Sarsa has been on my must try list but I never prioritized it since I wasn’t too excited to eat inasal or bbq meat. That’s what I thought summed up Sarsa’s Negrense cuisine. Boy was I wrong big time. So wrong I ate there twice last week.
Sarsa is located at Forum South Global, a new strip mall dedicated to mostly restaurants and a couple of non-food shops. They have inadequate parking at the back of the building so an alternative is to park at the Fort Strip and walk a block to Forum.
It’s imperative to TRY to make a reservation. I made a reservation for our Thursday lunch and was told the restaurant was full due to a booking of a big group and that I should just try my luck for a walk in table. I insisted on a guaranteed table and they gave in. This whole center area pictured below was never occupied and there was no big group that arrived. Either the lady who answered the phone got the wrong date or the group cancelled.
Each table had these bottles of condiments for you to mix your own sauce. I didn’t find the need to use any sauce since everything tasted just right for me.
I have mixed feelings about the Pancit Molo. I found the soup a bit bland and it had a flour-y aftertaste probably from the wonton wrapper. On the other hand the pork filling of the wonton was very tasty. This order of soup was just enough for five of us.
The twice cooked pork belly topped with ginamos or Negrense bagoong will surely make you eat a lot of rice. There’s definitely no shortage of flavor with this dish.
I wasn’t too fond of the green beans cooked in coconut milk. I felt it lacked coconut flavor. The others liked it enough but this was one dish we didn’t finish.
Most of my friends ordered plain rice or garlic rice because they said it won’t clash with the sauces and tasty food. They were wrong!
I was the only one who ordered the Ginamos Fried Rice and let me tell you it was perfect with each and every dish we ordered since most of the dishes had ginamos (bagoong or shrimp paste) anyway. This rice wasn’t too salty or overpowering. It just complemented all the dishes really, really, really well.
I love Kare Kare and was really excited to try Sarsa’s version. The beef and veggies were separated from the sauce and ginamos. I would have given it a higher rating except that the beef was a bit tough.
Their Kare Kare sauce was fantastic though. It wasn’t thick but it had a strong peanut taste and it was very flavorful.
I’ve tried sizzling bulalo before and I wasn’t really excited to try this dish. Look at it. It looks like simple chopped beef with gravy and a piece of bone marrow on top. Once you taste this you will know why this was my favorite dish in Sarsa. I was surprised that instead of ordinary gravy the sauce had a sour component that zinged in my mouth and balanced the richness of the bone marrow and tender beef. It was really spectacular! Yes it was good with ginamos rice too.
The sizzling kansi was placed far from me so I passed this small sauce dish for Deb to load up with my share of meat and marrow. Forget roasted bone marrow and all those chi chi ways of serving bone marrow. This is the ONLY way you should eat it.
We ordered another pork belly dish this time it was just marinated and grilled over charcoal. I really liked the simplicity of this dish and the flavor was clean yet not lacking. I wish I tried the coffee dipping sauce.
I applaud Martin for his patience in listening to his mom’s friends gab and chow non-stop.
The prices were very reasonable too!
Last Sunday I went back for dinner. Trust me it was no sacrifice for me to go back to Sarsa. I wanted to bring my balikbayan friends who I knew would love the food there. Luckily I was able to get a reservation yet I still had to wait a few minutes for our table but I didn’t mind. There were people willing to wait for a table until 9:00 pm when we left.
I ordered the Crispy Dilis (anchovies) which were the tiniest I’ve ever seen. The fried fish was coated with a chili pineapple glaze which wasn’t too sweet or sticky but it was a bit too spicy for my taste. The others loved it though.
They gave us free cornicks for dinner but none for lunch. Or maybe it was a weekend thing?
I didn’t have any Batchoy because I was preparing my tummy for all the food. Everyone loved the rich soup with noodles, egg, bone marrow and bacon-cut liempo. I think this is a better option than Pancit Molo. The serving size was the same.
From the first time I ate at Sarsa I wanted to try the chicken skin. Yeh I know it’s not healthy yada yada. But it’s grilled not fried so that should have some plus points right? Anyway the charred chicken skin was the BOMB!!! It actually tasted like chicken meat and not just skin. I loved the taste and specially the burnt bits of fat. The manager made a dipping sauce of soy sauce and pinakurat vinegar for us and it was sublime. Even my friend Jeanne who doesn’t eat chicken skin (yeah she’s skinny) loved it.
Pork BBQ is normally made using kasim (shoulder) or pigue (butt) but in Sarsa they use liempo or pork belly. I think it’s a great idea since pork belly has a nice layer of fat to keep the pork moist and tender. I liked their marinade which wasn’t too salty or too sweet.
You can order inasal (Bacolod style BBQ) by the part. We ordered the leg/thigh and the wings which came with three pieces. When I first took a bite of the chicken I thought it was bland until I continued chewing and the flavor intensified more and more. I loved how sour it was. If you find it too sour you can dip it in some soy sauce. It was just perfect for me.
My friend May recommended that I order the roasted kalabasa or squash. I imagined chunks of roasted squash that were still a bit firm like the ones I had in Eataly in NYC. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when the dish came out with mushy squash.
I almost didn’t try it but since it was right in front at me I gave it a go. OMG the squash was cooked in coconut milk and it was soooo good! You have to eat it together with the crispy dilis, green beans and fried tofu for a good mix of textures and flavors.
This time I convinced Jeanne and Rachel to try the ginamos fried rice. Ariel and Kit, the balikbayans, went with the white rice. They eventually tried the ginamos fried rice after Jeanne’s prodding and quickly fell in love with it. Even Kit who was an American loved it.
I also ordered the sizzling kansi which was once again everyones favorite. Just like at the previous lunch the bulalo was placed farthest from me. Why? Next time I will keep the space in front of me empty until the sizzling bulalo arrives.
Chef Jayps came out for a meet and greet with the customers and I congratulated him on the wonderful food.
Unfortunately my friends didn’t want dessert anymore. The server must have noticed my crestfallen face because a minute later two desserts arrived c/o Jeremy, the owner, and Chef Jayps. One from each of them. Wasn’t it sweet of them?
Kit and Ariel loved the Leche del Cielo topped with lemongrass citrus syrup. They liked it because it wasn’t as rich as leche flan and not as sweet. Strange but I found it as rich as yema.
My unexpected favorite was the unassuming mini turon pieces filled with banana, langka (jackfruit) and chocolate which I didn’t really taste. When we took a bite Ariel and I looked at each other and said, “Peanut Butter?” We tried the sauce and realized it was made with Choc Nut!! Fantastic!!! I ate most of this.
We ate much more for dinner and even with all the beer the bill came out to just over P3,000 for 5.
I rated the dishes an average of ✔ ✔ ✔ and that’s a hard thing to achieve in my book. Sarsa has a brief one page menu and yet there are a lot of dishes I want to try and I will get to try them all hopefully by the end of the year. What are you waiting for? Go and try Sarsa now!!! And don’t forget to sit near the sizzling kansi ok?
✖ skip it
✔ not bad
✔ ✔ do order with some reservation
✔ ✔ ✔ MUST order
✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ IF YOU DON’T ORDER THIS YOU WILL REGRET IT. (or you’d be a fool not to order this)
Unit 1-7, Forum South Global, 7th Ave corner 25th Street, Fort Bonifacio
Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm