Delivery eats: Chef Kel Zaguirre puts his spin on fried chicken, falafel

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Dec 03 2021 05:33 PM

Chef Kel Zaguirre and his partners at Tastehunters Martin Gino Palma and JC Rivera. Jeeves de Veyra
Chef Kel Zaguirre and his partners at Tastehunters Martin Gino Palma and JC Rivera. Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- Chef Kel Zaguirre and his partners are cooking up cloud kitchen concepts in BF Homes in Paranaque. 

Zaguirre’s new venture is Tastehunters, which was formed with partners Martin Gino Palma and JC Rivera. They were set to open a fry house The Big Belly, which is still on Waze, but just when they were about to launch, the first pandemic lockdown put a stop to their plans.

It took a while but slowly Zaguirrre and partners found a way to pivot. The lockdown gave them a chance to do R&D and to refine their vision. 

Those familiar with the chef’s previous restaurants like Locavore would entrees with big, bold and varied flavors. But with Tastehunters, Zaguirre and his partners came up with hyper-focused cloud kitchen concepts specializing in just one dish. They brought back their people and turned their rooftop restaurant into the home base for these concepts.

Gang Green Felafels. Jeeves de Veyra
Gang Green Felafels. Jeeves de Veyra

The first of these concepts is Gang Green Felafels. They joke around that it’s vegetarian food for carnivores. One can see the playful marks of Zaguirre’s cooking even in the felafels themselves. Felafels are usually made with garbanzo beans. While this is available, Zaguirre also has felafels made of fava beans and edamame giving them a different flavor. 

And this goes well with the different sauces and toppings they use to spice up the wraps. One serving of Gang Green’s felafels is very filling even for meat lovers. You won’t really miss meat once you have a fill of this. 

You have the option of ordering kamote fries sprinkled with Injeolmi, Korean sweet soybean powder, that makes a great side to the pita and felafel sandwiches. 

The partners also added Filipino touches such as the ube pita bread that is an option with the felafels.

AFC or Aguirre Fried Chicken. Jeeves de Veyra
AFC or Aguirre Fried Chicken. Jeeves de Veyra

The second cloud kitchen concept is AFC or Aguirre Fried Chicken, an idea that took the partners six months to create. They affectionately call it their version of “southern fried chicken,” a nod to their location in southern Metro Manila. They took inspiration and the best ingredients from their favorite fried chicken – Korean, fastfood, and Filipino. The result is fried chicken that defies comparison with others. One can say it’s a combination of KFC, Korean fried chicken, and Max’s -- but levelled up.

They only have one size in the menu, and that is a whole fried spatchcocked chicken that has been brined for 20 hours. This is to ensure that the whole chicken is cooked uniformly and properly. 

Because of their research for Gang Green, they had access to Middle Eastern spices and ingredients, that eventually ended up in the recipe. The last piece of the puzzle was infusing the chicken with their in-house fermented hot sauce. Only then did the Tastehunters deem the chicken ready for the public.

While there is a non-spicy entree, the Hotbox Fried Chicken is the recommended option. This brings the heat and spice that just goes will with super crunchy skin and juicy meat. 

All orders (Hotbox or regular) come with a whole chicken, four rolls, pickles, a serving of their homemade banana ketchup, and fried saba when available.

When IATF regulations finally loosen up, the TasteHunters will fully open The Big Belly as a fried chicken chop shop. 

The felafels and fried chicken are tasty and delicious when delivered. But nothing will beat eating these fresh and hot from the kitchen, preferably with a cold drink on the balcony as the sun sets over the south.

For orders and the complete menu, you check out and message @gang.greenfelafels and @aguirrefriedchicken on Instagram and Facebook.