What can you tell us about Bong Bong's Manila Kanteen?
It's the first permanent restaurant from the people formerly known as BBQ Dreamz, Lee Johnson and Sinead Campbell, who also won an episode of Million Pound Menu on the BBC. This sees them serving up a Filipino menu matched with cocktails given a South Asian Twist.
Where is it?
It's on the eastern end of Hackney Road, just a few minutes walk from Cambridge Heath Station.
Where should we meet for a drink first?
There's a hell of a lot to choose from on Hackney Road. There's wine from either Sager + Wilde or The Laughing Heart, and two excellent pubs in the shape of The Marksman and the Sebright Arms. The Queen Adelaide is right opposite the restaurant and next to that, is the cocktail bar The Natural Philosopher.
That said, Bong Bong's is also a very good option in itself - and even worth coming in just for the cocktails themselves. There's a cosy little sofa area in the middle and both the cocktails we had were excellent. The Milo White Russian (Milo, vodka, coffee liqueur, milk and cream, Maltesers - £7.50) was particularly fine in its malty goodness (with a good kick in it too).
Where should we sit?
Nothing really struck us as the best seat in the house - but note that some of the tables are long sharing tables (see the pic above) so if you don't fancy communal dining, make that clear when booking. The table inside the window (where we set) is probably the best option for four people.
What's on the menu?
If you've tried BBQ Dreamz either while they were doing street food or in their residency at the top of John Lewis Oxford Street, you'll have an idea. Essentially, they're serving up a range of Filipino-inspired food, with a mixture of snacks, curries and more. Here's what we tried:
And anything you missed out on?
We didn't try duck heart skewers, although we've heard good things. The one thing we really did want, but wasn't available when we visited, was the crispy pata (Whole crispy fragrant pork hock, with spiced liver sauce, sarsawan dipping sauce, and a celery, radish and coriander salad - £11). But all counts, it's pretty amazing and one of their signature dishes - here it is:
What about vegetarian dishes?
There are plenty of veg options on the menu (including the peppers above). Other dishes include Spinach and kale laing and Atchara noodle salad (Pickled papaya, ginger and daikon noodle salad with crushed peanuts). On our visit we had...
How about desserts?
As portions are generous, you may want to consider sharing a dessert. And if so, then it's the turon below, although there's also the lighter calamansi sorbet.
What's on the drinks list?
We've mentioned the cocktails already - but once again. definitely have one or two of those. For wine, they've teamed up with Uncharted Wines for a weekly changing list of two whites, two reds and a sparkling. Prices start at £5 a glass, £25 for a large carafe and we went for a French Pesquie "le Paradou" viognier on our visit.
We loved pretty much everything that we had when we visited Bong Bong's, from the snacks right through to the excellent curry. Portions are generous and there's nothing quite like it in the area. Eating here, it's easy to see why they won Million Pound Menu - good food in a lovely space and keenly priced. Well worth a visit.
Hot Dinners were invited to Bong Bong's Manila Kanteen. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
More about Bong Bong's Manila Kanteen
Where is it? 460 Hackney Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9EG
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