I will admit I am hungry while I write this post. I am scanning my kitchen for something that will satisfy my grumbling tummy. Of course I scan Facebook too for ideas, and as if fate or serendipity would have it, I see this and my mouth begins to water:
Okay hang on… it’s not what you’re thinking. I do not want to eat HIM. That is my friend Nik Barancik, the husband of my very good (and golden) friend Cris. They are the owners and creators of one of my favorite go-to-restaurants-to-satisfy-my-cravings in Manila, O’Sonho Portuguese Fusion RestoBar. Apparently Nik was on ANC TV last night talking about his first baby O’Sonho (pronounced “O-son-yo”), and someone caught him and took a snapshot of the TV screen to post on Facebook at about the same time I decided to browse for food suggestions. In a way, yes… I do associate Nik with yummy food, the one he and his wife serve at their restobar.
Cris and I go way, way, WAYYYYY… back. I think we’ve known each other for about 25 years now. I still remember the afternoons we’d spend writing all these crazy “books” about going into the future and attempting to cook Brownie Lasagna at her house (only people who belong in our past will understand what those two stories are about!). Even then she did already have big dreams and grand plans. She’s always loved good food too and as far as I can remember has been quite passionate about it from the get-go (the food we’d eat in her house was always yummy!).
We fast forward to the present where we are still very close friends and now even co-parents. Cris married Nik a few years back and together they put up the first branch of O’Sonho on Jupiter street in Makati. I remember when it first opened she invited us to come and try it out. She placed a set of their signature dishes, such as the Peri-Peri Chicken (a MUST try when you go!), the Caldo Verde (it’s a green soup) and their now famous Coffee Marinated Roasted Pork in front of our group and I tell you, after trying a few bites of each I didn’t want to stop eating. In fact I didn’t want to share. I’d never tried Portuguese food before, and my goodness it was really really good! It’s also one-of-a-kind because O’Sonho combines the distinct taste of Portuguese food with those of other countries such as Spain, Australia and of course, the Philippines. Every mouthful bursts with flavor. It’s hard not to want to go back again and again. The true test in our family is my husband: He’s a very picky eater (more than my girls), and yet after one visit to O’Sonho he’s still eager to go back for more. We always order these three items when we go too!
Lately we’ve been fortunate enough to have eaten there more often than the usual and try more of their dishes. O’Sonho catered for the baptismal party of one of my godsons and served some of their paellas. I also attended a SoMoms #sessions talk with Coach Pia that was held at O’Sonho where lunch included some Salmon Puttanesca (a new favorite!) as well as the Stuffed Fish Fillet. And again, as much as I loved the talk, I also did not want to stop eating! I had to control myself.
The food is yummy and it’s affordable too. Plus, the service and the ambiance is great. Coming from a country that is an expert in customer service, I am now very much more attuned to this quality when eating out. It is very clean (Cris is very OC about it so I know the place is impeccable), well-maintained, and the staff are friendly and very attentive. They get you whatever you want or need, and make sure that the quality of the food is always at its best. The Coffee Marinated Roasted Pork for instance; it falls off the bone. Nik and Cris are also always at the restaurant making sure everything runs smoothly, so you know that every needed attention to detail is there. It is a dream come true to have a restaurant that has all of these qualities.
Knowing Cris (and recently I’ve been getting to know Nik too!), they make sure that the restobar lives up to its name. O’sonho means “the dream” in Portuguese. They called it as such for several reasons. The first is that it reflects the dream of having the ultimate dining experience (which is what I mentioned above). Nik and Cris also say it’s been a long time dream of theirs to bring Portuguese food to Manila and sharing the experience with Manila’s diners. It was a risky move at first because of the uniqueness of the Portuguese flavor to the Filipino palette; but five years later today, it’s obvious that this risk has paid off. O’Sonho is now one of the more popular dining choices in the Makati area and it is going strong. Nik and Cris still continue to innovate and add new dishes as the years go along, so there is really always a reason to go back for more.
I love my friends, they are wonderful people. It’s always fun and a ball of laughs when we’re together and I’m so glad that they form part of my little child-raising “village” now that we’re back home. And thanks to them, I know my kids will grow up with a richer palette.
Okay now I’m hungrier than ever.
O’Sonho is located at 20 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Makati. (896-3289, 5191148). They’re open daily from 11AM – 11PM (closed in between lunch and dinner). For more information, visit their website.