Two mugs of draft beer (P60 each), one dozen wings (P300)-- half of the Classic Buffalo kind; the other, whatever flavor my mood’s up to that time. These are all it takes to give two people, myself included, a great night at Wingman, The Collective.
This little corner of one of Makati’s most interesting mix of establishments is rarely empty at night. Past 7PM, tables are filled with multitasking people-- busy deboning their chickens, while taking part in a happy banter. A typical Friday evening usually houses a mix crowd: yuppies who just clocked out, a mini reunion of sorts, and friends catching up. Many prefer sitting in the lit area, where pop music videos are projected on the wall. Me? I like sitting in front of the below zero freezer by the bar-slash-counter where it is much dimmer and is slightly secluded. I’ve devoured most of my wings and laughed at many gossips while seated there. It being a prime location for people watching and close to where the servers huddle, the area makes up for the wonky table I still wish they’d fix soon.
But more than that happy, feel-good vibe that one could easily get from Wingman, are wing concoctions that could not be found elsewhere. These, more than anything, are the ones to blame (or thank) for their full house and many returning patrons, myself included.
For nights when I feet most chatty, I ask for half a dozen of Lemon Pepper wings. I don’t know how gossip and the zest of the lemon are related, but somehow, the flavor makes all the issues more interesting.
I love how it makes me extra animated while talking-- pausing and giggling all the time. I find it funny how my eyes squint because of the lemon just before I make a point. That tinge is addicting, trust me. I also like how it is hot, care of the peppers, but not too much that I need to interrupt myself with a glass of water in between my sentences.
But during the evenings when I find myself exhausted and deeply hungry from work, I order Honey Garlic.
These glossy babies are the most savory of the lot. Its sauce is thick, sweet, and riddled with some minced garlic. For some reason, I always feel fuller when I eat the garlic-ridden chicken. It must be because my Filipino tongue is wired to associate the strong flavor with "ulam", hence the feeling of having a complete meal sans the rice.
Honey Mustard wings, as I've discovered, is my instant pick-me-upper. But if it weren't for my friend who asked for it, I would probably not have known how much I love this flavor, especially during the days I find myself down.
Honey Mustard presents the flavors sweet and tangy in a totally different way. Just when I'm convinced that I'm in love with both the vinegar and lemon-based sauces for the wings, here comes the mustard, pleasing me in ways I've never been before. It's still vinegary, but the tartness clings thickly. The honey serves as buffer; it doesn't let the mustard dominate the overall flavor. I find it impossible not to feel happy when I'm eating this.
I also once tried the Garlic Parmesan, then deemed it to be the flavor I'm going for when I get bored with all the sweet and tangy ones.
The Garlic Parmesan is unlike those before mentioned, largely because it looks dry and sauce-less like a fried chicken. But dry, the wing is not. A bite into it will reveal that the garlicky succulence hidden inside. The Parmesan is also evident; they were obviously not scrimping on that ingredient.
But despite all of this experimenting, I make it a point that the other half of my dozen is drenched in my first-love: the Classic Buffalo sauce.
Half Garlic Parmesan, half Classic Buffalo
There's no lengthy spectrum of hotness in Wingman. They only have Medium, Hot, and Apocalyptic or Pinaka, and none of them are girly spicy, as how mean Buffalo wings should be. I'm happy with the spice level of Medium, I don't think my tongue will be pleased when I go for the Hot. This comes along with an in-house Ranch dip but the Bleu cheese dip that you can order for only P20 isn't the watered down kind, so I suggest better go for it.
A dire lover of buffalo wings, I frequent almost all of the joints that offer the second best part of poultry (thighs still rank first) in my preferred zesty, mildly spicy, New York style sauce. There are a lot of those joints nowadays, but not one comes close to the quantity and quality of options I get from Wingman along Malugay. With nine different flavors, only Wingman can keep up with my mood swings and cravings for each night.