When I first heard about Sutra Bar and Restaurant in Bonifacio High Street, Indian food was the first thing the sprang into my mind. But expect to be pleasantly surprised when you get served with ‘Pan-Asian’ dishes that seem to mix all your favorite things from Asian cuisine.
When you walk through the doors, you’re greeted by a large bar with an impressive selection of wines and spirits, but since this Open Rice Eat’s A Date was of the non-alcoholic variety, I unfortunately didn’t get to sample any – and Kevin Prasad, who along with his family own Sutra, says that they’re pretty proud of their custom cocktails. Too bad. Lol.
Anyway, it gets a bit homier as you go inward, with brick walls with the murals – probably intentional on their part with the front of the place serving as the “bar” area while the back would be for people who want to sit down and enjoy a good meal in a relatively quieter setting.
Kevin explains that the whole driving force to put up their first restaurant was simply because of his family’s passion for food. His father liked to eat out at good restaurants, and even at home they ate in courses (albeit much simpler, of course). They put up their first establishment, Duo, in Serendra, and its success encouraged them to come with more original restaurant concepts, which eventually included and resulted in, Sutra.
Kevin’s also quick to credit his staff, and of course, the head chef, Chef Ding*, as the major factors that have made an contributed to the success of Sutra and the rest of their restaurants. It’s the harmony and teamwork between everyone that ultimately lies behind every great plate of food that they serve their guests.
And speaking of great plates of food, I was pretty impressed with what Sutra had to offer – we started off with the Firecracker (Php310) – a kind of sushi that had spicy tuna, unagi, scallions and tobiko (flying fish roe). Instant favorite, this one – just the right amount of rice together that didn’t overpower (putting in the right amount of rice is much harder than you think) all the other ingredients.
Next were two kinds of dumplings. First was Water (Php170), which was basically the classic Hakao, filled with bamboo shoots and generous amounts of perfectly-cooked shrimp. The other was Earth (Php185), green-colored dumplings filled with spinach and shiitake. I preferred Water over Earth, as I found the latter to be a bit underwhelming – which was probably because I ate the Water first, and Earth, given its ingredient, was of a milder sort.
We then had the Sutra Salad – which, besides the greens, had prawns, jicama, pomelo, green mango, apple, cilantro-plum sauce. It’s sort of like Asian salad, but something more flavorful and milder at the same time, if that makes any sense at all.
The Seafood Broth (Php695) and the Lamb Shepherd’s Pie (Php795) came next. While the shepherd’s pie wasn’t bad at all, I really wasn’t a fan of the sweet potato – but I do prefer this deconstructed version over the more traditional version of this dish, with the distracting and usually dry and bland pie crust and all. It’s actually a bit ironic that the shepherd’s pie pales in comparison with the Seafood Broth – mixed seafood in a ginger and lemongrass broth – since the latter is so mild. It reminds me of a Tom Yum, but with less of the sourness and the spiciness but the flavor kept intact. It’s very refreshing and hearty – I think it’s one of the best comfort foods I’ve ever had.
The Meat Lover’s Platter (Php995) – oven-cooked beef rib fingers, crispy pork belly and marinated chicken – capped off the main course offerings. And what cap-off that was. Tender, tender beef, crisp, juicy pork belly and chicken bursting with flavor, really, words do not do it justice. One of the highlights of that experience, I tell you.
Desserts were pretty funky, especially the Panna Cotta with Balsamic Ice Cream – and yes, I’m talking about sweet ice cream with a kick of balsamic vinegar mixed into it. I really suggest you give this a go at least once when you visit – the best way I can think to describe it would be to say that it’s strangely delicious. The flambeed mango with frozen chocolate cake was pretty good as well and would be something more to your taste if you’re weirded out by the Balsamic Ice Cream.
All in all, Sutra was a wonderful dining experience. And have I mentioned that their service here is impeccable? This is probably the place with the best service I’ve been in so far – and seeing reviews from other food blogs, I think its safe to say that it was an experience that wasn’t just limited to us.
Some might probably take issue with their higher than usual prices, but their servings are bigger than they seem, made with the best local and imported ingredients, plus they’re delicious and unique to boot. Definitely worth visiting, at the very least for special occasions. Cheers to Kevin and OpenRice Philippines – I’m glad I didn’t miss this Eat’s A Date event.
*Rant: I actually have a picture of Chef Ding, but I totally messed it up and took a horrible shot. I absolutely hate myself for it.