Breezy afternoon air, a relaxed state of mind, a mellow crooner on the airwaves. Surfboards tacked onto walls, used as tables, adorn the ceiling as art. A television loops surfing videos, while framed photos display bikini-clad, sunkissed ladies frolicking by the sand. Dining al fresco, I turn around to face a complete opposite scenario -- a carpark lies ahead, where I'd imagine a sandy shore to be. Instead of a beach with crashing waves, there's a sea of cars buzzing to and fro Ortigas Avenue. I'm whisked back to the city. But with a little imagination, a dose of sunshine, and a plate full of chicken wings from Sunrise Buckets, I'm back to my chill out, happy-beachy mode again.
Where the sun always shines
Sunrise Buckets is a sibling affair, the first restaurant venture of sisters Bridget Co and Abi Co-Haw. According to Bridget, they decided to open up a casual buffalo wings hangout in the city after their many travels abroad. They were hankering for a place serving chicken wings as lip-smacking as the ones they've tried in US and Canada. "And we love the beach," adds Bridget, emphasizing on the word 'love.' So putting the two together -- beach and wings -- here in the city, is what Sunrise Buckets is all about.
The sisters themselves designed the restaurant, which is decked in a hodgepodge of surf and beach themed items. Surfing videos, beach photographs, handwritten wall art all contribute to the laidback vibe of this place. At night, Sunrise Buckets turns into the chill out resto-bar of choice in Greenhills perfect for those craving the wings and beer combination alongside wearing flipflops, with your favorite reggae and acoustic songs playing in the background. Pose by the 'surfing wall' where a surfboard is tacked by the floor and photo of a huge wave is plastered behind you. Know about the different parts of the surfboard with their display on one wall describing each part and its purpose. There's a lot of things your eyes can take in while you wait for your food orders to arrive, so feel free to explore the place, browse through magazines, or have that silly photo-op of you riding that huge blue wave.
Of wings and lip-smackin' things
Sunrise Buckets categorize their different flavored chicken wings into three: Awesome, Wipeout, and Cloud 9. These are grouped according to taste as well as price (they price their wings by weight and not by piece).
Sunrise Buckets' chicken wings price guide
Awesome wings are flavors that favor the Filipino palate, with either classic or familiar flavors to please the tastebuds; there's Smokin' BBQ, Juan's Buffalo Wings and Crispy Wings in this category. Nothing too spicy or bold here. Under the Wipeout group they've got Sunrise Original, Hickory, Teriyaki, and Real American Buffalo Wings (customize to taste: mild/hot/extra hot). I am told these are the flavors that the sisters love, and flavors that are popular at the restaurants they'd frequent during their trips to Canada and US. Lastly, Cloud 9: flavors for the adventurous foodie, and flavors more unique. There's Jack Daniel's, Garlic Parmesan, Honey Jalapeno, Ultimate Crazy Hot, and Honey Pacifica. Lots to choose from, so everyone can pick a flavor to please whatever mood and taste you have.
Before we sample the wings, we tickled our tastebuds with sweet beverages first. There's the staple (but not instant) iced tea in their Sunrise Iced Tea (P55), and for the sweet tooth, a blushing pink glass of Strawberry Float (P95) that will make you think of lounging by the beach. The perfect match for wings for me, though, would be their Bundaberg Root Beer Float (P115) -- root beer served in an unopened bottle alongside a tall glass filled with ice and vanilla ice cream.
Sunrise Iced Tea
Root Beer Float
If you prefer your chicken served as a sandwich, there are three burgers to choose from -- Hickory Chicken Burger (P185), BBQ Smokin' Chicken Burger (P175), and Crispy Buffalo Chicken Burger (P185). We tried the third one, and was pleased by the heftiness of the patty and the serving -- it comes served with fries and a sour cream dip. The tangy zing though is not as powerful as I expected, although this will please the palate of those who shy away from spicy fare. The flavors aren't overwhelming, and the burger fills you up pretty quick.
Crispy Buffalo Chicken Burger
Another little twist I like about Sunrise Buckets (aside from its beach and surf-theme appeal) is how they provide customers free plastic gloves when they dine in at the restaurant. I can't count how many times I skip devouring wings at a resto because I'd be too lazy to take my time washing hands (and also risk the temporary stain on my fingers). I often eat wings with a fork and knife in these cases, which I don't really find suitable to get that real down-home, chicken wing experience. So with plastic gloves, I can nibble away then remove the gloves to come home with untainted hands.
Put on gloves to eat wings cleanly with your hands
A bucket comes with your name on it
First wings we sample are Smokin' BBQ (Awesome Wings - P145 for 1/2 pound, P275 for 1 pound, P175 for Boneless). I personally am not fond of barbecue defined the Pinoy way (glazed red and sweet, think kiddie party food), so I was pleased to taste their barbecue version to be more of the dark, soy kind. The skin's crisp and a bit bubbly in texture, and was a delight to bite into.
The Sunrise Original (Wipeout Wings - P150 for 1/2 pound, P285 for 1 pound, P195 for Boneless) was a classic for me. It's New York style, orange and tangy, paired best (and served) with a sour cream dip. Like the burger version, the tanginess is mild, for those who don't like it too zesty. This is the kind of wings I won't get tired of eating and can literally finish off a bucket in a sitting.
We then tried two more flavors, this time from the Cloud 9 (P220 for 1/2 pound, P385 for 1 pound, P255 for Boneless) category: Jalapeño Wings and Jack Daniel's Wings. The Jalapeño Wings were true to its name -- you get the flavors of that sensationally hot green chili pepper in every single bite of the chicken wings. At first bite you have that one second interlude before your tastebuds meet the hotness; once they do, the spice level just amps up, embracing your entire mouth. And if this is still not as hot as you want it to be, why not order a piece of Jalapeño (P20/piece) to bite on in between bites of chicken? This is how true-blue Canadians have their wings, Bridget told me.
Lastly, we tried drunken chicken wings. Well, at least just a teensy bit tipsy with a glaze of Jack Daniel's whiskey. The Jack Daniel's Wings are crispy fried chicken that are coated with an original sauce blended with the signature whiskey. The result is sweet, a bit smokey, and overall delicious. It comes with more of the special sauce in a sauce container when you order, so go generous and pour everything on your chicken!
Jack Daniel's Wings
Our lovely bones meet the bone collector
If you're craving for a little breather from the drab grays of the urbanscape, a little trip to this restaurant can be your place to unwind. With relaxing music and surf atmosphere, you can check-in with your laid-back beach mode (flip flops are most welcome). Let Jack Johnson serenade you as you prep yourself with plastic gloves and indulge chicken wings and a bucketful of sunshine.
Bring the sunrise with you
Perhaps the beach vibe isn't for you, or you haven't found the time to take a trip to the Greenhills area for a taste of their chicken wings. No problemo -- Sunrise Buckets can come to you. I've been to two house parties in the last couple of months serving their lip-smacking wings, and they were a hit with the guests. My friend Mica's afternoon cookout was especially fun, as my beach babe of a friend defined what Sunrise Buckets is all about with an easy breezy afternoon, bright and sunny decor, all wrapped up in good vibes. She definitely brought the beach lifestyle to her backyard.
Order at least a day ahead by calling up Sunrise Buckets so you can bring the wings to your home and to your parties. Sunrise Buckets' chicken wings for delivery are available in bigger portions -- in party trays for 50 pieces (P1,055) and 100 pieces (P2,055). All orders for delivery come with dip. You can also inquire the restaurant about their special party packages where they will set-up their own space at your event venue to cook you their buffalo wings and serve it hot and fresh.