Food and Leisure

Keeping it Sunny

#NOFILTER - Chonx Tibajia - The Philippine Star
Keeping it Sunny
Pastry chef consultant Bernie Tan, Sunny Side Café Group owners Nowie Potenciano and Odette Potenciano, and executive chef Natalia Moran at The Sunny Side Group’s reopening celebration

There’s been a lot of frustration involved in the closure of one of our country’s major tourist destinations, Boracay, but as its Oct. 26 soft opening nears, there’s a lot to be happy about, too. I, for instance, scroll through my camera roll every now and then and just dream of my favorite dishes at Sunny Side Café, one of the island’s most popular breakfast and all-day dining spots. I wasn’t alone in my excitement when I learned that they are ready to reopen when the island does — my stomach was thrilled, as were my friends.

The Sunny Side Chocolates by Risa and Dark Chocolate Ensaymada by pastry chef consultant Bernie Tan

Highly recommended by locals and tourists alike, Sunny Side Café has become a destination in itself — you can’t miss its bold yellow signage and accents along White Beach in Station 3. The entire Sunny Side Group, which includes Spicebird, Supermagic Burgers, Popo and Coco Mama in Station X, will reopen on Oct. 26 with exciting new dishes. Recently, its owners, husband and wife Nowie and Odette Potenciano, threw a reopening party to share the good news. The menu, prepared by head chef Natalia Moran, included favorites and new additions from The Sunny Side Café, Spicebird, Supermagic, Popo and Coco Mama.

Spicebird’s Merguez, Chicken Skin and, what I think will be Boracay’s new pasalubong favorite, Sexy Sauce No. 5

We had desserts as appetizers — The Sunny Side Chocolates by Risa and Dark Chocolate Ensaymada by Bernie Tan, who developed Little Wave Boracay’s now famous Slutty Brownies. This was followed by a platter of Spicebird’s Merguez, Chicken Skin and, what I think will Boracay’s new pasalubong favorite, Sexy Sauce No. 5, which is mysteriously labeled: “Do Markut lime leaves on my chicken thighs turn me on? Of course they do.” What’s in the sexy sauce is a big secret, but I can tell you it’s savory with a mild kick, and intense Asian flavors. And it goes with everything. You’ll have to get it at Spicebird in Boracay; it will not be available in Manila, and somehow that just makes me want it more.

Spicebird’s Piri Piri Crab

A series of tasty seafood dishes followed. According to Nowie, the group discovered a new supplier that will allow them to develop more seafood dishes on their menu, including The Sunny Side Café’s Arroz de Marisco, Spicebird’s Piri Piri Crab, Popo’s Typhoon Shelter Prawns, and — my all-time favorite — Supermagic’s Shrimp Rolls with Umami Dust. I stealthily had four rolls that night. I could eat them all day.

The Sunny Side Café’s Arroz de Marisco

For dessert, we had more rice, Heirloom Sticky Rice with Mango and Salted Coconut Cream, to be exact. In between dishes, we “cleansed” our palates with chocolates and ensaymada, as one does. It was like we were on the island again. Diet begone!

The Sunny Side Café Boracay is a breakfast and all-day dining favorite, located along White Beach, Station 3.

The Sunny Side Café Group restaurants re-open in Boracay

With the reopening of the restaurants comes exciting collaborations with guest chefs and beverage experts: Black Sheep’s chef Patrick Go, Cocina Peruvia’s chef Him Uy De Baron, and David Ong, owner of The Curator and EDSA BDG, which provides exclusive roasts for Sunny Side Café. Pedro Brewcrafters will be creating an exclusive Sunny Side Brew, with bright notes of calamansi and orange. The new Sunny Side Café Boracay will also be expanding their efforts in environmental protection by using all-paper packaging and metal straws, and by reducing single-use plastics by 75 percent.

Supermagic’s Shrimp Rolls with Umami Dust

During the closure, Sunny Side Group worked hard at keeping 50 of its staff employed by creating pop-up restaurants in Manila, including Hole in the Wall at Century Mall. Nowie and Odette say everyone is excited to come home. We’re excited, too! But the question I always ask Nowie is, are they ever going to open Sunny Side Café branch in Manila?

Popo’s Typhoon Shelter Prawns

“Never,” he says. And that just makes them even more special, doesn’t it? Head on to the sunny side: they’ve got cookies, burgers, seafood, slutty brownies and more.

Chef Him Uy De Baron, chef Patrick Go and David Ong of EDSA Specialty Beverages, The Curator and OTO will be collaborating with the Sunny Side Group in the coming months.

*  *  *

The Sunny Side Café Group will reopen their restaurants in Boracay, Malay, Aklan on Oct. 26. The Sunny Side Café, Spicebird, Supermagic, Popo Teahouse and Coco Mama, are under The Sunny Side Café Group.

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