Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, Fort Bonifacio Review: Not Just InasalJanuary 21, 2019
- Pamela CortezWords
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.
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.
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.
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?