Subo Boracay has just opened in the world-famous island with a festive barrio fiesta dinner.
It is a collaboration between longtime Boracay resident and businessman Boyet Sacdalan and Filipino chef and restaurateur Sunny de Ocampo.
Aiming to draw tourists looking for modern Filipino and Asian cuisine, Subo Boracay has an unconventional menu and service.
De Ocampo, an expert on Southeast Asian and Filipino cuisine, combines the best food from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh, Japan and Korea, with regional Pinoy fare from the country’s 7,107 islands.
Using traditional and regional styles, De Ocampo gives the cuisine creative twists.
The menu is exotic and seasonal, with a lot of seafood and local produce, every dish served fresh daily.
De Ocampo believes that happiness is having abundant food and sharing it. All servings at Subo (the Filipino word for to put something in the mouth, or to eat) are meant for sharing, family-style.
He points out: “Food passed around gives diners a sense of family and enriches the conversation on the various flavors, textures and tastes of the dishes.”
There are special monthly chef’s table dinners called “Edible Harmony”—inspired by the Boracay Island lifestyle.
There’s a long table degustation for 40, featuring an average of eight courses and beverage consultant Archie Aniel’s signature cocktails.
Aside from dinner events, De Ocampo hosts cooking classes on Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisines for tourists and foodies.
Before migrating with the family to Australia, De Ocampo found himself drawn to the kitchen at an early age, inspired by his mother’s words: “Once you share food, you share love, passion, culture and especially happiness.”
He was 15 when he took a four-year apprenticeship at The Hilton. He also enrolled in a technical and further education program while working at The Hilton.
At age 23 he was sous chef, and two years later was promoted to head chef, when he met Chinese-Malaysian master chef Cheong Liew who became his mentor.
In 2005, on a homecoming visit, De Ocampo saw Boracay for the first time.
The weeklong holiday stretched into eight months, after which he would go back to Boracay every year for three months with wife Yuki and children Kaisun and Soleil.
This year he decided to settle down with his family in Boracay.
From T-shirts to furniture
Sacdalan moved to Boracay from Manila in 1990. Before Subo, he asked himself, “What can I offer Boracay that it doesn’t have yet?”
A garments wholesaler with a factory in his parents’ hometown in Bulacan,
Sacdalan was living in a P50-a-night nipa hut in Boracay to keep his T-shirt business afloat until a big break came in 2000—he was offered a space in the island’s small shopping center, D’ Mall.
Consultations with interior designers and research done during furniture export shows such as that of Citem (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions) led Sacdalan to shift to retail goods and open a shop called the Lonely Planet.
Demand not only for Lonely Planet T-shirts and accessories but also for Sacdalan’s furniture collection soared. Customers wanted not just the pillowcase but also the bed itself, not just the lamp but the entire showcase.
By 2006 the shop had evolved into a fashion and retail boutique chain now called Happy Planet.
In 2014 Sacdalan found himself thinking again what he could do that Boracay’s residents and tourists would appreciate. Subo was born.
Inspired by the local travels of De Ocampo and Sacdalan, in their words, “to devour the best of Philippine culture and cuisine,” Subo Boracay takes diners on a historical trip of the Philippines and its traditions, with a modern take. It merges the old and the new in architecture and interior design, with a vibrant menu reminiscent of family recipes.
Ocampo calls Subo a “show restaurant,” with live-action kitchen and chef’s table, and quirky surprises meant to reinvent the idea of dining out.
Expect the unexpected on every visit. As Boracay’s locals say, “Kaon ta! (Let’s eat!)”
Subo Boracay is on Calle Remedios, Station 3, Boracay Island; tel. (+6336) 2882849, 0917-8679121; e-mail [email protected]; or visit suboboracay.com.