Local Filipino-American chef Tress Balch has just opened Sarap Filipino Kitchen, a 150-seat restaurant and event space in the Miramar area. Until recently, Balch ran Mira Mesa eatery and catering outfit Happy Sushi but has long been searching for a spot to serve traditional Filipino food, what he calls “grandma recipes”, in a large group-friendly venue that will soon offer live entertainment, from bands to comedians and karaoke.
His partners include Scott Chiv, who previously ran a South African restaurant and a diner in the Miramar location, as well as Blessie Trott, with consulting help from chef Marlaw Seraspi; formerly executive chef at Open House in Encinitas, Seraspi ran a popular Filipino-influenced Sunday brunch that he may resurrect in Miramar and Balch and Seraspi were among the cadre of local chefs behind the legendary Ulam dinner this past spring.
Sarap Filipino Kitchen’s initial menu includes classic pancit noodles, hand-rolled lumpia that will be available in party trays, crispy lechon kawaii, and afritada, a tomato-based chicken stew. The full menu, rolling out soon, will include more of the comforting dishes that are Balch’s speciality, ranging from bicol express, made with pork and creamy coconut milk, to kare kare, and Filipino sweets including halo-halo and leche flan. The restaurant will also offer late night eats on weekends as well as occasional kamayan feasts, multi-dish communal dinners that are eaten with your hands. The restaurant also offers draft beer and wine.