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Brixton’s Brilliant Filipino Restaurant Sarap Brings Crackling, Melting Lechon to Mayfair

Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya, a chef who has taken his rendition of the Filipino speciality all over the city, will open a “bistro” on Heddon Street next month

A suckling pig, stuffed with adobo rice, on a table surrounded by more Filipino dishes, front: kinilaw; to the right: bistek
Sarap’s special whole suckling pig lechon, a new special dish served at the Mayfair site
Thomas Alexander

Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya of Sarap BAon, the modern Filipino restaurant he opened in Brixton last year, will open a new “bistro” at 10 Heddon Street in Mayfair next month.

The space was most recently home to Fallow, but also gave Chris Leach of Manteca the chance to pilot his “Britalian” pasta and home-cured meats restaurant in 2019, one which later enjoyed great success on Great Marlborough Street before announcing its own move to Shoreditch in September. The Evening Standard first announced the takeover by Montoya, which will come on 23 November.

Sarap, which means “delicious” in Tagalog, is a brand Montoya introduced as a monthly supper club before opening a pop-up in Dalston in 2018, later taking it into central London — at the Sun and 13 Cantons pub on Beak Street in Soho. His trajectory and success has risen since, first through the Brixton opening and this latest opportunity on Heddon Street.

“I’m so excited to be opening Sarap Filipino Bistro at 10 Heddon Street, it’s a fantastic site with a great track record in launching some great restaurants,” Montoya said in statement. “I want to build on our work at Sarap BAon Brixton of championing FIlipino cuisine and showcase our cuisine in a modern and progressive light. This is not about elevation, this is about representation!”

“With Filipino soul and a London heart,” the menu will showcase Montoya’s interpretation of Filipino flavours, the chef hopes. His philosophy? “Authentic flavours delivered proudly inauthentically.”

Montoya started Sarap “as a means to reconnect with his roots,” having worked as the head chef at Foley’s in Fitzrovia, as well as cooking at Michelin-starred Bermondsey restaurant Story and the Soho House group. In 2018, Montoya said he then wanted to “create an identity for Filipino cuisine in London — drawing inspiration from the rich flavours and culinary techniques of the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines” along with his experiences working across a variety of London restaurants.

The arrival on Heddon Street might be the purest expression yet of that aim. While the restaurant will revolve around lechon, the crisp-skinned, meltingly tender pork dish for which Montoya has become so well known, here it will be served whole and alongside truffled adobo pork rice, with which the young pig has been stuffed. That must be ordered 48 hours in advance, and is designed to be shared between four and six, at £48 per person.

But elsewhere, there will be a new selection of dishes, including ensaladang talong: smoked aubergines, tomatoes, salted duck egg; escabeche of grilled monkfish, sweet and sour red pepper sauce, pickled peppers; rellenong crispy pata: twice cooked adobo pork rice stuffed trotter; and tsokolate: a four-layered chocolate cake which aims to “showcase the variety of cacao found in the Philippines.”

Rellenong crispy pata: Twice cooked adobo pork rice stuffed trotter at Sarap Bistro on Heddon Street
Rellenong crispy pata: Twice cooked adobo pork rice stuffed trotter
Thomas Alexander

The idea to mitigate risk for operator and landlord at 10 Heddon Street was put in place after the unexpected failure of Magpie, from the owners of Hackney’s Pidgin and King’s Cross sandwich shop Sons and Daughters in 2019. As such, Sarap Filipino Bistro will be in situ for “up to a year,” initially, a spokesperson told Eater London.

Wherever Montoya and his lechon next end up, Londoners will likely be waiting.