Hey Handsome: Southeast Asian flavors, with a Filipino twist
Starting a food business is a challenging feat, and one way to flourish is to introduce flavors that’s new to the market. It’s a risky, yet, if done well, a very rewarding move.
Hey Handsome, a Southeast Asian joint that will open in Bonifacio Global City, is a passion project, according to Nicco Santos.
Santos is also the person behind the neighborhood Asian bistro Your Local in Makati, which he ventured into, after a trip from New York, and was “itching to open a restaurant.” CNN Philippines reported.
It was a one and a half year later that the concept for Hey Handsome — inspired by the friendly greeting aunties and uncles would tell to customers waiting in queue for food in Singapore — emerged in his mind.
“I was looking at my team and I was wondering, ‘What’s next for us?’” he told CNN. “So for me, the only way to go from there was to experiment. I wanted to be challenged — I didn’t want it to be another neighborhood restaurant — so I thought, I’ll try the Fort. It’s a scarier market, I think, but we all want to grow as professionals, as artists, so we thought we’d start here.”
He said that part of that growth of the business means infusing more Asian flavors: “really, really Peranakan, really Thai, really Malaysian.” To be able to accomplish this goal, he made an effort to utilize raw materials that hadn’t been used in the Philippines, including keluak, a big poisonous fruit that can be found in the mangrove swamps of Indonesia made edible through fermentation. Santos compares its flavors to a mix of truffle mushrooms and chocolate. “The freshest,” ingredients, he contends, are shipped, but some are also supplied to him by obscure local suppliers that he really looked for, situated in the likes of Bicol, Baguio, Pampanga, Tagaytay and Pangasinan, the report said.
“I grew up going to Singapore and Malaysia, so I love bold flavors,” he shared. “I kind of wanted to introduce them [to the Philippines] slowly, gradually. I don’t want to shock the Filipino palate right away. So I’m going to feed them something that they can digest.”