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VASK: Traditional Basque Cuisine and Modern Gastronomy @VaskManila

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Read: VASK Gallery: 40 Days & 40 Nights Degustation (Chef J. Luis Gonzalez x Chef Julieta Caruso) @VaskManila

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A lot of people are excited about the must-eat place of 2013 in Manila -- Chef J. Luis Gonzales' VASK.

Chef J. Luis worked for some of the top restaurants in the world -- #2 El Celler de Can Roca, #3 Mugaritz, and #8 Arzak -- all based in Spain. He also worked at El Bulli (and had a short stint in Noma).

He decided to move to Asia and worked for Sofitel and Shangri-La Boracay initially. But he was really passionate about establishing a Basque Restaurant in Manila where he can showcase his creativity, introducing both the traditional tapas and modern cuisine using the latest culinary/molecular gastronomy techniques.

The name VASK is inspired by its cuisine from the Basque Country, which is called País Vasco in Spanish. The Spanish dialect prefers the use of K so they named the resto VASK to refer to Modern Basque Cuisine. Coincidentally, the Clipp Center facade (designed by Ed Calma) uses V, A, K elements.

We celebrated Easter with the family at VASK with their special set menu of traditional Basque Cuisine (P1,950+/person). Here is our Happy Easter experience:

Related Blog Posts:

What's New in BGC Restaurants in 2013?

Tapas Bar & Dining Room

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VASK occupies the 5th floor of the Clipp Building. It has three main sections: The Tapas Bar & Dining Room area, The Outdoor Lounge, and The Degustation Art Gallery.

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MENUPintxos Bar Menu | Wine and Beer, The Hard Stuff | Non Alcoholic, Cocktail List

The bar is where you hang out for Pintxos, which is the Basque term for tapas/pinchos. It has a modern-casual appeal and can be intimidating because of the who's who of Manila who dine here.

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VASK ALA CARTE MENU:
Traditional Tapas (Est. 13th century)  | Modern Tapas (Est. 21st Century Basque Country)

The dining room is cozy and has a low ceiling with Mickey Mouse-like designs. Even with two seatings (6.30pm and 8.00pm), they are usually fully booked during dinner time.

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They incorporate surprisingly fun elements like these skull lightbulbs.

 

Outdoor Lounge

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The lounge is where you hang out with friends al fresco while drinking your cocktails.

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I love how the lounge design is consistent with the the letters of VASK.

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Here's a look at the building facade of the Clipp Center with the V, A, and K elements.

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Check out the view of the Rockwell Makati Skyline. You can also see the St. Michael the Archangel Church construction below.

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Here's the view of the developing Bonifacio Global City skyline.

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Only thing is, a big tower crane obstructs the lovely view.

 

Degustation Art Gallery

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The Degustation Art Gallery is still being completed. When finished, artworks will surround the 20-seater dining area. This is where Chef J. Luis intends to unleash his creativity and where diners can fully taste his cuisine with a choice of a 5-course or 9-course degustation menu.

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It has its own show kitchen where you can watch each dish being prepared.

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The attention to detail is impressive -- they even have their own unique bowls and plates. The whole concept is something you cannot soft launch, so they estimate that it will take 2 months to complete.

 

Pintxos

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To start off your dining experience, you've got to try Chef J. Luis' Pintxos, which are little gourmet creations on top of thick slices of bread.

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★ Jamon (P95/each +10% service charge) with Parmesan Mousse.

I loved this thin, flavorful slice of Jamon with microgreens, and parmesan cheese turned into mousse. The bread was a bit too big for one bite, though. You can probably savor it in 3-4 mini-bites.

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★ Sous vide tuna (P95/each +10% service charge) with Garlic chili oil, caramelized Onion, and Piquillo pepper.

Here's a traditional pintxos that has soft and flavorful tuna with sweet caramelized onions. I liked the spicy kick of the Piquillo pepper.

 

VASK Starters

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Chef J. Luis plates the starters to perfection, and demands the same high quality from his culinary team.

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★ Croquetas de Pollo (P225 +10% service charge). Chicken croquettes.

The boys enjoyed this -- crunchy on the outside, with super soft chicken with mousse-like yumminess inside.

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★ Salpicon de Marisco (P430 +10% service charge). Prawns, Octopus, Mussels, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Onions, Red Bell Peppers.

The fresh seafood salad was superb! I personally liked the prawns and octopus.

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★ Mejillones Tigre (P340 +10% service charge). Spicy Crispy Mussels.

This is something unique and a favorite of most foodies, so we're told. It's like a baked mussel croquette served on a mussel shell. It wasn't that spicy.

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Fabada (P435 +10% service charge). White Beans, Iberian Sausage, Chorizo, Morcilla, Soup.

The Fabada was very good too. It had just the right thickness and came with flavorful Iberian sausage and chorizo slices.

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Bread is also served here -- one is a soft bread with olives (which a lot of foodies like) and an artisan bread with a thick outer skin but soft inside. The bread that we got was a bit tough, though. And as in Spain, they don't serve it with butter and olive oil dip, not unless you request for it.

 

Txuleton Ribeye Steak!

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★ Txuleton (USDA High Choice Ribeye) (P2,750 +10% service charge). Rib Eye, Bell Peppers, Potato Confit.

The Txuleton steak was awesome! It's definitely one of the best steaks here in Manila. You have a choice of boneless USDA High Choice Ribeye or a Bone-in version of 28-day Dry Aged US Angus Prime Ribeye (P4,200).

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It's best to order it medium-cooked so that it's soft and flavorful by itself.

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I highly recommend eating the meat with the fat portions and a bit of Himalayan salt. If there are fat leftovers, you can request the kitchen to make them crispy.

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It's a sin to serve a dipping sauce with the steak. Instead, they serve a traditional potato in olive oil and my favorite sweet confit bell pepper side dish.

 

Desserts

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Arroz con Leche (P210 +10% service charge). Rice, Cinnamon, Milk, Caramel Ice Cream.

I love European rice porridge-type desserts served with homemade vanilla ice cream. It's sweet, milky, and reminds me of white champorado.

(Although, the boys did not like it because of the aftertaste.)

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★ Petit Four. Chocolate Truffle.

This complimentary dessert truffle from the chef was bursting with dark and white chocolate goodness!

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Thanks to Chef J. Luis for serving an excellent meal -- the boys loved it!

About Chef J. Luis Gonzalez

Born in Santander, Spain, Luis Gonzalez found an affinity for cooking at a very early age. Through an innate desire to cook, he began to prepare food for his family throughout the years and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. When he reached his maturity, he expressed his desire to cook professionally, which his family strongly disagreed with due to the fact that the culinary profession was not as highly regarded as it is now. Following the behest of his elders, Jose Luis enrolled in a university where he studied Business Management and Marketing. Following his graduation, he opened up his own business. Taking his earnings from his business, he enrolled and paid for his culinary education and degree from Artxanda, Bilbao. From that schooling, his career started to skyrocket to unimaginable proportions.

During the first two years of his college career, Chef Luis spent his summers working in a hotel and finished his college culinary practice in the Michelin star restaurant Andra Mari. After graduation, he was rewarded with a position with the world-renowned restaurant Arzak, in San Sebastian. Instantly acknowledged for his inherent talents, he was assigned to the Arzak Laboratory where he developed and facilitated upcoming menus and conceptions. During his time at Arzak, his compulsion for fine cuisine increased and he pursued and strived for more knowledge.

Following his time at Arzak, he continued his career at the legendary restaurant Mugaritz where he was Chef de Partie of fish as well as also working behind the scenes in the laboratory. Luis depicts his time at Mugaritz as the most influential time in his career as he fell in love with the philosophy of the Mugaritz kitchen. Due to the good friendship of Arzak Chef Juan Mari Arzak and Ferran Adria, Chef of El Bulli, he transferred to El Bulli, the number one restaurant in the world at that time. He was 1 of 35 chefs accepted, amongst 80, 000 applicants. After finishing a season at El Bulli, he decided to take a tour of restaurants in southern France where had the privilege of experiencing Brass. After his tour of Southern France he spent a few months at yet another world-famous location, Cellar de Can Roca before obtaining a position at the Nerua restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a part of the Mugaritz company. He started as Chef de Partie of meats, then pastries and starters, and then became head Chef of events and catering as well as Sous Chef for the fine dining and gastronomy restaurant. Jose Luis describes this time in his career as a very important step in his culinary education. Nerua-Guggenheim shared a similar philosophy with Noma and its concept of the kitchen. At that time, Jose Luis was able to intern with Noma to experience their new technologies and concepts of cooking.

After almost 3 years at Guggenheim, Luis moved to the Philippines to occupy the position of Chef de Cuisine for the luxury hotels Sofitel and Shangri-La where his culinary skills were utilized to run multiple kitchens and increase the food quality of both establishments.

Influenced by traveling to all the far reaches of Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, etc.) Chef Luis Gonzalez strives to find new flavors, ingredients, and most importantly different ways to understand food. This has helped him create a distinctive awareness of how to combine modern techniques with an Asian perspective. From the traditional to the most modern and sophisticated, Chef Luis takes the best of both worlds and combines them in his own unique way. Using the knowledge obtained from working in some of the best restaurants in the world and his many Asian culinary trips he creates his own personal world; a world that delivers an exceptional culinary experience at VASK.

The kitchen is passion and love. In some ways, I need to cook to live. I don’t understand life without cooking. I don’t see myself in any other job.” - Chef J. Luis Gonzalez -

 

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Overall, we loved the Pintxos, Croquetas, Txuleton Steak and yummy desserts! We (adults and the boys) enjoyed every bit of their Easter menu except for the bread.

The modern yet cozy design of the restaurant is certainly exciting. The ceiling may be a bit low, though, for the ambiance they want to create.

It's a good introduction also to the Basque Spanish cuisine versus the Catalan cuisine-dominated Spanish Restaurants in Manila. Apparently, Basque restos usually don't have paella as a staple in the menu. The closest you can order is risotto.

If you are dining with children, it's good to note that the menu is kid-friendly, but the lack of rice options might leave them still hungry afterwards.

We were happy with the traditional Basque cuisine we tried, and we can't wait to go back to check out Chef J. Luis' Degustation Gallery!

Let me know your VASK dining experience in the Comments section.

 

VASK MODERN TAPAS & GASTRONOMIC CUISINE
5th Floor, Clipp Center, 11th Avenue Corner, 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
(Beside CVC Law Building. Near The Goose Station and St. Michael the Archangel Church in BGC)
Telephone: +632 217-6563
Mobile
: +63 920 974-4742 or +63 917 806-5292
Email: vaskmanila@gmail.com
FacebookVASK Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine
Twitter@VaskManila

Operating Hours: Dinner Time only. Two seatings: 6.30pm and 8.00pm.

★ - Highly Recommended!

Related Blog Posts:

What's New in BGC Restaurants in 2013?

Live an Awesome Life,

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Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz and Like our Official Facebook Page: Our Awesome Planet :) 
If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: Our VASK Easter meal is a treat of my blogger friend Jean Fernando of www.TriporTreats.com, who is one of the partners of VASK, together with her brother Jerico Fernando and friends Paula Cortez, Tessa Prieto Valdes, Carlo Calma and Chef J. Luis.

I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. We only feature awesome experiences in the blog.

I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I don't receive compensation from food and travel places we feature in the blog.

P.S. VASK Dining Room is still on soft opening. In fact, they use a genset for power because the completion of the building was a bit delayed. Best to go towards the end of April when they have normal Meralco power.

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You can park on the 4th floor and take the elevator. Notice how it has a map of Taguig as the design element? :)

P.P.S. TIP: Their normal chairs (with sexy pencil-like legs) fell down more than 5 times when the boys sat on them. Ask for more stable chairs, like the one below, if you are dining with kids.

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Comments

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Thanks, Anton! See you very soon again!

Ciao,
Jean
ToT

I loved reading your review and will be putting Vask on my to-do list next time I come home to Manila. That steak is beautiful!

We had our Easter dinner at Vask - food was amazing!! We can't wait to go back.

I am Jose Luis´ sister and I really appreciate the wonderful comments you have written about my brother´s profession.It is a long time since we haven´t seen him and although we keep in touch it is very moving to hear other people praising his cooking.
I wish I could be there. !!!!

Just love to see vask traditional cuisine and food seems to be yummieee. thanks for sharing

Hello Anton, I'd like to read a post about van gouh is bipolar restaurant, have you tried it?

The Spanish dialect prefers the use of K so they named the resto VASK to refer to Modern Basque Cuisine.Basque or is not a Spanish dialect, it's not even a Romance language.

Calling both numbers to
Reserve but cannot be reached

Hi both numbers still cannot be reached,

http://galleryvask.com/

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