SHAKE SHACK, the burger chain that promises a taste of New York, is going local — for one day only.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the New York chain is serving up its collaboration with chef Jordy Navarra, the founder of Toyo Eatery, currently the country’s best restaurant (according to Asia’s 50 Best List where it is ranked No. 42). Mr. Navarra received training in the UK’s The Fat Duck and Bo Innovation. This marks the chain’s first collaboration in the Philippines.
The collab features the Chicken and Cheek BBQ (P595), an all-natural, cage-free crispy chicken thigh, hand breaded and dredged in Panaderya Toyo’s sourdough batter, topped with Toyo Eatery’s pork jowl, BBQ sauce, and a pickle medley of atsarang papaya (papaya pickles), red onions, burong mangga (fermented mangoes), cucumber and aruy-uy (a local chili pepper), all served on a non-GMO potato bun. The pork jowl is from black pigs that are pasture-raised in a farm in Batangas (the pigs are also antibiotic and hormone-free). This sandwich is paired with Inasal Fries (P325): crinkle-cut fries dressed in Toyo Eatery’s inasal mayonnaise, topped with garlic chips, and served with fresh calamansi and vinegar chili dip. A rather shocking selection (and in pink too), is the Rosella and Lambanog Lemonade (P275), a mix of their own rosella syrup (syrup made from a species of the hibiscus plant) paired with local coconut sap liquor. For dessert, they have the Tsokolate at Tostadong Bigas Concrete (P355), made with frozen chocolate custard blended with Toyo Eatery’s classic toasted rice pudding, candied Palawan cashews, and candied cacao nibs. The frozen custard is made with real cane sugar, cage-free eggs, and milk from dairy farmers who pledged never to use artificial growth hormones. The toasted rice is made with local organic black rice from Capas, Tarlac.
Shake Shack has collaborated with some of the most influential chefs in the world, including Danny Yip of The Chairman (Hong Kong), Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den (Tokyo), David Chang of Momofuku (New York), Kang Mingoo of Mingles (Seoul), and Dominique Ansel (New York).
For his part, Mr. Navarra says, “I’m a big fan of Shake Shack,” in an interview during a preview earlier this week — he said that when he gets cravings, he reaches for their burgers and fries. Furthermore, “I enjoy eating a lot of the chicken sandwich. For me, I wanted to explore with the chicken,” which was why this is the menu item he played around with. “With the Shake Shack canvas, their base is really good ingredients and cooking the right way. At its most basic, masarap na siya (it’s already good),” he said.
“It’s cool that we can share the Filipino product and the local flavors with an international brand like Shake Shack,” he said. “For me, it’s a nice way to think that the Filipino perspective is very relevant with brands like Shake Shack.”
Should you line up for this on Saturday? Definitely. Not only would it cost a fraction of Toyo’s tasting menu, but this reporter ate things I had never eaten before (the atsara and the buro, for example; not to mention a barbecued pork cheek in a chicken sandwich), and enjoyed it. It’s definitely an experience.
As we’ve mentioned, Mr. Navarra’s Toyo Eatery is currently at the top of the country’s long list of restaurants. He teased about a new concept coming soon (though it’s still under wraps). “For me, it’s just trying to get better every day.”
The line for the sandwich on Saturday, Nov. 11, starts at 9 a.m. at Shake Shack Central Square BGC, Taguig. The dishes are only available while supplies last. The first person in line will receive exclusive Shake Shack x Toyo Eatery merch from the collaboration, while the first 30 dine-in customers will receive a limited edition Shake Shack x Toyo Eatery bucket hat (Mr. Navarra is fond of them). — Joseph L. Garcia