Spice Bird Boracay and the Best Chicken Skin of Your Life

I’m afraid of hypes. Or maybe not afraid, but … wary. When there’s too much excitement over one restaurant, it gets you high hopes and you expect too much—resulting in, more often than not, disappointment. The hysteria surrounding Spice Bird Grill in Boracay brought out the cynic in me at first, but when I got to try it during a one-night pop up dinner in Manila, I was converted into a believer. What they’re saying is true: they have the best bird in Boracay.

Which is not to say that I have sampled all piri piri chicken dishes in the island, but once you sink your teeth into their juicy Piri-Piri Chicken, or bite into a crackling Piri-Piri Chicken Skin, you’ll know that Spice Bird has something special. In this somewhat discreet D’Mall restaurant, the sauce is the star, and it can elevate nearly everything you can order from their menu.

Originating from Portuguese cuisine, the piri-piri sauce is actually made of the African bird’s eye chili, along with citrus fruits and a blend of other spices. At Spice Bird, they make their own signature sauce, which they use on most of their dishes, and they offer for free—and unlimited—to dine-in guests. Aside from the Original Piri-Piri, three other sauces are available: Garlic & Lime, Salsa Verde, and Hotbird Sauce, which is like the original, but fiercer. Should your visit be insufficient and you wish to take some home, all can be purchased by the bottle.

Don’t even think about getting anything else—you came here for piri-piri, so you must start with the Piri-Piri Chicken Skin (PhP95). This plate of crispy, fried strips of gold—or rather, chicken skin—come garbed in their homemade Original Piri-Piri sauce. Each crackle produced when I put a piece of skin between my teeth is like music; dipping into any of the sauces makes it a magical full concerto.

Dude, forget about my cheesy metaphors and just order this. PLEASE. This is the best chicken skin of your life.

The Pulpo Salad (PhP195) is another good choice for an appetizer, especially for lovers of octopus. The salad, made with chopped octopus, cucumbers, tomatoes, vinaigrette and a dash of piri-piri sauce, is refreshing, although a bit too fishy for me. Still, a nice break between bites of the chicken skin.

Spice Bird is the only place I’ve been to where it’s OK to pair a chicken appetizer with a chicken entrée, so you better get the Piri-Piri Chicken Board (PhP295 – quarter, PhP495 – half). The board is loaded with their signature Spice Rice, side salad, milky roll, veggie chips, and of course, chicken thigh or breast marinated in piri-piri sauce for 24 hours. I recommend getting the thigh-and-leg combo as this is juicier than the rib part.

The milky roll is delicious, the Spice Rice so addicting that I wanted to order more despite the already-generous serving on my plate. Enjoy it in whatever way you want—I personally like dipping each piece into a combination of Garlic & Lime and Original Piri-Piri. Absolutely lip-smacking!

Spice Bird also offers pork and shrimp boards, but I think it’s the chicken you need to try. In addition, they make a mean Piri-Piri Pulled Pork Sandwich (PhP295) that’s also an awesome choice especially if you don’t like rice. The pulled pork is braised for 12 hours, resulting in super-tender meat crammed between a Brioche bun alongside some pickled onions and cilantro. A solid sandwich!

For dessert, try their to-die-for Homemade Calamansi Cheesecake (PhP245), which is the result when perfect sweetness and perfect tartness fuse together. Don’t be fooled by its size—its denseness makes it easily shared by 3 people.

As the weather in Boracay can be too humid and hot, freshen up with their Mango & Mint Shake (PhP120), which not only perks up but also cleanses the palate. For something sour, get the Calamansi & Rose Syrup Shake (PhP120).

Some friends whom I pointed towards the direction of Spice Bird were not as impressed as I was, but I honestly think they didn’t tinker enough with the sauces. For me, one of the appealing qualities of this restaurant is the fact that it gives me a delicious base I can play with, then adjust according to my preference. Although the name seems to highlight the fowl, the actual stars are the sauces, and at Spice Bird, these are given a lot of thought. In general, this hyped little spot in D’Mall is one of the few that managed to deliver.

Spice Bird Grill
Unit 108 D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay (near the Ferris Wheel)
Budget: around PhP400-500/head

Do you like piri-piri? Where is your favorite chicken place in Boracay? In Manila?

My meal was sponsored by Spice Bird Grill. All opinions, however, are my own.

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