By Angelo G. Garcia
Trendy wooden tables and steel chairs, foosball tables, UNO cards and board games on each table, lawn beer pong, and background music composed of songs from the latest Top 40. This restaurant has a very Millennial vibe, a kind of eatery one would see at a hip neighborhood or at one of the metro's bustling food hubs. But no, this restaurant is located inside a mall.
Rackshack, situated at the restaurant row on the fifth floor of SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, is as modern as it gets, but it remains rooted in tradition. It is in fact the "cool and younger brother" of an institution, Racks. Known for its barbecue ribs, Racks is eyeing the goldmine that is the Millennial market and its eating out habits. The restaurant wanted to rebrand itself but instead it came up with a new concept.
"We were thinking of doing this to the Rack's brand itself, but we realized that if we did something like this to Rack's, where you see this industrial, loud music, beer-serving type of place, we're going to end up intimidating our Rack's diehard fans who are there every weekend with their families. So we just decided to develop a cool concept and call it something else with familiar Rack's roots," explains Chukri Prieto, Rackshack founder.
The new concept is indeed quite like Racks, though it is not quite the same. Besides the interiors, its menu, although different, still has familiar Racks flavors.
The ribs have a Racks signature to them, especially if you douse it with the Mother Sauce, which is really the original Racks barbecue sauce with minor tweaks. But on each table, there are five different sauces customers can choose from--Mother Sauce, Spicy Mother Sauce, Kansas Sauce, Carolina Gold, and Hoisin Sauce. Chukri says that they want to give diners the freedom to enjoy the ribs their own way.
"If you know Racks, you'll notice that the taste is familiar, but with a twist. We want to show off our range of sauces. We have a blend here that is from the original Racks as well as the spicy. But if you want something sweet, tangy, or Asian, we have them, too," he says.
The Kansas has a sweet and spicy blend while the Carolina Gold has a tangy hit, because of its mustard base. The Hoisin Sauce, on the other hand, gives the ribs an Asian flavor.
Apart from the ribs some of the must-try dishes are the fried chicken, crispy and moist breaded chicken paired with gravy, caramelized onions, and smoke oil; the street corn salad inspired by Mexican street food elote, served in salad form with crunchy corn chips; the creole garlic shrimp, which is the restaurant's take on Southern US flavors; and the carnitas plate, a plate of tender beef barbecue doused in flavorful Mexican sauce.
There are also local craft beers for diners to enjoy, including Engkanto craft.
"Barbecue is global now so I don't want to be stuck in a certain box. There's a bit of strictness or pretentiousness involved with the others, which impose a right way of eating. I want to take that guess work and shyness out of the way. Just come here, relax, have a good meal, and enjoy yourself," says Chukri.
Rackshack, Level 5, The Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, BGC, Taguig City / Twitter and Instagram @rackshackph