Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters

7:26:00 PM

I had been seeing too much of these Fast food? FAST GOOD posters around McKinley Hill in the previous months, but never made connection to exactly what was it we should be on the lookout for. The logo was there, sure, but my eyes were fixed on the horrible pun. There may have been a tiny part in me that swore I’d never try this “fast good fare”, pero buti na lang I never let the thought out. The beauty in the unspoken is that I have nothing to take back!

Who would've thought that several weeks later I'd be pointing to those poster's raison d'etre?

There were two things about Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters that caught my attention. First was the very Pinoy menu; affordability came second. With the exception of McDonald's and KFC, cheap chicken is hard to come by at McKinley Hill (actually, you know what, make that cheap anything) so it's just natural for a Scrooge like myself (a recent personal development) to get excited over low-priced alternatives.  

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters | Awesome in Manila

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters is owned by Chef Roland Laudico, and it has been written off as a rebranding effort for his Ayala Triangle restaurant BFAST. Larry and I tried it out back in our SENCOR days and while we really enjoyed their blueberry cheesecake, we never had enough reason to return. This makes for an interesting discovery as I distinctly remember BFAST giving off a completely different vibe from Pugon Roasters. The former's interiors were a bit rustic and the ambiance was a little more intimate, while the latter (at least in the McKinley Hill branch) is open and teeming with noisy, corporate drones. (Haha.) It is rarely not full at lunch hour, which doesn't come as a surprise to me considering the wide selection of "fast good" Filipino fare, each with their own twists.

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters | Awesome in Manila

Take, for example, their Kaldereta Mac (P85). Under the hefty umbrella of melted cheese, you'll find baked macaroni with an even cheesier (meaty too!) kaldereta sauce and a bed of mashed potato. Our only beef with it *badum tss* was that the kaldereta sauce wasn't "kaldereta enough". The Filipino cuisine has plenty of tomato-based stews to boast and each one offers a distinct flavor, and I didn't find kaldereta in this dish (or ramekin, if you want to be technical). It was just cheese through and through, nothing like how I had imagined it. But setting failed expectations aside, it wasn't bad naman. Nakakaumay lang to eat alone.

Other interesting options would be Angus Roast Beef, Baked Bangus Belly (mmmm), Chicken Liver Surprise and Sizzling Chickenini - curiosity reserved for another day!

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters | Awesome in Manila

Somebody had to try the restaurant's signature and the willing appetite was mine. Chef Lau's Pugon Chicken (P99) reminded me a lot of my mom's own turbo-broiled recipe. There was a party of flavors in the first bite and it went beyond the skin. I couldn't tell what was in the marinade but one thing was certain: this is the best roasted chicken I've ever had under P100.*

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters | Awesome in Manila

Even without the unli-rice offer that competitions thrive on, Chef Lau's chicken is the clear winner. In terms of flavor and quality, hands down. I know inasal is a completely different recipe, but chicken is chicken is chicken and Chef Lau got it right in my book!

Chef Lau's Pugon Roasters | Awesome in Manila

Their Sinampalukang Chicken Sopas (P49) was true to its name. There was nothing exceptional about it but the sourness of the tamarind flavor does get you sipping spoonful after spoonful. This is now my go-to soup over 7/11's MSG-laden hot pot!

Chef Lau's Pugon Roast
2F Venice Piazza,
McKinley Hill, Taguig

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