MANILA -- Before hole-in-the-wall restaurants specializing in smoked ribs and brisket started popping up all over the city, there was The Smoking Joint, a small eatery known for succulent smoked meats hidden away in BF Homes in Paranaque.
To the delight of southern barbecue fans in Makati, The Smoking Joint has opened a more accessible branch at the Green Sun Building along Pasong Tamo Extension. The new restaurant is more spacious and has a relaxed feel. And unlike the BF Homes original, this has a bar that serves alcohol and signature cocktails.
Besides the smoked meats, the expanded menu of the Makati branch features more appetizers, mains and dessert, emphasizing that The Smoking Joint is not just about pork and beef.
Take for instance, the Duck Salad, smoked duck with lettuce and dressing made of hoisin and Caesar’s. This is a great way to start a meal, with the dressing’s tangy-sweetness nicely bringing out the meat’s smokiness.
For bargoers, there's The Smoking Joint’s version of the dynamita -- the Jalapeno Popper. It’s like a panko-crusted arancini with bits of jalapeno mixed in with a side of homemade blue cheese sauce. The spice hits after a while and then just pleasantly lingers.
New mains include the corned beef sisig and the smoked wings.
The corned beef sisig has both deep-fried pork face and bits of homemade smoked corned beef. The result is sisig with the crunch of the pork mingling with the tenderness of the corned beef. These are served with a side of their in-house flat pan de sal.
The smoked wings, meanwhile, were a joy to eat.
The menu still highlights the trademark brisket and ribs. Though served with dips or additional sauce, diners can enjoy the smoked meats' unadulterated smokiness and tenderness on their own.
Pulled pork can be ordered as a main or as a sandwich. The pulled pork sandwich is served open-faced and topped with coleslaw on flat pan de sal.
Smoked poultry also makes its way to the menu. The Smoking Joint’s smoked chicken comes as wings, quarters or halves.
The wings are served as appetizers. Unlike fried chicken wings which take some effort to chew and suck the meat from the bones, these just slide off with the slightest tug.
The halves and quarters come with coleslaw, chimichurri and flat pan de sal.
Supporting the mains is an array of side dishes. Recommended are the gooey Mac and Cheese and the Bibingka Corn Bread, which is prepared in a banana leaf akin to bibingka that adds additional flavor and fragrance.
Another new item is dessert in the form of Calamansi Cream Pie, The Smoking Joint’s version of key lime pie. I thought it was more of a cheesecake because of the Graham crust. It’s refreshing tartness acting like a palate cleanser for after meal drinks.
The Smoking Joint’s bar holds its own in terms of available alcohol. It has its own craft pale ale, which I thought was a very comfortable beer to drink, smooth without the cloying aftertaste I associate with some other craft beer pale ales.
The bar has three signature cocktails. The smoked cocktail was the Smoking Gun, while the Cam Together is made with kamias syrup and Jack Daniel's.
My favorite was the Keep of The Grass, a concoction with Bacardi and matcha syrup.
Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. with special offers on Heineken, Super Dry, Cerveza Negra and The Smoking Joint's signature cocktails