Very rarely do I feel genuinely touched by the hospitality of hosts, and the charm of their employees especially when it comes to dining experiences. Last Friday though, I was able to experience just that, thanks to the very warm people behind O'Sonho, a Portuguese fusion restaurant.
For this particular visit, I was acquainted with one of the owners of O'Sonho, the Atenean, the wife and mother that goes by the name Cris Barancik. The place was not that easy to find for part-commuters like me as it is located at the far end of Jupiter street, near Makati avenue, but it was surely worth my time even after a long day at the office.
Cris starts by introducing us to the concept behind their bread and butter. A cute, little story involving one's love of food and things Portuguese eventually led to her mentioning her husband and his desire to open a restaurant that can satisfy his tummy. Indeed, men have very demanding appetites to the point that unless they truly get full to the brim, they won't stop looking for other things to end their cravings. At the end of the day, we're just like women who also find this urge to munch on food that appeal to us till we're left smiling.
Labor of Love
When a person gives his 100% to pursuing his passion, he's almost assured of a home run. Cris and her husband Anton always make sure that they and their people give their 100% in making the necessary ingredients for their famous dishes. "At O'Sonho" Cris gleefully inserts, "everything's a labor of love." True enough, most if not all of the ingredients they use in their dishes are made in-house. She says that there's an inexplicable uniqueness to dishes prepared this way, and their customers often detect that.
Personally speaking, I was taken aback by this discovery since I am aware of how difficult and time consuming it is to be making your own ingredients. While other restaurants just purchase or import their materials, here is O'Sonho producing their own. It takes more than just passion to commit to such painstaking chores--there has to be love in there too, and that they have aplenty!
What I found very interesting in O'Sonho's approach to coming up with flavorful dishes is the intensive thought process behind every dish. From the naming to the actual cooking, the owners and their staff are hands-on all the way. In fact, should customers give recommendations on particular areas, they're quick to acknowledge them for future attempts at certain dish evolutions.
Besides, it's always customer satisfaction that they strive for so everything has to appeal to each guest on a personal level. "We've had Portuguese guests before who prefer having the real Peri-peri sauce so of course, we oblige." Cris adds. She explains that while there are adventurous diners who specifically want to go through the real Portuguese experience, involving a marriage between and among spices, there are still the typical conservative diners who prefer keeping things at a minimum. Depending on how they want their food served, they can always tell the staff their preference.
As with any business venture, Cris and Anton's O'Sonho was not an overnight sensation. Despite receiving tempting offers for venue options, they opted to establish their first branch along Jupiter, Makati. "The Philippine market then was yet to be acquainted with Portuguese cuisine. We had to see how things would turn out first," says Cris. Now at two years in the area, their Jupiter branch is still popular among frequent and new customers.
It was after the big success with their first branch that they decided to open a second one, this time touching base with customers near Eastwood. From what I heard, their Eastwood branch is always packed with guests, regardless of the time and day of the week.
This is where I start to get serious. If theirs is a dedication to satisfy, mine is a dedication to be satisfied! We were served some of their popular dishes and it was hard to resist the inviting scent of each one. Let the photos speak for themselves.
Appetizers to Main Dishes
Caldo Verde, considered by many as Portugal's national dish.
Made using finely sliced kale leaves and, in some cases, smoked sausage.
Chorizo Sisig, a dish that uses chorizo made in-house.
Portuguese Chorizo, O'Sonho's personal take on this famous dish.
Peri-peri Chiken Pasta, O'Sonho's version of the popular Peri-peri Chicken.
Only this time, it has pesto and sun-dried tomatoes!
O'Sonho's Salmon, a mildly sweet-tasting dish accompanied by herb rice.
Fish Fillet in Saffron, a dish that makes use of REAL saffron and is by far my favorite O'Sonho dish. For someone who hates fish, I loved this over the others served to us. Mild in taste but hard to quit.
Tres Leches, a tempting, sweet ensemble of three kinds of milk hence the name.
Java Toblerone Mousse, a dessert that will make you want to have your spoon/fork ready at all times.
Hey, it's chocolate!
Sorbet(e) Frito, O'Sonho's popular fried ice cream. It got its name from the way it is prepared: ice cream inside a fried bread-like shell. And there's a glazing of mango purée too!
Beverages (for the night, at least)
Mint Tea, freshly brewed mint leaves in tea press.
Being the person that I am, I preferred this over soda.
Fishbowl for sharing.
Fresh Iced Lemon and Peppermint Tea, freshly brewed tea with sliced American lemons and a hint of peppermint. Healthy and refreshing! Available in Solo and Fishbowl.
Overall, I enjoyed my first visit to O'Sonho. I have always heard of how good their food is but after hearing the story and the amount of labor and time they devote to preparing each dish and its ingredients, I learned to understand it more than just appreciate it. For naming this fusion restaurant or restobar "O'Sonho," Cris and Anton have finally realized the word's true meaning as in Portuguese it means "the dream."
O'Sonho Portuguese Fusion is located at #20 Jupiter Street, Makati City; and at 1880-5, 1880 Bldg., Eastwood Mall, Eastwood City, Libis Quezon City
Reach them through 896-3289 (Jupiter) and/or 470-1768 (Eastwood)
Store hours: usually from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm (Jupiter), call for possible changes in schedule