New eats: Why Fyre is the hottest addition to hip Poblacion

Joko Magalong-De Veyra

Posted at Feb 24 2018 06:09 PM | Updated as of Feb 25 2018 07:22 AM

Chef Kel Zaguirre poses for a photo at his new venture Fyre. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- In hip Poblacion, choices abound to suit different culinary inclinations, and it takes a lot to standout. 

Yet this challenging climate hasn’t deterred a slew of concepts from opening in the district, including Fyre, the newest bar/lounge concept by Locavore chef Kel Zaguirre found at the rooftop of a building at the corner of P. Burgos and Guerrero Streets. 

This is the first venture under Mikel Zaguirre Projects, and as the name denotes, the chef played with the concept of “fire” in the menu.

“The heart and soul of the concept is that the food is cooking [on an] open fire. We have roasts, we have grilled, we have smoked,” explained Zaguirre. “No specific cuisine; just food we want to eat, and we want to serve.” 

Meet the 'Fyre Brigade': (from left) pastry chef Mia Daischiell Cledera, sous chef Keeb Sanchez, chef Mikel Zaguirre, and mixologist Kalel Demetrio. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

While cooking on an open fire may be one of the tenets that Zaguirre started with, the Fyre menu goes beyond the obvious when we think “open fire cooking.” While indeed roast chicken and barbeque are present, Zaguirre included some tasty curveballs. 

This, coupled with the genius of Kalel Demetrio of Liquid Maestro, who provides alcoholic counterpoints to Zaguirre’s brand of comfort food. 

Fyre’s menu has multiple things to offer the hard-to-please Poblacion clientele.

Here's what you can expect at Fyre.

1. Fyre Cheeseburger

This cheeseburger stayed away from much frou frou, which is always a good thing when it comes to burgers, emphasizing just a hefty amount of beef with the usual trimmings. All cradled in a soy sauce and butter brushed brioche bun.  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

2. Loco Moco Don 

Looking for something to fill you up before a night of drinking? The Loco Moco Don comes highly recommended. It’s the same thick burger patty on a bed of rice, with wakame, alongside a healthy amount of little umami bombs of fish roe, and pickled onions. Drizzle in your gravy, mix to your heart’s content, and you’ve got a filling and healthy meal that slates in as one of my favorite burger steak meals ever. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

3. Fyre Roasted Pork Belly 

Pork belly that’s been cooking slow and low with fats fully rendered while still being extra juicy, finished with the added bonus of pork skin that gives it a satisfying crackle. What differentiates this from the usual liempo/roasted pork loin fare is what joins the pork in the skillet -- cherry tomatoes add bursts of acidity, roasted shallots give earthy sweetness, and some microgreens and herbs add freshness and bite. A sweetish soy sauce-garlic ‘sawsawan’ completes this trademark Zaguirre vibrantly colored dish.  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

4. Sisig

Fyre’s version has the same roasted pork belly, joined by crispy chicken skin, and chicharon, all bound by aioli, garlic oil and ginger oil, punctuated with sweet-sour acidity from pickled onions, and topped with a soft-boiled egg. Breaking the egg open results in a runny yolky mess that you mix in with the lot. Sticky and crispy, this is not your typical sisig, but checks in all the right things whether you’re looking for ulam or pulutan. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

5. Spicy Noodles

Here comes the curveball. My hands-down favorite thing in Fyre is the Spicy Noodles. Pancit Canton tossed in garlic, oil, and chilies, topped with an oyster omelette, and sandwiched in a brioche bun. 

On its own drizzled with some calamansi and soy sauce, the noodles with bites of oyster and egg was already a keeper, but with the brioche bun, it hit that Filipino part of me (perhaps in all of us) that once upon a time has eaten pansit Canton as palaman (sandwich filling) to pandesal/bread. 

This time around though, things are more delicious. The buttery brioche has a bottom part that soaked with all the flavor from the noodles (and oysters), and a top that is buttery and sweet. And who knew noodles with an oyster omellette would be a winning combination that heightened the briny delights of oyster tbalanced with fruity calamansi. Carbs on carbs delicious!  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

6. Inside Out Smores

Dessert also had a “Fyre” approach with selections like an apple crumble, and a bonfire-chocolate dessert, but it was the Inside Out Smores, while being the least visually striking of the lot, that got my attention. Chocolate biscuit and nuts enveloped with torched marshmallow, and a chocolate tuille as an accent. Simple, decadent and rich!  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

7. Beer Cocktails

As a rooftop lounge, nothing beats nursing a beer, a cocktail, or a beer cocktail (the best of both worlds), as one takes in the view of Rockwell’s silhouetted buildings.

Demetrio offers three types of beer cocktails. Beery Nice has Super Dry/Pale with hibiscus fruit and some empire vodka. Hibiscus balances out some of the bitterness of beer, while empire vodka adds some kick.

Stellar Kiss heightens the crisp freshness of a Stella Artois with rosemary and gin, while peach makes a sip sweeter and smoother. 

Dark Horse takes your favorite Red Horse and gives it a caffeinated kick with Amadeo coffee liqueur, sweetened with caramel, and just to make it more interesting – a barely there addition of orange juice.  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

8. Ninja Movez 

Fyre has a competitive selection in its drink list. Beer comes in relatively cheap, there are promos on whiskeys and other hard liquor, and all the cocktails served were well-thought of (a must in artisan-loving Poblacion), and smooth and easy on the tastebuds. Hard to pick a favorite but I’ve narrowed it to two refreshing cups that was divine to sip and savor during that hot night in Manila. 

First is the Ninja Movez, a drink that fits its name to a T. It’s a drink that packs a lot of alcoholic Suntory Whisky oomph masked with a citrusy-sweet flavor thanks to some aperol, yuzu, lemon, and orgeat (almond, rose, orange) syrup. Eggwhite foam gives it some lightness and just completes this fun drink that will hit you when you’re not looking.  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

9. Fyre My Thigh

The other cocktail that I liked is the Fyre My Thigh, a cheeky version of the tropical wonder that is a Mai Tai – using Very Old Captain rum, and Maker’s Mark. It’s the addition of peach rosemary and earl grey liqueur flavors that play with the tastebuds in this one – balanced, earthy, citrusy, and sweet- all in a sip. A drink that you could go back to again and again.  Photo by Jeeves de Veyra