Iya Cua knows food. She’s half of the husband-and-wife team behind Bun Appetit (@bun_appetit), which serves the country’s best lobster rolls. Their other seafood rolls—crab and shrimp—are also cult favorites, along with their garlic noodles, seafood grilled cheese and more.
Like many other food entrepreneurs, Cua has spent the past year making sure their business survives the pandemic.
“Just trying to do what I can to keep our Bun Appetit alive and running,” she said.
In this Food Slambook, Cua tells Lifestyle about her food secrets.
As an eater… I’m flexible. I’m willing to try new things but I also like what’s familiar. I love home-cooked meals!
My favorite things to eat at home… are soupy dishes: nilagang baka and sinampalukang manok are my favorites.
Do you cook/bake? Yes, I cook and bake.As a cook/baker… I’m a hacker. I cook and bake what I have tried elsewhere first before I make my own version. Mostly, I try to recreate meals my mother used to make when we were younger. She’s now abroad and, though we talk regularly, she can’t be bothered with recipes and measurements.
My specialty is… Sinampalukang manok is not only my favorite to eat, it’s also my favorite to make. Even before the pandemic, I rarely find this in restaurants. I have not found a place that serves it with sampaloc leaves or flowers.
If I can only eat one food every day for the rest of my life, it would be… nilagang baka with saba to make it a bit sweeter with some bone marrow. I say some days, because I know I cannot have bone marrow every day.
One food I will never eat: I don’t want to say never, but I don’t like the texture of liver.
My guilty pleasure is…instant noodles! My husband, Lawrence, always picks up a bag whenever we go to the grocery. He sometimes gets the Korean and Japanese ones with no English [translation of the] ingredients on the packaging so we really don’t know what’s in them.
My favorite midnight snack: I’m an early sleeper so I’m asleep by midnight.
Favorite food delivery app/service: I don’t usually order through apps and order directly from restaurants. I also mostly order from home sellers I find on neighborhood groups like BF HomeSarap and Yummy Home Kitchen Directory on Facebook.
If you walked into my kitchen today, you would see… a lot of Asian stuff. Got into K-drama the past year and trips to the Korean grocery happen weekly.
Kitchen gadgets/appliances I can’t live without: I recently got into the bone broth thing, so my favorite appliance at the moment is the Instant Pot.
What’s always in my refrigerator: Kimchi and Japanese mayo.
What’s always in my pantry: Soy sauce, sake, mirin and Korean patis
Bread: Fuwa Fuwa loaf bread, 28 Derby burger buns, and we also keep some New England top split ones that we use at Bun Appetit
Cheese: Quickmelt and Emborg Mozzarella
Butter: Queensland Unsalted Butter
Milk: Arla Full Cream Milk; Coco Mama Fresh Gata
Coffee: I’m not a coffee drinker, but the people at home take San Mig’s instant coffee.
Rice: Organic Harvest Brown Rice
Pasta: Buckwheat soba; Divella Orecchiette
Catsup: Heinz Tomato Catsup
Mayo: Hellman’s Fruits: Avocados and lemons
Veggies: Garlic, red onions and perilla leaves
Herbs and spices: S&B togarashi, McCormick cayenne pepper
Bacon/hotdog/sausage/ham: Purefoods Honeycured
Cooking oil: Marca Leon vegetable oil
Soy sauce: Kikkoman and Silver Swan
Vinegar: Unbranded vinegar that my father sends, Molinera balsamic vinegar
Canned products: Korean luncheon meat, Molinera crushed tomatoes
Frozen food: Frozen beef short plate, Farmery beef bones, San Andres Market tapa
Snacks: Milky Way’s dikiam na santol, burong hipon and mustard leaves
Chocolates/candy: Daim, Mr. Goodbar, Cadbury Fruit & Nut