Filipino barbecue and lechon specialist Sarap will open its first stand-alone restaurant on 30 January in Brixton Village. Chef-founder Ferdinand “Budgie” Montoya brings his interpretation of Filipino culture and cuisine to the market after successful restaurant residencies across the city, first at The Duke’s Head in Highgate, then at Coffee Is My Cup of Tea in Dalston, and finally at The Sun and 13 Cantons in Soho, which also acted as a launch pad for Chef’s Table star Asma Khan’s now fully fledged Darjeeling Express, and Mandy Yin’s thriving laksa restaurant on Holloway Road, Sambal Shiok.
Cebu lechon is Montoya’s calling card: pork belly slow-roasted; stuffed with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli, coconut vinegar and soy sauce; and served with a mound of pickled carrot and daikon, coconut vinegar seasoned with bird’s eye chilli, and a Filipino liver sauce. Slow, careful cooking delivers a brittle, glassy skin fit to shatter on eye contact, and pig that Evening Standard Magazine critic Jimi Famurewa described as “a lust-making pyramid of fatty, flame-scorched pig hunks” in a glowing review. Grilled pork skewers, kinilaw — the Filipino iteration of the global tradition of “cooking” fish with citrus, chilli, and herbs — and more snacks will round out the menu, serving 25 covers with some additional outdoor seating.
Montoya, who told Eater last year that he “aims to create an identity for Filipino cuisine in London,” has long resisted the pernicious idea — not confined to Filipino cuisine — that it represents some sort of “trend.” Between his residencies; Rommel Bustarde’s Mama’s Kubo in West Hampstead; Kapihan in Battersea Park; Filipino-inspired BBQ Dreamz; Omar Shah’s mini Kentish Town empire of Mamasons, Ramo Ramen, and Bintang — the latter open for over 30 years; Chef Jojo Manolo, Ading’s Kitchen, and Tapsilogan Tooting Express in Tooting’s markets; Romulo in Kensington; and Lutong Pinoy in Earl’s Court, and more, Montoya is part of a restaurant community that respects, but is not shackled by national traditions. Sarap is emphatically not part of a trend.
The 30 January opening will be preceded by a soft launch from 24 — 26 January, with 50 percent off any bill.
More soon from Montoya on his first stand-alone restaurant for Sarap.