Around the World in Seven Plates: Smokin’ Cues

7 months ago

smokin' cues

Anthony Bourdain once said, “Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” Well, a good place to explore that notion is at Smokin’ Cues in White Plains, Quezon City. The restaurant may look modest with its orange hued interiors, metallic utilitarian chairs, and wooden tabletops but the magic happens where the meat meets the grill.

Inspired by his family trips to different countries, Dale Liwanag pursued his goals to open a barbecue spot. Together with Fru Malijan, they launched Smokin’ Cues during the third quarter of last year after deciding to take their “world-ly” barbecue concept outside of Bawaii’s Vietnamese kitchen. “There are so many barbecue dishes in the world, and it would be a shame if they didn’t take the center stage,” Fru explains. The level of seriousness in prepping and cooking each variant is extraordinary. The kitchen has a strict four hour minimum marinating period so that the meats can fully absorb the flavors. There’s even the dedicated lava rock and charcoal grilling station for the different kinds of barbecues so that the flavors are retained in every dish. As explained in the documentary Cooked, when grilling, juices from the proteins drip on the coals and circle back to the meat in the form of smoke, creating a deeper flavor.

Fru admits that they needed to tweak some of the original recipes so Filipinos can fully appreciate each unique barbecue. After a trip to Japan, the couple brought home their yakitori experience but realized that the original recipe might be a little too bland for local tastes. So, they created their own Chicken Yakitori Fillet that’s flavored with their signature mixture made up of sake, mirin, and Japanese soy sauce. American Southern barbecue fanatics may like their cues a bit on the savory and sour side but you’ll end up rejoicing with their version of the Belly Slab, a premier pork belly portion of equal parts fat and meat that’s heavily marinated and served with Dale’s sweet cumin barbecue sauce. It’s also available as a Rib Rack—perfect for sharing or, if you’re the kind who likes a meaty challenge, even for indulging in by yourself!

smokin' cues - chicharon

If you love bold, spicy flavors, try the Tabasco and chili enriched Mexican Shredded Beef Strip Loin, which you can pair with spiced rice, or scoop up with crispy pita bread. Thai barbecue is also represented in the menu in the Chicken Satay that’s partnered with a luscious peanut sauce. We won’t judge you if you order another serving of this happiness-on-a-stick that has tender chicken meat with slightly-charred chicken skin still coated with aromatics. That’s because we’d do the same as well.

Of course, local favorites still draw in the crowds. Smokin’ Cues’ Filipino Pork Belly is a notch above the rest—thin layers of fat intertwine with the skewered tender meat has customers savoring each sinful bite. Complemented with a serving of fragrant Java rice, this is so good that you’ll end up asking for more. Even the common Chicharon gets a makeover. Giant puffed up pork rinds that can barely fit the serving plate are served with a lovely oregano onion dip. It’s sure to whet the appetites of everyone around the table. If you still have room for dessert, order the Apple Pie with Cream Cheese Filling. Unassuming at first glance, this deconstructed sampling of the classic apple pie gets our vote with its sweet-sour-salty notes mixed with a light layer of cream cheese then sprinkled with crunchy crumbled oats.

It’s exciting to think what other international barbecue offerings the restaurant will have in the future—Korean gogui perhaps? Argentinian asado? Middle Eastern kebabs? We’ll have to wait and see. For the meantime, sit back, chill and let Smokin’ Cues fire up the grill.

smokin' cues - pork belly skewers with java rice

Words by Angeli de Rivera
Photographed by John Ocampo of Studio 100
Address: 42 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City


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