A new workspace in Poblacion, Makati gives mobile working a hip new headquarters, and it serves affordable Asian food to boot. Wokby 4900 has all the co-working space essentials: reliable wifi, charging stations, cool air-conditioning, and good coffee. That it's a full-blown restaurant offering quick bites, filling meals, and cocktails is a delicious plus.
The concept for Wokby 4900 has been brewing with the owners for two years, even before they found their space in Poblacion, Makati. Co-owner Patricia Cheung explains that they were inspired by Asian food in Europe, actually — they witnessed how wok cooking was much embraced, that Trish and her husband Jean-Paul thought of bringing back something like it in Manila. The couple already runs another co-working space, 59C in Paseo; and for this new hip sister restaurant, they partnered with Kian Kazemi, who helms a slew of restaurants, including Wokby's next door neigbor, Filipino restaurant Lobo. As for everything else in Wokby 4900, Cheung shares that it's a family effort too. The look and mood of the place was conceptualized by Jean Paul, while her brother is a furniture designer and her other brother has a printing business.
Reading Wokby 4900's menu is like going through the many cities of Southeast Asia, and tasting its different flavors and spices. Jean Paul came up with the idea of focusing on different Asian countries as inspiration for each dish, while Trish cooks up a storm in the kitchen to execute these ideas. "We also want to focus on the local dishes, like adobo and tapsilog, and we have a crispy pork bowl that's our take on tokwa't baboy," she adds.
Here are the top grub that await you at Wokby 4900 — so come hungry and chow, and even get your work done while at it:
Start off with Century Scotch Eggs (P190), Wokby's reinterpretation of the hard boiled dish from the UK. It gets Asian treatment, century egg covered with a layer of spiced burger meat that may remind you of embutido or kikiam. It's served with a trio of sauces — hoisin, aioli, and hot sauce — and this appetizer could pass off as your ulam if you order some rice on the side.
You can customize and build your own rice bowl at Wokby 4900, but their assorted Asian Built Bowls already provide great tried-and-tested combinations, like
Tokyo (Donburi – P290/full bowl, P155/half bowl): which comes with slices of addicting pickled cucumber that jives well with the teriyaki sauce of the beef and chicken.
For a little more heat, have a bowl of Seoul (Bibimbap – P320/full bowl, P180/half bowl, P250/no meat): their fried rice is made extra filling with tofu, mushrooms, bean sprouts, string beans, carrots, chopped cabbage, nori, and sesame seeds. The main proteins here are squid and chicken in Korean BBQ sauce, and the fried egg that sits on top of the bowl beside kimchi.
What better way to have a taste of Philippines in a rice bowl than a classic adobo? Wokby 4900's Manila (Adobo – P280/full bowl, P150/half bowl) has fried rice (same base rice for all bowls) tossed with young corn, chicharon, garlic, spring onion, and chicken and pork adobo with adobo gravy. Some pickled cucumbers and chutney add more tang and slight sweetness to this rice bowl.
The restaurant also serves Basic Built Bowls, which are also available in two sizes. Patricia Cheung shares that customers really like the Classic Mongolian (P290/P155) tossed with beef and chicken. It's a crowd pleaser, big spoonfuls of it does comfort and remind you of the classic bowls you hunkered down as a child. "Usually they order this since it has a little bit of everything," Patricia adds.
A personal favorite rice bowl at Wokby 4900 is suprisingly, their meatless option — proving again to the palate that a great mix of vegetables can satisfy your cravings. Try the Vegan (P220) bowl, bountiful with bean sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli, string beans, young corn, chopped lettuce, bell pepper, carrots, tofu, sesame seed, and spring onion. The savory sauce that ties everything together is simply delicious.
The restaurant's take on the Pinoy tokwa't baboy appetizer or bar chow comes in the form of a rice bowl: Tofu/Crispy Pork (P260). The pork is crispy like lechon kawali, and accompanying it are tofu, green chili, onions, and a drizzle of lechon gravy. A special vinegar is also served for dipping.
Thirsty? Wokby's signature cocktails are all refreshing, which is perfect for summer. They are also inexpensive, with Woktails priced at P190 each. Sip per city, like their rice bowls: they have drinks named Seoul (soju, yakult, bitters), Manila (mango rum with basil), and Bangkok (amaretto, rum, calamansi). These three were particularly lipsmacking on a sun-drenched afternoon.
Don't forget to save some space for dessert, too. A chocolate bar from your childhood gets a tempura twist with Deep Fried Cloud 9 (P50, add P40 for ala mode), while their Hopia ala Mode (P120) takes a homemade hopia mongo, then toasts and presses it. It's served warm, which makes a good pair with vanilla ice cream.
There's a chocolate cake here that's just a little more special than the classic kinds you grew up with. Wokby serves Lola’s Chocolate Cake (P170), a moist chocolate cake that rings in nostalgia in every forkful; it's as classic as they come. Get this slice of cake with two additional ingredients — a topping of crispy bacon and caramel drizzle — for an additional P40, for that interplay of salty and crunchy with every bite of the cake.
Visit Wokby 4900 at 4900 Durban Street, Poblacion, Makati. They are open daily from 11am to 3am, and deliver within Poblacion area. Rentable space and private rooms are available for work spaces and private parties. Call 0917-6759964, like on Facebook (/wokby4900), and follow on Instagram (@wokby4900).