I’ve been working out of Makati a lot lately, and one of my favorite hang out in the city is definitely the Poblacion area. A mix of excellent hole-in-the-walls, the red light district, dubious-looking bars, affordable hostels, shopping malls, and being a stone’s throw away from BGC, the place has a little bit of everything for everybody.
Enter WOKBy 4900. Situated along Durban Street, near Alchemy Bar, the fairly new hole-in-the-wall that opened in January is just the thing for backpackers renting out beds in one of the nearby hostels to get a good meal, while making the most of the co-working space which also includes air-conditioning, reliable wifi, charging stations, and pour-over coffee.
While the outside’s design aesthetic is one of zen, with the clean white walls and chill monkey statues guarding the entrance, the interiors on the inside are a jumble of tile, metal, wood, and stone, something like an eclectic uncle’s bachelor’s pad who like to take off to surf every weekend. What’s not to love? Owned by husband and wife team Jean Paul and Patricia Cheung, as well as restauranteur, Kian Kazemi, they brought the “wok concept” back in fashion with this up-and-comer offering a variety of bowls that take your tastebuds on a trip around Asia without having to leave your seat.
WOKBy has a lot of interesting things on the menu, but I find myself going back for their Asian Built Bowls for the past month, which can be full or half orders, depending on how hungry you are. Everything that is ordered is put together outside, so you still get that roadside meal vibe without having to worry about smelling like a barbecue pit when you leave. Yey!
The only pure noodle-based Asian Bowl on the menu is their Hong Kong or Wokmein (Php 250/ Full Bowl; Php 135 Half Bowl) which utilizes traditional egg noodles with bell peppers, leeks, and prawn crackers on the side, with your choice of chicken and/or siomai, all tossed in tausi sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This has a slightly sour taste, with the noodles absorbing all of the tausi flavor. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but this also happens to be Jericho’s favorite, minus the siomai, which he found when mixed with tausi sauce, a little off-putting. But two thumbs up for the chicken, so it really depends on what you like.
The Tokyo or Wokburi (Php 290/ Full Bowl; Php 155 half Bowl) is a mix of fried rice, mushrooms, bell peppers, chopped cabbage, coleslaw, and pickled cucumber, and you can choose between beef and/or chicken tossed in teriyaki sauce and finished with nori strips, spring onions, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. I really liked this combination of comfort food, and that they don’t skimp on the fried rice with bits of broccoli, making the meal quite filling. You can’t go wrong with either topping – both compliment the bowl quite well.
Wh I asked what their best-seller was, I was recommended the Bali or Wokgoreng Asian Bowl (Php 300/ Full Bowl; Php 170/ Half Bowl) made with fried rice, cubes of tofu, crispy anchovies, fish crackers, mixed nuts, pickled cucumber, and chicken and/or siomai in satay sauce topped with spring onions, sesame seeds and a fried egg. I was a bit disappointed in that I didn’t find it spicy enough (and really wanted more of the dilis!), but it is pretty decent considering we only got a half bowl. The siomai also tasted a lot better in this bowl compared to the Wokmein – the sauce really does make a huge difference.
Another half bowl we ordered was the Seoul or Wokbap (Php 320/ Full Bowl; Php 180/ Half Bowl; Php 250/ No Meat) made with fried rice, tofu, mushrooms, beansprouts, string beans, carrots, chopped cabbage, kimchi, and a choice of squid and/or chicken, tossed in Korean BBQ sauce with a fried egg and a smattering of sesame seeds on top. Even just the half bowl can be considered a full meal, with the fried egg filling me up for the rest of the afternoon.
The Bangkok or Currybowl (Php 300/ Full Bowl; Php 170/ Half Bowl) is my personal favorite, made with fried rice, mushrooms, tofu, broccoli, cucumber pickle, and chicken and/or shrimp in curry sauce with a smattering of cilantro and sesame seeds, as well as a wedge of lime on the side. This is brilliant in its simplicity, and tastes like a mild green curry, although I prefer mine with two sticks of chicken – you don’t really get much meat with the shrimp.
WOKBy 4900 is such a convenience for tourists and locals in the area who don’t want to spend too much on food and drinks while also wanting to make the most of the quiet neighborhood in the late afternoon to blog, touch base with family and friends over a decent wifi connection, as well as maybe get a bit of work done before they head out for the night. Pre-game with WOKBy’s simply cocktail concoctions or enjoy the sunset with a beer and bbq on their second floor. I’ll definitely be coming back here a few more times, and I suggest you do the same, too!
WOKby 4900 is located at 4900 Durban St., Poblacion, Makati and is open daily from 6pm to 4pm. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 917 675 9964.