- The Gist: Supper-club-turned-restaurant with small and large sharing plates inspired by the Philippines
- The Chef: Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya
- Location: 14D Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8PR
- Food in 5 words: Flamboyant Filipino with neighbourhood charm
- See more: saraplondon.com
How did we get here?
Having started Sarap as a supper club in 2017, chef Ferdinand Montoya is now gearing up to unleash his Filipino dream in Brixton, South London.
The 25-cover Market Row site will be Montoya’s first bricks-and-mortar showcase, with the Sydney-raised chef having secured the sixth-month residency by winning the first annual Brixton Kitchen competition last spring – a competition to find the best and most innovative new restaurant concepts (judged by 12:51 chef James Cochran, restaurateur Jackson Boxer and celebrity baker Claire Ptak).
Created to help introduce Filipino cuisine to a wider audience in London and “carve out an identity for the hugely underrepresented cuisine,” Sarap will offer a collection of sharing plates, both big and small. Montoya’s signature take on the classic Cebu lechon – slow-roasted, stuffed pig roasted over charcoal – takes centre stage.
“After three successful residencies, we are so excited to have finally found a site in Brixton Village to settle in,” said Montoya, who is planning to establish Sarap in Brixton permanently following the residency.
“This will allow us to have a base where we can progress and really spread our wings, serving the food and drink that we know best. Most importantly, it means our customers new and old will be able to find us whenever they want their Filipino food fix!”
Montoya will draw on his experiences working in the likes of Restaurant Story, Soho House and Flat 3 in London, “drawing inspiration from the rich flavours and culinary techniques of the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines.”
What’s different about it?
Sarap is to be the latest of several restaurant openings in London to focus on lesser represented Asian cuisines, with the Sri Lankan-orientated Paradise and Singapulah & Arôme, the Singaporean restaurant and bakery, both launching in Soho before the turn of the year.
Indeed, Filipino has been on the radar a fair bit over the past few years with Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen launch in 2019 adding to the slowly growing list of those flying the flag for the Southeast Asian country’s cuisine in the capital.
And, as mentioned by Freak Scene’s Scott Hallsworth last week, there may be opportunities in 2020 and beyond for “fun, zesty mix-ups of different Asian food cultures,” with recent openings helping to showcase an even wider scope of Asian cultures and cuisines to explore.
At Sarap, the small plates will include the Dynamite Lumpia (spring rolls of whole red chillies stuffed with mixed mushrooms) and market fish kinilaw (cured market fish, calamansi juice and coconut vinegar dressing).
Large plates include the famous lechon and a jackfruit and potato adobo – Montoya’s take on a popular Filipino street food, with shredded jackfruit and potato braised in soy sauce, cane vinegar and garlic.
Other menu highlights include the kale laing (a version of another Filipino staple of vegetables cooked in coconut milk) and their solitary dessert, a cassava tart.
You’ve got to try…
Montoya’s lechon: slow-roasted pork belly rolled and stuffed with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli, coconut vinegar and soy sauce, with liver sauce, spiced coconut vinegar and atchara pickle.
Sparkie also likes…
Market fish escabeche: grilled market fish fillet in a sweet and sour red pepper sauce. Escabeche is a common dish across Latin America and the Mediterranean; it is also seen in parts of Guam and the Philippines, where local fish is paired with traditional Spanish escabeche techniques.
You’re looking to discover, or are already fascinated with, Filipino food.