Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dining in the Next Normal: Sunae Asian Cantina Bounces Back with Vibrant Southeast Asian Flavors at One Bonifacio High Street Mall

The rich, colorful and diverse tapestry of flavors from Southeast Asia converge at Bonifacio Global City, recreated by award-winning chef Cristina Sunae...

Formerly opened just a few weeks before the pandemic, Sunae Asian Cantina was one of the highly anticipated new restaurants in the metro for 2020. But recent global events put a hold on everything with almost the entire country placed under quarantine. As the whole world transitions to the new normal, a few restaurants have slowly resumed partial operations with minimum capacity in a bold move to bounce back. Here's a tasty glimpse of what diners can expect at Sunae Asian Cantina's re-opening after a prolonged quarantine and what dining in the new normal looks like...   

Located at the scenic View Deck of the second level in One Bonifacio High Street Mall in BGC, Sunae Asian Cantina recreates authentic Southeast Asian flavors with a variety of masterfully executed dishes. Each dish transports you to the different regions of Southeast Asia, one sumptuous plate at a time.

The new dining establishment bears the name of Chef Cristina Sunae, a successful Korean-American chef and restaurateur who gained both fame and popularity with her inspired take on Southeast Asian and Filipino flavors at her restaurant in Buenos Aires. Sunae Asian Cantina brings these same regional flavors, via Argentina, to Bonifacio Global City. The traditional cuisine of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia including the Philippines become the centerpieces of a memorable dining experience in this new BGC hotspot. Authenticity, the freshness of ingredients and execution of each dish make Sunae Asian Cantina a must-try, a bright spot in the restaurant scene trying to bounce back from the quarantine. 

That day, the staff at Sunae Asian Cantina were ready to welcome back customers in the new normal garbed in protective face shields. Body temperatures were scanned before entry...

...with tables and marked seats reconfigured following strict social distancing protocols (L). Diners are also required to fill out a form to aid in contact tracing (R). This is how dining in the new normal will be like with different layers of health and safety precautions.

At the open kitchen, the final touches to our starters were executed and served...

We began our dining experience at Sunae Asian Cantina with the refreshing Davao Pomelo Salad (P 250), a complex yet delicately balanced salad with sweet and tart Davao pomelos, toasted coconut, fried shallots, red onion, mint, cilantro, cabbage, lettuce and chili powder dressed with a sharp and citric fish sauce. The contrasting notes of sweet and sour, salty and spicy come together seamlessly to kick off our feast at Sunae Asian Cantina.

The Roti Canai with Peanut Curry (P 220) features soft pan-fried Malaysian bread paired with a thick peanut curry for that savory burst of flavor. There's just nothing subtle or nuanced about Southeast Asian flavors, draping the palate with a bold richness with each bite and a balanced finish.

The Rendang Pao (P 350) with fork-tender beef brisket, aioli peanuts and cilantro chili oil just melts in your mouth releasing intense notes while the Prawn Tempura Pao (P 320) with succulent and crisp tempura draped in sweet chili peanuts and papaya salad brings sweet briny flavors and a whisper of heat from the chili for a flavorful blend .

For the main courses, we started with the Seafood Peanut Curry (P 420) featuring the day's freshest catch of plump prawns and succulent calamari laid on seasonal vegetables in luscious peanut sauce enriched with shrimp paste, banana blossom, chili and achuete. Sweet, salty and spicy flavors come into play mellowed by the fresh and clean notes of the vegetables and briny hints of the seafood. Like many Southeast Asian dishes, the complex flavors punch through yet there is a balance that tempers each distinct note. Sunae Asian Cantina orchestrates all these contrasting flavors with each dish...  

The Philippines is proudly represented by Sunae's Sisig (P 350) with tender pork belly, ear and snout lavished with egg, pickled daikon, red onions, crackling and fresh chili served in a hot skillet. Like the authentic sisig from Pampanga, the dish brings both texture and flavor to the palate with soft and chewy pork and crunchy crackling coming together for a double dose of unctuous porky richness that's made even richer with the addition of the egg. The sharpness of the red onions and heat from the chili brings balance to the dish to temper the richness. 

The Burnt Coconut Curry (P 995) is Sunae Asian Cantina's own take on the traditional southern Filipino dish with savory beef braised in burnt coconut sauce, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, chili, cucumber, red onion and parsley. Cooked low and slow for hours, the beef simply falls apart from the bone delivering melt-in-your-mouth savory goodness with a nutty and mildly sweet and smoky flavor profile from the burnt coconut. The bold beefy flavors are perfectly complemented by the burnt coconut, adding a layer of sweetness to the fork-tender and fall-off-the-bone beef.  

Elegantly plated, this specialty dish reflects the variety of tasty regional offerings at Sunae Asian Cantina. This is one dish that will make you come back to Sunae Asian Cantina again and again. Better ask for a second serving of garlic fried rice with this one. 

Sunae Asian Cantina also makes its Bounce Back grander with its daily All-Day Happy Hour offering three cocktails for only P 500+ and yes, sharing is allowed. 

The scene at the View Deck calls for a specialty cocktail like the Mangarita (P 395), a tequila-based cocktail with triple sec, fresh mangoes, lemon and chili powder. Just like Sunae Asian Cantina's Southeast Asian dishes, this cocktail delivers a range of contrasting notes with a soothingly sweet finish to match the views.

Sunae Asian Cantina will also be offering special meal sets soon like this one with Thai Khao Soi served with Prawn Tempura Pao and Davao Pomelo Salad for both dine-in and take-out. It's just one of many menu additions to Sunae Asian Cantina's offerings as it adapts to the new normal.

The quarantine experience triggered a surge in online ordering and food deliveries, and Sunae Asian Cantina responds to this new normal with its own pick-up and delivery service completed in three easy steps. 

And just like how we started, a Southeast Asian style dessert with frozen granita, ice cream and fresh fruits concludes the rich play on contrasting flavors at Sunae Asian Cantina. 

The menu at Sunae Asian Kitchen features a diverse selection of Southeast Asian and regional favorites, taking your palate on a flavorful culinary journey right at the heart of Bonifacio Global City.

And that view. It's a shame not to end your dining experience with a cocktail and a view at Sunae Asian Cantina. Dine-in, take-out or delivery, add vibrant Southeast Asian flavors to your next meal with Sunae Asian Cantina. And it's now open, bouncing back from the prolonged quarantine with all the health and safety protocols in place.

Sunae Asian Cantina is located at the 2/F View Deck of One Bonifacio High Street Mall, 5th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City or call 7746 9046 and 0916 607 4903 for inquiries. For more on Sunae Asian Cantina, visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/sunaeasiancantinaph/ and their IG Feed at @SunaeAsianCantinaPH.

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