When you meet up with friends, one main issue is usually figuring out where to eat. This can go two ways: either you’re all fine with anything, or you’re all craving different things. So, if the faction is torn between the British fish and chips versus the saucy offerings of barbecue, don’t worry. You can get both at CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo!
CargoFish first started out in Uptown Bonifacio as a fish and chips restaurant, established by founding chefs Matthew Bates and Matthew Lim. Initially, it was in a repurposed shipping container (hence the name) that could only seat 10 people. Because it was a hit with the Makati and Taguig folk, CargoFish has since then expanded its capacity to fit hundreds.
With the success of the Uptown branch, CargoFish then opened its second branch in City Golf Plaza alongside Burnt Bamboo, a new restaurant concept that was borne from the founding chefs’ common love for barbecue. Undecided on the perfect combination of meats, sauces and side dishes to serve, the two Matthews agreed to just create personalized options and let diners choose for themselves.
The restaurant is divided into three parts: the takeout area, the dining area and an al fresco area for smoking, drinks and different activities.
The first side, or the takeout station, is situated right outside their restaurant – made for those who are in a hurry. Condiments are set on a table outside for easy access. Much like any fast food chain, you line up, order and pay without having to crowd with diners inside. It’s that quick and easy! They serve your takeaway meals in the cutest boxes, too!
If you’re going for a sit-down meal with friends, CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo offer two areas for you to choose from, each with a unique design.
The CargoFish side features clean black and white colors, much like the London subway station with contrasting neon yellow lights that proclaim their offerings: Fish and Chips.
Burnt Bamboo is a direct contrast to the sleek design of CargoFish. Dyed in yellow lights that set the place aglow, Burnt Bamboo’s interior is more rustic in nature. Behind their tables, you can find a large mural with neon red lights. Plus, if you’re looking for a view of the streets or a place to smoke, the restaurant offers a semi-outdoor spot which you can access through a sliding door.
In the al fresco dining area, the walls are lined with bamboo poles, which pay homage to the restaurant’s name. The same wooden tables and chairs that you can find inside the restaurant are used here with the addition of a long table overlooking the streets.
From local street food favorites of Isaw (chicken intestine) and Betamax (congealed blood) to international favorites like Beef Kofta; Burnt Bamboo features 12 meat options, 12 glazes, and your option of rice or salads, each catering to a different budget and palette. You can even create fusion meats of your own, like isaw that tastes like Korean Barbecue!
How do you personalize your meals? For CargoFish, you first choose your beer-battered protein. Dory is the affordable choice, while Cod (which they source abroad) is their bestseller. Next comes two side dishes: proper fish and chips or even a slaw salad, to name a few. And finally, the dipping sauce. If you want authentic Fish and Chips, go for the tartar, though they also have other adventurous options available, like honey jalapeno or chip shop curry.
The style of Burnt Bamboo is slightly different. While you get two pieces of CargoFish’s protein, you have the freedom to get as many sticks as you want from Burnt Bamboo since you are charged per piece. Local street food like chicken feet and isaw are sold at entry-level prices, while the moderately priced options include pork and chicken skewers.
The premium ones, on the other hand, include fancier meats like prawns and beef tenderloin. The next step lies in choosing your preferred glaze, which includes a variety of local and international favorites: Korean BBQ, Argentinian Chimichurri, Vietnamese Nuoc Cham and Indonesian Satay, to name a few. Bestsellers include their original sauce and the Japanese Teriyaki sauce for those who like things sweet. You can also choose between salad and rice. Of course, you’re also free to just enjoy the barbecued meats as is!
Here are some of the options from both CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo that we sampled during our visit:
Betamax with Dirty Mayo + Pork Barbecue with Hot Sauce + Garlic Longganisa with Teriyaki Sauce on Salad
Taking each skewer individually, we started off with the Betamax with Dirty Mayo. It’s exotic for a first-timer like myself who has never had congealed blood. Surprisingly, it was not bad. Yes, the texture was chewy, but it didn’t have that aftertaste I was anticipating. Plus, the mayo dip adds a creaminess that blends the flavors together.
Both the Pork Barbecue with hot sauce and Garlic Longganisa with Teriyaki Sauce are my favorites — the sour-spiciness of the hot sauce that reminds me of Tabasco goes really well with the smoky flavors of the pork, while the Garlic Longganisa blends sweet gingery flavors with garlic for an aromatic experience.
Cod with Tartar Sauce + Slaw Salad + Proper Chips
Unlike our adventurous tryst with Burnt Bamboo’s skewers, CargoFish’s Fish and Chips are something more familiar. You get a crispy beer-battered fish that’s seasoned just right. Dip it in creamy tartar sauce and pair it with their proper chips: thickly sliced potato wedges deep fried to a golden brown. And if you want some acidity to temper these rich flavors, squeeze some lime over the fish! It sounds simple, but it’s close to the real Fish and Chips that you can find in London!
Isaw with Original Sauce + Pork Barbecue with Teriyaki Sauce + Sausage and Onion with Chimichurri and Rice
Back to the exotic choices of Burnt Bamboo, we now get isaw in a savory glaze paired with pork barbecue made sweet with the Japanese Teriyaki sauce glaze. The Sausage and Onion skewer is the more exotic option, as it features slices of frankfurters with onions coated in an earthy chimichurri sauce. What’s notable about their isaw is that it is cleaned well before cooking, which really has an impact on the taste and consistency. The rice is a great addition because we really can’t have a meal without any carbs to fill us up!
Our visit to CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo wasn’t complete with a few takeaway options: repeat orders of the combinations served to us.
Whether you’re on Team Fish and Chips, Team Barbecue, or want a bit of both, CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo can accommodate your every craving!
CargoFish and Burnt Bamboo
Doña Julia Vargas Ave, Pasig
0977 674 8358
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CargoFishPH / https://www.facebook.com/burntbambooph
Instagram: @CargoFishph / @burntbambooph