Last week, I was invited to attend the media launch of Mighty Quinn’s. Yes, the highly-rated barbecue place from New York is now here in Manila!
Mighty Quinn’s is a fast-casual bbq place that was named by New York Times as the highest-rated barbeque in New York, at 2 and a half stars, a rare feat for fast-casual restaurants. Soon after, New York Times also named Mighty Quinn’s as Most Prized Performer and the Top 10 Best Restaurants 2013.
It started as a stall in Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg open air market, where chef / pit master, native Texan, Hugh Mangum, sold out his barbecues to packed lines in 90 minutes. The reason this barbecue is a thing, aside from it being delicious, is that New York is not really known for barbecue. It is places like Texas and the other southern states that are famous for their barbecues, so no one really expected a spectacular barbecue out of New York.
But now, Mighty Quinn’s has created its own distinctive New York style barbecue.
Here is pit master Hugh Mangum himself telling us all about how Mighty Quinn’s started:
Here he is showing how big the Brontosaurus rib is in relation to his face
THE FOOD / REVIEW
The Megamall branch is a fast-casual affair, a mix of rustic and industrial, with brick and wood walls, metal chairs, and stainless steel fixtures.
Ordering is self-service, cafeteria-style.
Meats are sliced upon order:
HERE’S THE MENU:
I’ve already gone back to Mighty Quinn’s again, so my pictures will be a mix from the media launch and from when I actually dined there again.
During the media launch, I asked to try everything! Here, I have brisket (top left), spare ribs (above the coleslaw), pulled pork (beside the brisket), and burnt ends (below the rice). I requested a small portion of the sweet potato casserole (top left), and baked beans (lower left), a whole serving of dirty rice and potato salad (lower right). For drinks, I had the Peach Lychee Iced Tea.
The 24-hour slow cooked Brisket (P495) is the one that put Mighty Quinn’s on the map. It is tender and perfectly succulent. There’s a layer of fat on top melting onto the meat. Oh, heavenly!
My favorite is the Spare Ribs (P495) – Hugh implored us to eat it with our hands to fully appreciate the “snappiness” of the meat. According to Hugh, slow-cooked barbecue meats shouldn’t be “falling off the bone,” but should instead have that “snap” when you bite into it. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you take a bite!
That’s not a beer bottle at the back, that’s a bottle of barbecue sauce!
Would you look at that! Nom nom nom ribs nom nom nom… I’m getting hungry just looking at my own pictures of the ribs!
Pulled Pork (P485) – this was meltingly tender but not mushy. Drizzle with the barbecue sauce available on the table.
Burnt Ends (P495) – others thought it was really flavorful, but personally I was more into the spare ribs and brisket. The burnt ends are from, as the name implies, the more “burnt” side / edge of the barbecue. I thought the meat was drier, but that’s expected because it is “burnt”, but some people prefer it that way because the flavors are more concentrated, and it is actually the strongest-flavored dish I tried. Others at the table really loved it! If you like the “tutong” of rice or paella, you’ll probably like this.
Each order of meat includes some “veggies” – coleslaw, pickled celery, pickled onions, pickled cucumbers, and chilies. I liked the cucumbers and ate all of mine. Others said the chilies were delicious but very, very hot!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try the Brontosaurus both times, but others have told me that it was also really good. When I went back, I had my mind set on those Spare Ribs and Brisket! For me, those are the must-try’s and those were the ones I went back for.
For sauce lovers like me, Mighty Quinn’s has bottles of their barbecue sauce on the table, so you can put as much sauce as you want! Yipee!
The flavor profile of Mighty Quinn’s barbecue sauce is a bit on the vinegar-y side, with bold flavors. Those who prefer their food on the light and delicate side might find it a bit salty. I noticed that the meats were saltier than normal, well-seasoned, but still within the realm of delicious. This is not a complaint, just an explanation for those who may need to watch their salt. Personally, I found the bold flavors dialing up the taste to 11, giving a very nice flavor explosion in every bite, the opposite of bland! Very good. If it were a harmony, I would say it would be like the louder parts of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It is different from the sweet and milder barbecue sauces we usually have in the Philippines.
You have got to try the Dirty Rice! It is really good, and a perfect pair to the barbecue meats. Your meat order already includes a serving of either a sandwich (bread) or Dirty Rice. My suggestion is to go for the Dirty Rice! We were told that the Dirty Rice was especially developed to incorporate local ingredients like calamansi.
The Sides are quite different from what we normally see in other bbq restaurants. The Burnt Ends Baked Beans is really good – it is not your usual pork & beans – it is smokier and has more depth of flavor. This was actually my favorite siding, but I could only eat a few spoonfuls of this because the flavor is so strong. Best to share this with others. I actually suggest getting different sides per person and then just sharing, so you can taste everything and don’t get umay (taste-tired) from just one side.
The Potato Salad was also quite delicious – something different from the usual chicken potato salad! It is a potato salad but has a lot of onions, celery, meat bits that reminded me of bacon bits, and something spicy which I think were maybe celery seeds?
The Sweet Potato Casserole is delicious mashed sweet potato, sweet & creamy and topped with walnuts. Many in our table proclaimed this as their favorite side.
For dessert, we had Bread Pudding (P195). The bread pudding is soft and aromatic with wonderful autumn spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, etc… a bit sweet but the very creamy scoop of ice cream topping it tempers the sweetness. For drinks, go for the Peach Lychee.
So, you are using your fingers to eat ribs? Good for you! Don’t worry, because Mighty Quinn’s has a sink where customers can wash their hands:
Their restroom is still under construction as of this writing, but there’s a public one close by just across from the restaurant.
MIGHTY QUINN’S – IS IT WORTH IT?
Yes, it is! The average price of around P495 is a bit higher than your average barbecue joint in Metro Manila, but it already includes a serving of dirty rice, your choice of pickled vegetables, coleslaw, and a good-portioned serving of drool-worthy meat. It is a heavy meal.
The serving of meat might not look like a lot visually, but trust me, when you start eating it, it’s quite heavy and filling. For me, the P495 price tag is very sulit because:
- the barbecue is really good, very worth the price
- you can’t make this at home without special equipment and spending hours and hours and hours looking after slow-smoking meat, and there’s no guarantee that it will come out as good
- it already includes rice, coleslaw and pickles, and unlimited sauce.
If you’re a big group, it might be a better option to order by the pound, and get the bigger servings of sides.
Mighty Quinn’s in Manila is located at the 3rd floor of the Mega Fashion Hall in SM Megamall. It opened to the public last Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Check out their famous slow-smoked barbecues now!
The Mighty Quinn’s brand is brought in by the Standard Group, the people behind Yabu: House of Katsu, and the same group who brought In world-famous ramen, Ippudo to the Philippines.
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The Barat Queen
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