Sunae Asian Cantina is Christina Sunae’s much anticipated restaurant opening of 2020, bringing the flavors of her Buenos Aires restaurant of the same name to the Palermo neighborhood (since 2015) and newly opened Apunena to Bonifacio Global City (2019). Let’s keep this straight—the restaurant serves Southeast Flavors in Buenos Aires which reopened here in Manila in partnership with the Nikkei group. Christina was born to an American father and Korean mother, but she grew up with her Filipino stepmother in Pampanga where she fell in love with Southeast Asian cuisine. She started her culinary career in the US and moved to Buenos Aires to study before falling in love with her Argentinian husband. Her colorful story reflects in the food and ambiance of her cantina. Here’s what to expect…
First Things First
Sunae Asian Cantina is located on the 2nd level of One Bonifacio High Street Mall beside its sister resto, Nikkei. Sunae Asian Cantina 2nd level, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, Bonifacio Global City Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM Facebook: Sunae Asian Cantina PH Mobile: +63 916 607-4903 Email: email@example.com The tables are arranged as if with social distancing in mind, and the best ones are near the window for a maaliwalas vibe. Reserve this long table in the corner, with bilao ceiling design and rooster wall décor, for your private function. Sunae Asian Cantina Menu: small dishes |entrees | cocktails, spirits | drinks The food is inspired by Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Filipino flavors based on Sunae’s interpretation.
Complimentary camote chips are served while you wait for the food. Loved her Buenos Aires cocktails. The ginger lemon was refreshing while the spicy cocktail was appetizing. And both were not too sweet. A Thai-inspired vegetable roll wrapped with the Wagyu quadril cut for a healthy way to enjoy the meat. Our favorite, freshly baked roti drizzled with condensed milk that you dip in peanut curry sauce and kalabasa. My wife’s favorite, a Venezuelan sweet corn pancake topped with adobo flavors and sriracha and pickles. Big chunk of fried prawn served on a fluffy bar sandwich mixed with papaya salad and sweet chili peanut bits.
You can have the red snapper escabeche style or fried and topped with sweet chili sauce. We loved her curries like this version of spicy Chiang Mai curry served with egg noodles. Her version of Mindanao’s burnt coconut curry with beef ribs and mix of herbs. Second round of cocktails with refreshing lychee for her, and a pisco green cocktail for me as my digestive drink.
A different kind of halo-halo served with home made Thai tea, kamote buko pandan ice cream, melon-flavored shaved ice with lychee, ginger cookie, passion fruit and nata de coco. The ice cream was too sweet but perfect when mixed with the granita and fruity flavors. 🙂 The carioca a la mode was interesting, something chewy to end the meal.
Final Thoughts Overall, I personally love her specialty curries, healthy tasting dishes and the Buenos Aires-inspired cocktails. It’s a bit tough to sell Southeast Asian flavors by way of Buenos Aires to Southeast Asians because there is this danger of compromising the spiciness and depth of flavor while simplicity can be seen as nothing special. We recommend the Roti Canai with Peanut Curry and Adobo Cachapas for the small dishes and Khao Soi for the mains. All the cocktails were quite good, and they will transport you to her cantina in Buenos Aires. Try the halo-halo for dessert. Budget about ₱800/head. Congratulations on opening Sunae Asian Cantina despite the corona virus escalation in Manila. Good luck with the launch of your “Kusinera Filipina” book devoted to Filipino cooking and culture. Sunae Asian Cantina 2nd level, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, Bonifacio Global City Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM Facebook: Sunae Asian Cantina PH Mobile: +63 916 607-4903 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Live an Awesome Life, Founder, Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of the good people of Sunae Asian Cantina. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights. P.S. It’s tough to open new restaurants specially in the face of community quarantine. Let’s support them whenever possible because they need our support during this time of crisis.