MANILA – Flavor, familiarity, and execution — these are the three factors why the Filipino restaurant Sarsa has been successful.
And the owner of one of the most popular local eateries today, chef JP Anglo, makes sure that everything they serve is aligned with their food philosophy.
“Our cooking style is we borrow different cooking techniques which we use to innovate Filipino food. The dishes may look different, but the taste is still Filipino. Our kitchen philosophy is that 80 percent of the dish should be Filipino. It can’t be 50/50 because you’ll lose the essence of the cuisine,” Anglo said during the launch of the new dishes at Sarsa Rockwell in Makati City.
Another factor that makes Sarsa stand out is the continuous evolution of its menu, keeping everything fresh. According to Anglo, they add at least 10 menu items every six months and remove any slow-moving dishes.
“There’s always something new on our menu, which keeps it interesting. And also it’s a way of pushing yourself, not resting on your laurels, not being complacent, because you must be always constantly evolving. I think that’s how it should be, especially with cooking. Like for me, there’s always something new to eat and to learn,” he said.
Here’s a look at Sarsa’s newest dishes. First up are three more variants to its isaw (grilled intestine) line – spicy chicken, pork, and beef.
Here’s another new skewered dish from Sarsa. Grilled medium rare, the chicken liver comes with a savory chocolate sauce glaze.
Anglo also updated Sarsa’s chicken inasal offerings, giving diners a choice between spicy and with gata or coconut milk.
The sinigang fried chicken with bell pepper and gata sauce made a comeback, joining new dishes like the crispy fish fillet with peanut sauce, and sizzling monggo with lechon kawali.
But probably its two standout new dishes are the kansi rice noodles and coconut grilled liempo. According to Anglo, he got the inspiration of these two dishes from this year’s World Street Food Congress held last June in Pasay City.
“The kansi rice noodles were created because of the World Street Food Congress. We were supposed to serve that dish but it wasn’t approved, so okay, we just kept it for Sarsa. On the other hand, the coconut grilled liempo was also inspired by a World Street Food Congress dish. There was this lady from Mindanao who made a chicken pianggang, which uses burnt coconut. We borrowed that cooking technique and used it on pork,” he explained.
Kansi is Bacolod’s version of bulalo but instead of just pure and hearty beef broth, its soup uses a souring agent, usually batuan fruit.
Sarsa’s new take on kansi comes with broad and flat rice noodles as well as crispy beef flakes, beef chunks, fresh onion slices, scallions, and browned garlic bits. The result is similar to pancit.
On the other hand, chicken pianggang is a traditional Tausug dish that uses blackened or burnt coconut meat and spices to marinate the protein, which is then grilled over hot coals.
Sarsa’s version uses liempo topped with burnt coconut and served it with two side sauces, spicy vinegar and coconut gravy.
“What works for the brand is flavor and familiarity — it’s comfort food. But at the same time, the execution is good. I may have all the ideas but I am blessed that I have chefs from Bacolod with me. Some of them have been with me from the very beginning. That’s what makes our concept work,” Anglo said.
Sarsa has branches in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, Rockwell and Legazpi Village in Makati, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, and UP Town Center in Quezon City.