Despite cooking at New York’s most notable kitchens, Christina Sunae never forgot the Filipino dishes her grandmother served or the flavors from neighboring Asian countries she discovered during her travels. After relocating to Buenos Aires with her Argentine husband, Sunae’s big heart for Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indonesian food even led her to serve it right at her home.
Southeast Asia immediately brings to mind countries where the cuisines are as bright and festive as the people that inhabit them. Upon opening Cocina Sunae in 2011, it wasn’t long before its cook was awarded for the distinctive spice she introduced to the Latin city and the cross-cultural deliciousness she brought to the plate. Establishing her name in Argentina’s food scene even further, she moved her namesake dining from her residence to an actual restaurant space in the Buenos Aires’s buzzy Palermo food hub.
Soon, Sunae will come full culinary circle through a concept that’s much closer to home. Come February 2020, the celebrated cook will open her first Manila location at BGC’s Central Square, slinging the clever Asian-inspired staples from her restaurants and cookbooks, be it a slow-cooked pork shoulder in red curry, an umami-rich pho, or her grandma’s crowd-pleasing Adobo Pao.
As is customary with Sunae’s cooking, no matter how familiar diners are with the flavors of Southeast Asia, it’ll feel like an adventure that tastes right at home.
Nathaniel C. Uy