Many travelers coming from different towns and cities in the west coast of Leyte just visit Baybay for one reason—to satisfy their cravings with Minggay’s Chicken Barbecue. I also make sure that all of my visitors get to experience their famed specialty and I personally take pride that it’s gonna be one of the best-tasting chicken barbecues they have ever tasted.
It has been 47 years since Dominga “Minggay” Bulawan Piamonte established the first barbecue house in Baybay. In a talk with Miss Christiana “Inday” Piamonte, daughter of Minggay and current manager of the barbecue house, the reason why they are still the most preferred name when it comes to best-tasting chicken barbecue for many years is beyond its savory and smokey flavor.
The structure and aesthetics of the barbecue house is pretty basic, almost unembellished and is just made from light materials—primarily coconut lumber and plywood. Just because it’s famous, don’t expect striking furnishings; it’s just similar to any ordinary Filipino barbecue houses especially in the provinces.
They have custom-made grills with burning coals, where their staff standing in a cloudy haze of smoke leisurely fanning the grill area. And if you walk closer and get past the haze, you’ll see that there are wire grates over the coals holding sizzling skewers of golden, juicy chicken barbecues.
You Need to Value Customers
“Some of our tables might be old and clunky but we use high-quality china and utensils and our customer service is not inferior”, Ate Inday said. I have been a loyal patron of Minggay’s and I can certainly attest to that—they even use water goblets! They serve every single table with a box of a branded facial napkin, an ice-cold pitcher of water, condiments, high-quality plates and silverwares dipped on a mug full of boiling water to sanitize it.
Quality & Cleanliness is a Priority
“Magpa-limpyo gud ko kada-semana para sigurado nga limpyo ako kuku”, (I let someone clean my fingernails every week to ensure that it’s clean), she exclaimed in jest. Ate Inday also emphasized that she washes the chickens thoroughly everyday herself to guarantee that the chickens are not stenchy. In fact, she also skewer all the chickens all by herself. “It’s not that I don’t trust my staff, I just want to guarantee the cleanliness of our chicken barbecues because it’s crucial”, she added.
Their Chicken Barbecues are Famous Because of Love
Yes, when I asked Ate Inday what are the reasons she think why her lip-smacking barbecues are famous, she immediately responded with conviction, “It’s all about love.”
“I love our chicken barbecue business because it sustained our family. This is a legacy my mother, Minggay has left us. We take pride of our barbecues. Our barbecues are not perfect, sometimes we receive complaints because it’s too salty to some of our customers. But we continuously strive to satiate their gustatory needs and demands. It took a while before we were able to come up with the perfect blend of ingredients to produce a delicious chicken barbecue.”
I was truly inspired by Ate Inday’s passion and dedication to her job. She was very spontaneous with her answers. She also mentioned that her experience molded her into the woman she has become today—industrious and persevering despite all the challenges in her life. And of course, since I had the opportunity to interview her, I dared to ask what are the ingredients of her celebrated chicken barbecue.
“Yes, of course! That’s not a problem.”
“Ate Inday, uhm, are you really giving me the ingredients? I might steal your recipe. haha!” I jokingly told her.
I surmised that she will never share her ingredients but to my astonishment, she immediately grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down all the ingredients and tadaah!
Ate Inday mentioned that she just mixes all the ingredients listed above and marinate the sliced chickens for three (3) hours. The catch? Yes, we know the ingredients and the basic process but she didn’t share the ratio of ingredients, she just niftily said that we just need experiment it. haha! What do you expect? Since 1970, it’s an old secret family recipe that shouldn’t be revealed.
The original location of Minggay’s Barbecue is at the port area of Baybay, however they are now temporarily located at co. 30 de Deciembre and D. Veloso streets as a construction of a new reclamation area is underway by the city government. Press release states that the famed barbecue houses along the bay will have a specialty promenade soon as the project will be completed.
Don’t dare miss their Pansit Guisado or what I call “Pansit Baybay”—a savory noodle stir-fry made with rice noodles made locally in Baybay and a delicious hodgepodge of bite-sized chicken cubes and vegetables. It’s also one of the best Pansit Guisados I have ever tasted!
Note: All words are translated for clarity and brevity.