Subo does Southeast Asian with a French flair

Chef Neil Guillen applies four-star techniques to Filipino foods

The most expensive item on the menu tops out at $17—a whole grilled fish, head and tail still on, eyeballs popping. Mine was a red snapper whose sweet, slightly grilled flesh was perfect when dipped in its citrus/sesame/soy sauce and paired with a bite of coconut rice. Combined with a plate of sautéed greens in a garlicky fish-sauce broth, it's an unbeatable meal.

I encountered only a few missed opportunities at Subo. Vegetarian summer rolls were served icy cold, and their peanut sauce tasted too much like peanut butter without a strong enough kick of something—soy sauce, vinegar, citrus, or chile—to cut it. And I'd probably pass on most of the desserts, including the fried plantains, which were too starchy to my liking, though I did enjoy the silky Thai-chile chocolate panna cotta, whose consistency was closer to that of a pot au crème. Next time I'll probably just finish my meal with a glass of dragon-fruit juice. It tastes a bit like lychee and comes with the fruit's eyeball-like seeds settled in the bottom of the glass.

I prefer traditional eggs Benedict to Guillen's Southeast Asian version—Peking cake with sweet chicken sausage, bitter greens, poached eggs, and a lemongrass chile béarnaise sauce—but my impression may have been colored by a service mishap. Note to staff: If by chance, a few seconds after the dish has been presented, a poached egg decides to spontaneously slip off its perch and slide onto the tabletop, the polite thing to do is offer to make a new one, rather than watch your guests awkwardly return the egg to the plate. While many staffers did a nice job explaining unfamiliar terms and dishes, a few service basics were lacking. If the kitchen has switched the sautéed greens, the servers should identify them as Chinese broccoli, not the former baby bok choy. And they should know what type of whole fish the kitchen is grilling that day without having to ask...and also know that the Philippines weren't ever colonized by the French.

Subo's whole grilled snapper is so good it's scary
Kris Drake
Subo's whole grilled snapper is so good it's scary

Location Info



89 S. 10th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Restaurant > Filipino

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)


89 S. 10th St., Minneapolis
612.886.2377; Web site
small plates $7-$17

These are all relatively minor concerns, but I think that Guillen's food is a bright new addition to the local dining scene, and I just want to be sure the service does it justice. In the meantime, how about another round of coconuts?  

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