Just a stone’s throw away from the glaring neon lights and sinister undertones of the infamous Burgos Street is a rising hub in the Poblacion area. Its unpretentious, laidback vibe, value-for-money food, and cheap booze are tip top reason why many flock here–from grown hipsters and overworked yuppies to budget backpackers and, sometimes, clandestine members of the elite. It’s exactly this type of atmosphere that has been attracting a new slew of entrepreneurs to this area often dubbed as Williams-Burgos or Backwell, and Kian Kazemi is one of them.
You may have come across him on T.V. (he had a few months’ air time on Pinoy Big Brother) or in one of Bench’s awaited underwear fashion shows, but Kian has put his modeling stints aside and focused something he was truly passionate about – food. Despite a culinary background, he admits that traveling is literally the spice to life. He tells us how his solo backpacking refined his taste buds, which fortunately, for us, was translated into this homey hole-in-the-wall gem.
Kite Kebab Bar has all the makings of a hit neighborhood spot. A picturesque façade that incorporates contemporary and natural elements (the tree up front was personally installed by him), and even more attractive interiors that show off an amalgam of Middle Eastern and Filipino knick knacks – a homage to Kian’s half Iranian, half Ilonngo lineage.
Everything about Kite is carefully curated, but by Kian himself, so sans the stiffness most hip restaurants unintentionally exude when going for a concept theme—from the endearing upcycled furniture to the hand-painted wall murals (by a self-taught 17 year-old prodigy, nonetheless). Even the menu was meticulously created by the owner himself which resulted in a very tapas, izakaya-style experience with reasonable prices.
Mediterranean street food is simple, with not much frills that really makes use of robust flavors and reenergizes the palate. Start off with the Hummus and Feta Cheese (Php 155) with homemade pita slices. The hummus is straightforward and still tastes much of its main ingredient, garbanzos, while the feta adds a kick and a complex texture.
Vegetarian Samosas (Php 99): Deep-fried puffs of savory vegetables. Best when dipped in their tomato-based salsa.
Tzatziki (Php 135): Refresh your palate with this cool mezze made with yogurt, bits of cucumber, mint, and paprika.
Tabouli Salad (Php 99): This unassuming salad is chockfull of super foods and ranked as one of the healthiest dishes, incorporating parsley, wheat bulgur, tomato, onions, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Falafel Salad (Php 125): A great play on taste, texture and color. A deep-fried falafel is mixed with sweet grapes, salty feta, olives, and tomatoes on a bed of greens.
Speaking of falafels, if you want them alone, you can order them in threes (Php 99). Not the falafels I’ve been used to, but they’re a delight to devour with a side of below zero beer. A crisp outer shell gives way to its chewy interior made of chickpeas and green herbs.
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