Manileños have been keeping up with the Korean culture fever, eating their way through the frenzy thanks to tons of relatively affordable K-BBQ restos that have been popping up in the city like Hydra’s heads. And it seems the new trendy saying “Tara Samgyup” — “let’s eat samgyupsal” — won’t be ending anytime soon.
A peculiar sight in Tomas Morato, Quezon City — where visually cool eateries are visible at every corner — is this new restaurant with an all-pink design: Pinkbird.
It’s a Korean restaurant and dessert cafe, but mostly it’s a shrine to millennial pink. The place has been trending on social media lately, no doubt because millennials love shooting Instagram shots with that shade of pale pink that was named after them.
It’s pink all over and the place is made even brighter by the light bulbs hanging on its ceiling.
We went there at night but it’s probably even more ‘grammable in the afternoon because it was designed so that sunlight can shine through the windows.
The restaurant has 22 murals designed by local artists, most of whom also created the artworks at the Star City amusement park in Pasay City. It has all sorts of artworks: angel wings, a giraffe, and a monkey taking a selfie artwork among others.
We quickly found, though, that the place is clearly banking on the “aesthetic factor” and not much else.
We tried the restaurant’s unlimited Korean pork and beef option, which goes for PHP499 (US$9.45) per person. We made sure to order meat of various cuts and marinated flavors, but they were all underwhelming.
Unlike other K-BBQ spots, this one only offers only one dipping sauce — the ssamjang, a thick and mildly spicy sauce that’s mostly made with soybean paste. This is unfortunate because the meats we tried — hangjeongsal (pork mash), saengdeungsim, yangyum pork, and the Pinkbird bulgogi — were bland on their own.
The place didn’t have smoke extractors, either, so tables remain smokey throughout meals.
Most of what we ordered tasted the same, even the bulgogi — which is supposed to be marinated — lacked flavor or dimension.
Their bulgogi dubbab (PHP300/US$5.68), which is a Korean soy garlic beef with rice, was the only thing that was done well — the meat was tender, sweet, and cooked just right.
But, there was a downside to that one, too: a 40-minute wait. We asked the staff for it three times and found out that that one of them forgot to place our order.
We also tried the mango cheese bingsu (shaved ice dessert) (PHP200/US$3.78), the strawberry shake (PHP165/US$3.12), and the Pinkbird milk tea (PHP110/US$2.08) from the dessert cafe.
The mangoes for the mango cheese bingsu were sour and the cream it was topped with was semi-solid and not smooth.
The strawberry shake only had a faint taste of strawberry and tasted more like flavored water. We returned it to the cafe with our feedback, and got another version with added strawberry syrup. It didn’t help much.
The Pinkbird milk tea was average, too — not sweetened enough, and the pearls weren’t chewy, the way they should be.
In an interview with Coconuts Manila, Pinkbird’s marketing manager Bryan Olano acknowledged the restaurant’s weaknesses.
“We are still lacking in terms of the service, which is why we’re sincerely sorry [for the inconveniences]. We can’t accommodate everyone. We’re all rattled. Even if it’s not my job to serve [customers], I still do so,” he said in Filipino.
“A few days ago, someone posted about our restaurant and we trended online,” Olano shared. “So when people call the waiter’s attention, we do our best to help one another.”
Olano said that when they opened on Nov. 8, they were only getting around 100 to 120 guests per day. Ever since they went viral on social media, they’ve been having over 200 customers per day.
“If you noticed, our griller isn’t that nice yet. We’re still in the trial and error phase,” he added.
He shared that they plan to add smoke extractors and more dipping sauces for their unli-meat deal by December this year or January next year for their grand launch.
“We don’t want to be a mediocre Korean restaurant, we want to serve high-quality [food] because, at the end of the day, we just want to satisfy our customers,” he added.
According to Olano, they also plan to have a dance and photo studio on the second floor. Fun idea — but maybe look elsewhere for your K-BBQ fix for now.
Pinkbird is at 12 Scout Borromeo Street, South Triangle, Quezon City
Open Monday to Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Phone: +63 966 832 7667