John Rodriguez could easily go for an entirely different career.
He could have become a corporate executive, sell insurance, or sit behind the desk punching numbers in a regular 9-to-5 job.
Instead, the young man opts to do what a growing number of young people his age are doing: put up a business. And it’s not just any business. It is the kind of business that could spell doom in a city known for its incredible food and discriminating palate.
Smart, good-looking, and incredibly driven, John plowed on with his business venture, a cozy restaurant that serves nothing but chicken wings.
Forget about the generic two- or three- flavor options in other chicken wings outlets.
East Wings, located at Villa Angela East Block, offers not one, two, three flavors of wings, but a smorgasbord of seven flavors: spicy sriracha, garlic parmesan, honey mustard, barbecue, mango jalapeno, and original.
Most people swear by the spicy sriracha, but our marketing head swore by the mango jalapeno which she describes as an intriguing combination of sweet (from the mangoes) and heat (from the peppers).
The mango jalapeno, in particular is unique to East Wings, something that John is proud to reveal to DNX.
“The inspiration for the mango jalapeno is from Wingstop, when went to the US. They have a flavor called spicy habanero,” John says. The li’l guys are rather hard to find though, so John instead tweaked the recipe replaced habanero with jalapeno, the supplies of which he has delivered regularly from Los Angeles via an aunt.
It does not disappoint.
And, customers tell DNX, the place does not scrimp. The wings themselves are juicy (“We have a special kind of batter for our chicken wings, and our customers say that have not tasted anything like it,” John avers), and the secret there apparently is because East Wings does not pre-cook its food.
“Everything is made to order; we cook the wings as soon as the orders come in,” he says.
Risky move but great decision.
The wings come nice, plump, and juicy, and in a flavor you have chosen.
NO TRAINING, NO PROBLEM
The remarkable thing about it is that John himself has no formal training in cooking. It’s just that his father would often challenge him and his siblings to cook for him and the family.
His papa, he says, used to work for a Chinese restaurant as cook. He would be so tired at the end of the day that he would relegate the cooking duties to others in the household.
John remembers how he, cookbook in hand, would try to replicate dishes that his papa would approve. He would invariably create something spicy, which would earn a thumb’s up from his father.
Apart from that, John grew up in a household where family bonding would not be complete without food (typical Pinoy). He remembers his cousins, and aunts, and uncles coming over for potluck lunch, swapping anecdotes and recipes over hot rice and home-cooked meals.
Food memories, like lola’s pangat, somehow made its way among his favorites.
LONG LINES = QUALITY FOOD
His natural propensity for cooking has earned John his proverbial stripes, as people recognize how seriously good East Wing’s wings are. And the unli offer, a favorite shtick of restos to entice people into ordering, is well put to good use here, with customers raving how, with a mere P199, they can have all the wings that their stomachs can accommodate.
Satisfied customers keep coming back for second, third, fourth, helpings. Sometimes, the place is soooo full, people had to wait in line for hours before it’s their turn to be seated.
But wait, the people did, and continue doing.
There is, for them, nothing more satisfying than biting into that succulent piece of meat that East Wings offers.
No small feat for a venture that is just one-and-a-half years old, managed by people with very little to no formal training in cooking.
For East Wings’ sukis, there’s no place they would rather be on a weekend, while nursing a bottle of beer, or ice-cold coke. Place is homey, cozy, and the chicken is just so darn good.