Sunil Vijayan, a 32-year old Keralite from India, single handedly cooks for an Asian restaurant located in Salmiya. Chef Sunil, who specializes in Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes, finds Philippine cuisine easy to cook with its assortment of ingredients and rich flavors.
Chef Sunil had worked in Mumbai as chef in different restaurants for several years before he came to Kuwait. He was initially employed by Kharafi Catering Services in 2007, then his cousin, who used to be a partner at a Filipino restaurant, recommended him to work for the same place as assistant to the chef. It was through this experience that Chef Sunil learnt the intricacies of Filipino cuisine such as the right ingredients to use, understanding of flavors and recreating the tastes of varied Filipino dishes from different provinces. “Filipino dishes are not that difficult to cook and most of the ingredients are available in the country. Unless there are unavailable products that we are unable to serve to our customers, then we offer them alternatives,” commented Chef Sunil.
Kare-Kare (Ox Tail cooked in peanut butter) with sautéed shrimp paste, Bulalo (Beef Stew), Humba (Beef or chicken cooked in sweet soya), Pinakbet (assorted Filipino vegetables sautéed in shrimp paste) and Sisig (Diced beef with spices served in hot plate) are among the list of authentic Filipino dishes Chef Sunil boasts his Filipino diners often order in the restaurant. Currently, the Chef is in partnership with another Indian national and operates Salt and Pepper (Former Bahay Kubo 1), an Asian restaurant with Filipino dishes as its main cuisine, located adjacent to the Old Souq. Chef Sunil said, “Most of our diners are Filipinos, but we also serve authentic Indian and Chinese dishes. Buffet at very low price is available every Friday from lunch till dinner and this is a very popular event in our place during Fridays”.
Diners are a bit apprehensive when they find out that the chef is an Indian preparing the Filipino dishes, but one bite of his food, and they express their appreciation for his skill. “I am a Filipino, but even I find it hard to cook our authentic dishes. It is encouraging to me somehow to know that another national can appreciate and learn our traditional ways and recreate our dishes that taste so good. He has an exceptional talent to be able to cook well and adapt the authentic taste of Filipino cuisine to the food, and understand the difference in how our dishes are simple to prepare as compared to Indian cuisine, which require long process of preparations.” commented Wilma, a Filipina diner at Salt and Pepper.
Salt and Pepper is located parallel to the Old Souq and adjacent to Salam Mall.