Mactan, Cebu: Island Hot Wings
There is an interesting item in Island Hot Wings‘ mostly chicken wings menu. The 60-seater Mactan restaurant calls it ‘Makatagam‘ or ‘Enough’ when you loosely translate it in English.
It is a fair warning I’d say as these unassuming babies are glazed with ghost pepper, one of the hottest chilis in the world. Wikipedia says that it scores a million Scoville heat units or around 400 times hotter than the Tabasco sauce.
During my recent visit at Island Hot Wings, I hesitated to try the Makatagam at the onset. But I gave in to the challenge anyway. It was not mind-numbing spicy at all, but I do remember begging for glasses of water afterwards.
While the experience was quite memorable, I’d still prefer the original flavor though. It was lip-smacking good, demanded a few refills of rice and best paired with a bottle of ice-cold beer. Island Hot Wings’ take on this classic is for me the best among the versions offered by the various ‘unli-chicken wings’ places in these parts.
I also couldn’t believe that myself as my friend, who is one of the restaurant’s owners, is actually an electronics engineer by profession and not a chef. He even said that he and his partners only googled the recipes for their chicken wings’ flavors and then made a lot of experiments in the kitchen afterwards.
I then suggested that they add my favorite ‘Parmesan wings’ which their competitors happen to serve. My friend admitted that they have considered that creamy flavor before, but they would like to focus on their current options in the meantime. They also decided not to burden their target market with too many choices in the menu.
That strategy must have worked as they were able to open a second branch in a little over a year. They are now eyeing a third in Cebu City and from the looks of it, they are on the right track. If business is this good, then my unsolicited advise regarding the Parmesan wings can certainly wait.
Over all, I think there is a lesson or two here for fake food critics like myself. For one, coming up with a restaurant will never be a walk in the park. The menu development is just one piece of the puzzle. There are a slew of things to consider – government permits to be approved, reliable suppliers to source and right wages and benefits to pay for the crew, among many, many others.
So the last thing these brave entrepreneurs would like to read after service is an unnecessarily scathing review or a patronizing blog feature or worse, that their restaurant is just another #Instagrammable spot in the city.
Finally, I realized that you really don’t need culinary credentials just to come up with a good chicken wings recipe or even a restaurant for that matter. Such was the case for Island Hot Wings. The team, my friend included, had a clear vision from the start. They stuck stubbornly with that and sometimes in life, that’s all that really matters.
As of this posting, Island Hot Wings offers unli-chicken wings, rice and iced tea for only Php 248.
Island Hot Wings – The Outlets at Pueblo Verde
Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) 2
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
Island Hot Wings – Marina Mall
Mactan Export Processing Zone 1
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
Operating hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
For inquiries and reservations: +6332 4951124
Disclosure: The blogger would like to thank Island Hot Wings for the many restaurant invites. Even so, he maintains full editorial control of this feature.