Salcedo Village in Makati has created a fair amount of buzz in the metro, teeming with third-wave coffee shops, Japanese ramen houses and speakeasy bars. Joining the throng of the west side is a line of new restaurants in Valero Street along Access Road 4. The Mothership F&B Group banks on the success of its predecessors (Crisp on 28th, Pink Panda, Red Light, Hatch 22, and Red Light) and now ventures into new concepts that’s succinct and straightforward.
Sabao is a Filipino soup bar that is in between Sprout, a fresh convenience store, and Bait’s by Chef Joseph Margate, a market-driven restaurant. Sabao has taken your homegrown Filipino favorites to the next level with their nontraditional discipline in cooking the soups and lets you design your own sabaw. Sabao’s build-it-yourself style service and creative take to native materials and earthy interiors played around with tradition but breathe a new life to the soups we grew up with.
They claim to be a new wave of soup makers, concentrating on well-loved local textures and flavors like Sinigang, Tinola, Bulalo, Molo, Batchoy, and Binakol – without artificial flavorings from powder or quick fixes that you can just buy from the groceries. The flavors are made rich and familiar by simmering the all-natural broth for 16 hours and cooking it separately from all the other ingredients, thus preventing other ingredients from being soggy and maintaining its texture and flavor. The classic soups are re-envisioned without losing respect for the flavors that have made them Filipino staple and favourites to many.
“This is how we would like to present Filipino food to the world,” says Erwan Heusaff of the Mothership group. “Vietnam has pho. Japan has ramen. And Singapore has laksa. Filipinos have sabaw, with flavours of equal potential. It’s time we put our traditional Filipino soups front and center.”
How do you #GetSabao? As soon as you enter the restaurant, you are given a menu that’s arguably lifted from ramen houses where you build on a base soup, which can be either Bulalo, Sinigang, Tinola, Molo, Batchoy or Binakol. The order slip is a checklist-style that you get to customize your own soup with add-ons that includes sides and starches. It varies from Sotanghon, Canton, Misua to Brown Rice, Red Rice and Garlic White Rice.
Sabao playfully takes advantage of everyone’s subjective love for soup and and gives you control of what you want in your sabaw. Loading up your own bowl with extra toppings (Toppings Dito, Toppings Dito) like Toge, Kangkong, Patatas, Atsara, Tinoyong Itlog, Salmon, Crispy Balat ng Manok, and many more can be added to make your own soup more personalized. If you’re not in the mood for soup, they also serve Noodle or Rice Bowls with classic Filipino ulam, Silog Series for an all-day breakfast, Baos and Platitos for merienda, Minatamis like Ice Candy, Halo-Halo, Goat’s Milk Leche Flan and Skrambol for another touch of nostalgia.
Sabao is fast becoming an after-work hangout with their “Pulutan Series” that includes Dynamite Wasabi Prawn Sticks, Kang Kong Nachos, Sizzling Marrow & Beef with pandesal toasties and Loaded Sweet Potato & Fries with salted eggsauce. Their “Kanto Cocktails” also marries the international taste with local ingredients; Their Moreno is a mix of Milo with coffee and Rum and is a play on nation’s favorite childhood drink and 3-in-1 mix, Pinoy Mojito that has a refreshing local twist, Maria Clara which is a lovechild of mojito and lychee martini, Sampaguita with a pronounced floral ending profile. They also offer local beers and Brew Kettle All You Can Daily for P250 in celebration of #OktuBrewFest.
Sabao is a casual, higher end Filipino soup bar that, while knowing you still take comfort in your Nanay’s or Lola’s cooking more than the others’, isn’t trying to compete because the soups served here aren’t exactly the soups you grew up with. They’re simply showing you how else it can be done with the influence of international cooking techniques. The integrity of the flavors are kept alive by using the same ingredients; likewise, they are made new and current with the treatment of each component, emphasizing different textures and accenting flavors and pairings, making each soup our very own. The secret is not in the competition, as Filipino restaurants need to face the challenge of competing against every single household in the country for the best anything; Sinigang, Nilaga, Kare-Kare and the list goes on. But creating your own identity is what matters and that’s exactly what Sabao is doing. As the first dedicated all-Filipino soup bar, Sabao seeks to create a new appreciation for the wide range of flavors of sabaw and bringing traditional soups to new heights.