Tucked in an unassuming alley a few steps from the bustle of Hardware Lane you'll find Serai, a 50-seater loft serving up Filipino food over fire. When ex-Rice Paper Sister chef Ross Magnaye returned from a stint in Bulgaria, he knew his next venture would be a place of his own. Alongside co-owner Shane Stafford (also of Rice Paper Sister), he set out to create a menu that plays true to his Filipino heritage – with Malaysian, Spanish and Chinese flavours peeping through each dish.
Whilst traditional flavours and Filipino condiments are a menu mainstay, you can expect some twists as he incorporates influences from his time living abroad in Eastern Europe. Think: Ross’ take on kinilaw, a kind of Filipino ceviche, with burnt cucumber resting on some serious crunch of pork crackling, or the wood-roasted Milawa duck brightened up with calamansi (a lime-like citrus native to the Philippines) that you can scoop up with charred bread hot off the fire.
The space itself is a bare warehouse-style loft that doesn’t distract from the star of the show: the impressive fire pit responsible for the charred, smoky flavours that pop up on every plate. The bar’s on show too – with a mostly local drop of natural wines and a bartender spinning Filipino-inspired cocktails. It’s moody but casual, and has the kind of energetic atmosphere that suits anything from a date night spot to a night out with friends.
Serai is taking bookings from Thursday 12 May.