and Pia’s origins in the bar and music scene, this clever fresco is painted by artist, musician, and longtime friend Vernon “Spoonman” Perez.

Frangos Portuguese-Style Chicken is located at the ground floor of Buma Building, Kamagong Street, Barangay San Antonio, Makati, Metro Manila. You can also order through FoodPanda for delivery. However, if you want to eat Frangos the way it was meant to be eaten, it is highly recommendable to go to the restaurant and try it fresh and hot from the grill yourself. For more information, follow their Facebook account via Frangos - Portuguese Style Chicken.

Photos of food courtesy of Frangos - Portuguese Style Chicken's Facebook page.

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