Where does one go when rain changes one’s plans for a game night? We had that problem several nights ago, when an early evening rainshower foiled our plans for a stroll into Poblacion and left us and two other good friends stuck in Rockwell. Fortunately for us we had espied some places where we could sit for a quiet evening of conversation and the occasional tabletop game, and we decided that Sarsa Kitchen + Bar would fit the bill.
Until our dinner out, most of our experience with Negrense cooking was limited to inasal thanks to the preponderance of restaurants specializing in inasal chicken in the metropolis. We were then happy to find that the menu at Sarsa offered this favorite, as well as an array of other Negrense inspired dishes such as squid pinangat, or Negrense sizzling beef rendang.
What caught our group’s attention was the sisig selection, which we could not resist trying out as a homage to our college lunchtimes centered around this very greasy, spicy meal. Our friends tried out the inasal sisig and the brainy pork sisig (with sriracha sauce), while I went for the tuna sisig cooked with lambanog onions and achuete aioli. Lee finally got a chance to indulge his seafood craving, and asked for grilled prawn skewers with talangka sauce and coconut milk.
The best surprise about the tuna sisig was the achuete aioli, which lent a flavorful but not overly spicy touch to the fish. Never again will I look at achuete oil the same way again.
The prawn skewers were a welcome treat since Lee is a sucker for these types of seafood. While his personal preference is to have the prawn meat to have a sweet to salty taste within it, he realize that the prawns’ soft, juicy, and natural flavors complemented the crab fat sauce underneath. Along with an order of rice and it’s definitely a meal one should try and experience at least once during their stay here.
We also had the opportunity to order dessert (in between board games), and we agreed to try the banana tsokolate turon. The tsokolate sauce was good in the sense that it was not overly sweet, but it fell a little short of the tablea flavor we look for in most chocolate dishes.
With all this good food, great service, a relaxed ambiance and excellent company, we did not quite notice time flying by. Definitely this quality makes Sarsa stand out not only as a place for dinner out, but also quite possibly as a place for brunch, or family affairs. Definitely we can recommend this restaurant for anyone wanting good Negrense food, or just Filipino food cooked with a flair.
The Food Score: 4.5/5: One thing about the dishes here is that the blend of flavors is perfect; not one flavor overpowers the other. It’s a balancing act that is difficult to maintain on a plate. However a lot of the foods are on the greasy side, which may not bode well for other people.
Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: This place is airy, clean, and definitely relaxed for leisurely dining The staff are very polite and accommodating, and service is reasonably fast here.
GERD Score: 4/5. The food portions here are the right amount either to share around or have for yourself. Best part for me is that my little problem did not trigger as badly as I expected it to, if at all.
Epilepsy Score: 4/5: The general problem with Filipino food is that it is heavy on gluten and spices, which may really not agree with some diners. Though this place is advertised as a bar, the selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages is broad enough to cater to all tastes and most medical restrictions.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5. This restaurant has become a go-to spot for family lunches and dinners, as well as work meetings, or casual nights out with friends. With the food and the ambiance here, we definitely understand why.