Here in the Philippines, we think of the sidewalk when we say “street food”. However, those who have been to Singapore know of this kind of food as “hawker food”. It is as flavorful as it is mysterious.
Now, you don’t have to go to Singapore to get a taste of this highly popular cooked food concept. Because just when you thought we already have the world’s cuisine within our midst, here comes SM with another first as it opened its doors to Filipino foodies and non-foodies alike – welcome Makansutra.
Makan is the Bahasa word for “food”, and Sutra means “guide” according to Buddhist scriptures. Makansutra Chief Executive and Makan Guru KF Seetoh put the two words together to fittingly describe what the company aims to achieve: to serve as food and dining guide through recipes that have been inherited from the forefathers of the Asian region.
Makansutra in SM Megamall A is the company’s first fully-owned restaurant in the Philippines, and the first of its kind in the country. It showcases hawker restaurants that are popular in Singapore, offering various recipes with Asian origins such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Gathering a total of 70 to 80 Filipino chefs, the owners of the restaurants themselves came all the way from Singapore to teach the art of cooking authentic heritage street food that customers will find unique and delectable.
“These foods became iconic and famous, became big business in many countries. The Philippines deserves this kind of food variety and I hope they enjoy this because Filipinos love and appreciate good, authentic food,” Seetoh observed. “In Singapore, we have difficulty getting people to learn how to cook as a profession. Here in the Philippines, it only took the Filipino chefs and cooks a week to learn the authentic heritage street food recipes that Makansutra offers.”
Asked why he chose to open first in SM, Seetoh remarked, “Why not SM? You can’t find any other better location, except maybe SM MOA. It took one breakfast with Hans Sy and I was fortunate enough for being given the opportunity to have a space here. No other mall in Singapore compares to the size and the kind of crowd that Megamall has.”
One of Seetoh’s Filipino partners, Chef JJ Yulo, believes that this innovative concept in dining will be warmly accepted by the Filipinos. “Street food in general is not hard to sell. To me, it means fast, casual, delicious, humble, affordable. We want to expand the vocabulary of Pinoys beyond tapsilog,” Yulo said.
Not only is it good for expanding the adventurous tastebuds of Pinoys, but it will also bode well for the food industry. “If we all succeed, then this is good for the industry and the country,” Yulo said. “It’s good to have it in a mall like SM because of its foot traffic, which is good for business. Turnout is great even if it’s a weekday. The best thing about this is that it’s convenient for you to keep coming back, and you will not run out of choices because there is something for everyone with different taste preferences. None of these foods are adopted for the Pinoy tastebud. These are all authentic heritage food from various regions. It’s our entry point to Singapore’s popular foods.”
Two of the restaurant owners, Ah You of Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee and Sam Hussin of Alhambra Padang Satay, are both positive about the reception of Filipinos to these unique Asian heritage cuisine. This being their first time to operate in the Philippines, they were amazed at the first-day turnout of customers considering it was a weekday. They expect that more customers will come in during weekends.
For us Pinoys, eating knows no time. With SM’s latest pioneering offer through Makansutra, dining will be more than just a habit and a necessity – it’s definitely going to be a relishing adventure.