One of my true guilty pleasures (although it shouldn’t be guilty, really) is barbeque. I like any form of it, whether it is American, or Pinoy or by way of any other country. The art of the que is genius, and creates some of the most complex layers of flavor from any cooking technique, because of how the direct flame interacts with the meat. It becomes smoky and robust, and the sauce, whatever it may be, turns into singed, meaty caramel. In Manila, we respect the art of our bbq, but the foreign options haven’t permeated our food culture yet. We may have rib places, but from all the trends we’ve imported, barbeque is a bit of a lost form. Which is a shame because it can produce spectacularly delicious results.
This is why talk of the Smoking Joint excited me. It’s only one of a handful of places that are a tribute to the smoke, and its location in food strip Aguirre in BF made me think that the place would have promise. The concept is a little bit too-cool (Smoking Joint, and they open at 4:20? Get it??) but the place has all the industrial markings of current restaurant concepts without being too overbearing. It’s all wood and bits of metal, bare and appropriate for a place that churns out barbeque. Another good sign is the smoker out in front, showing off to customers the work that they do here.
The menu is short, which must be appreciated for a place like this—brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and that’s it. There are a handful of sides which all sound comforting, and a few sandwiches which use cuts and meat from the barbeque. To keep it even less complicated, there are only two sauces: sweet or spicy, and I’m inclined to appreciate the straightforwardness of the place. It is bold, and simple, which I love.
When your plates come to you, you’ll note that it’s good value for money. The portions are generous, and the food was generally satisfying, with a few minor details that could be fine-tuned all over. The spicy sauce is much more complex, and infinitely tastier than its sweet counterpart, which is a little forgettable, maybe even a tad watery. It is something you could eat by itself, a deep-tasting, slightly sugared and piquant mix that must be poured all over meat. The brisket, which I’d been itching to eat, had good flavor but was a little more dry than I’d like. The ribs were incredibly moreish, the type that has you fingers-deep in sauce, and leaves you with a sticky chin. It didn’t exactly fall off the bone, but the meat and skin was well-smoked it hardly mattered. What was genius was their sweet potato mash, covered in gooey cheese and dotted with kernels of corn. It was smart thinking, and a delicious starchy side too. Even the cornbread was pretty good at soaking up all the juices.
The food, I must say, is quite good for Aguirre. I can just imagine what wonders it would do if it were somewhere in Burgos, with tons of inebriated people reaching for kilos of brisket to soak up the alcohol.