Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, Fort Bonifacio Review: Not Just Inasal

January 21, 2019

Chef JP Anglo is kind of a celebrity chef. He’s a culinary star in Bacolod, and has appeared on the Filipino edition of Masterchef. Although his first Manila venture is only in its infancy, it’s been covered so many times in the past few weeks that I feel as if everyone knows about Sarsa already. The fact that Sarsa’s food lives up to the hype, in spite of the impossible lines snaking around the corner, just means that Chef Anglo is more than a pretty face—he’s a formidable culinary talent.

Sarsa Batchoy Special with Egg, Bone Marrow and Bacon Liempo (PHP 350)

Crispy Dilis with Chili Pineapple Glaze (PHP 90)

Crispy Dilis with Chili Pineapple Glaze (PHP 90)

For anyone unfamiliar with Negrense food, the menu at Sarsa has all the standards like inasal, bulalo, and batchoy. You might think that Anglo is playing it safe by sticking to what he knows best, but the versions he has come up with are pretty darn delicious. The Special Batchoy adds egg yolk, bone marrow, and thick cut pieces of bacon grilled just like liempo. Sarsa’s soup base is so complex. It reminds me of ramen stock, except with a Filipino feel, layered with flavors that make it salty, garlicky, and incredibly satisfying. I’m not ashamed to say that I almost finished a bowl meant for two, leaving the chicharon soggy with broth for last. The Crispy Dilis was a no-frills starter, and the 90 peso price tag is unheard of for the Fort area. Sarsa is well-priced for the space that it’s in, which may mean the flock at the door will never go way.

Nothing knocks your socks off like Anglo’s Inasal.

Although most of the dishes are tasty, nothing knocks your socks off like Anglo’s Inasal. Here, these humble skewers are the stars. Inasal is one of my favorite Filipino dishes, and chicken oil the reason why I look the way I do. I usually always have to dip it in something (toyo-calamansi or suka’t sili depending on my mood) but none of their chicken offerings needed either. Blistered skin, juicy meat, that great atsuete color, it was all a delight to eat. The Isol will make anyone scared of offal a carnivorous convert, with the butt of the chicken becoming their new fatty, guilty pleasure. A few of the Isaw I had were left a little too long on the grill, but those that weren’t had a pleasant chew, and were a great vehicle for the marinade.

Isol (PHP 170), Isaw (PHP 145)

Isol (PHP 170), Isaw (PHP 145)

Service was really slow and the lines were a mess.

The lines were a mess however, and the restaurant was a little hectic. Staff were scurrying around to put tables and chairs together, which the place lacked. Service was really slow, with our inasal coming over an hour later after 4 complaints were already placed. I’m not sure if the staff knew how to deal with the demands of so many customers, and the constant flow of people from the front door. No one expects a soft opening restaurant to have all the kinks sorted out though, so hopefully, in a couple of months this will all change.

The Verdict

Sarsa is sure to become a modern classic.

In spite of its simple menu, Sarsa delivers. Though there’s nothing terribly new or exciting about Anglo’s food, everything’s still pretty damn delicious. The staff still needs to find their feet, but with their affordable prices, and celebrity following, Sarsa is sure to become a modern classic. Maybe we should try Sir Chief’s restaurant next?

sarsa

The opinions in this review are solely from our writer. If you’re curious about how we conduct our reviews, please check out our ethics page.

Sarsa Kitchen+Bar
Unit 1-7
Forum South Global
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
CP: +63 927 7060773.
Monday-Saturday 11am-11pm

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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9 comments in this post SHOW

9 responses to “Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, Fort Bonifacio Review: Not Just Inasal”

  1. Geh says:

    There are only three pictures and no review in sight or is it just me? 😕

  2. Benny Hechanova says:

    I don’t mean to instigate any form of word war or anything, but I just can’t help but ask – what differentiates “Negrense” food from the ambiguous “Ilonggo” cuisine? I have family/friends from both Iloilo and Bacolod, and I have personally met my fair share of die-hard patriotic Negrenses who get pissed off when you collectively put Neg. Occidental culture under “Ilonggo”. And vice versa with people from Iloilo. If so, is batchoy an ‘ilonggo’ or ‘negrense’ dish? Before, I got someone looked at me infuriatingly after I mistakenly mentioned that inasal is of ilonggo origin instead of negrense/bacolodnon…….

    • Batchoy is definitely Ilonggo, because it stems from La Paz, hence the moniker La Paz Batchoy. Iloilo had established trading ties with noodle-happy China even before the Spanish came and colonized Panay Island, and that culinary influence led some random mestizo (of Chinese-Spanish-Indio descent) to cook up the first batch of La Paz Batchoy. Even the name sounds remotely Chinese, too. Pancit Molo is another close cousin of the batchoy. Not a lot of non-Ilonggos know it and it is extremely underrated.

      Negros’s Chinese community settled in way later, so Negros doesn’t have a solid claim on batchoy being “Negrense”.

    • Pamela Cortez says:

      Someone told me that ilonggo means hiligaynon which is the general language, and negrense is what you call people or cuisine blahblah specifically from Negros. I’m confused. Hahaha 🙂

      • Lars Roxas says:

        Ilonggo and hiligaynon are not the same. they have some similarities but are distinct from each other.

      • Yeah they say it is incorrect to say Ilonggo, because Ilonggo refers to the people of Iloilo. But Hiligaynon the dialect is usually referred to as the dialect spoken widely in Iloilo and Capiz, whereas a different kind of “Ilonggo” is spoken in Bacolod. I am from Bacolod and I have friends from Iloilo. Though we share the same language pretty much, they have words that we don’t have and vice versa.

  3. Justin Calingasan says:

    Ate at the bar since the line was long, you can feel the stress off of the staff since the counter is there. But the funniest moment was when the bartender asked us out of the blue: “Ano nagustuhan nyo naman yung pagkain?” Me: “oo”. Doesn’t get more honest than that.

  4. paul chua says:

    Hi! Do you have any photos of the inasal chicken? Just wanna see if it looks good. 🙂 Thanks!

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