Take a Breather at This Chic But Laid-Back Restaurant Built From a 1950s Home
Come for the cozy ambience, stay for the tacos with Mongolian pork belly!
(SPOT.ph) Culture evolves, and as a result, food also evolves. We're at a point where chefs are more than happy to embrace the merging of different cultural influences in their cooking—and with drool-worthy results. One such restaurant that celebrates this amalgation of global cuisines is KAYU: Kitchen + Bar, a casual-dining establishment in Cebu that serves Asian-Western dishes in a stylish but laid-back setting.
KAYU: Kitchen + Bar is situated in a former house—specifically, a renovated 1950s-era home—within 32 Sanson by Rockwell in Lahug. There are touches of elegance in its plush chairs, rich wooden tables and fixtures, and fancy pendant lights—but they're also balanced out with elements that evoke chill: lots of greenery, and plenty of natural sunlight peeking in. They've also got an outdoor patio if you prefer to go al-fresco!
The current menu is as short and sweet as it is eclectic, with Western classics given Asian touches and vice versa. Their take on a caesar salad—dubbed the Kayu Caesar (P385)—has the prerequisite romaine lettuce, parmesan, and anchovy dressing (they use an anchovy aioli, to be specific), but also includes miso pork belly and a soy-marinated egg, plus sourdough croutons for a welcome crunch. The Kayu Tacos (P385) is unlike any other, with Mongolian pork belly and a fermanted chili sauce bringing an Eastern element to the mix of homemade flour tortillas, pico de gallo, red onions, and cilantro. And the Shrimp Fettucine (P450) isn't just any old shrimp pasta dish—it's also got tempura bites and bonito for extra umami and crunch.
Be sure to leave room for the mains. The Cochinillo Exquisito (P695) has uber-tender eight-hour pork belly, umami chasseur, and chahan egg fried rice, while the Kayu Skillet (P1,895) pairs Prime Angus ribeye and smashed potatoes with a savory-sweet soy caramel. On the more classic end of the spectrum are the Glazed Salmon (P695) with dashi rice, bok choy, and teriyaki, as well as the Yellow Chicken Curry (P425)—a curry of caramelized coconut, roasted garlic, green peas, marble potatoes, enoki, and sweet potatoes with steamed rice.
Executive Chef Izzy Sy shares that he was inspired by his family's love of food and his time spent in Napa Valley, California. "My mother and grandmother's home cooking has a heavy influence on me," he shares. "They cooked all kinds of cuisine, but specialized in Spanish food. It's because of them I had a solid [palate] which only further broadened when I stayed at Napa." Sy studied at the International Culinary Arts Academy Cebu and Culinary Institute of America, which he says gave him the fundamentals he needed to cook with confidence. "I also honed my skills in cooking after I worked at [Japanese restaurant] Morimoto Napa. Chef Kang, [Head Chef of Morimoto Napa], showed me how to create and how to lead. At the end of the day, it's really about you and who you are that describes your food."
Whether you're more for Asian or Western dishes, you can't go wrong with pairing them with a good cocktail on the side. Some good bottled versions you can order in Manila are those by Proudly Promdi and 35cl Cocktail Co.
KAYU Kitchen + Bar is at 32 Sanson Road, Lahug, Cebu City. For more information, check out KAYU Kitchen + Bar's Facebook page.