(Watch the Gaggan Experience in Manila)
But this is the first time I've tasted his food and gotten to experience his culinary philosophy. It was also Gaggan's first time in Manila learning about Filipino culture through our food and ingredients.
Here's a photo essay of the awesome Gaggan in Manila Cross Cultures dinner...
There were only 50 seats, with dinner times spread out from 6.30 pm, 8.00 pm, and 9.30 pm to ensure that the food is cooked fresh.
Still or Sparkling? I always go for San Pellegrino's Sparkling Natural Mineral Water for a refreshing bubbly start.
★ Chele Bomba. Gallery Vask cheese and rice puff with spiced herbed mousse.
Chele's rice puff was transformed by Gaggan into a spice bomb to get your appetite going.
Yogurt Explosion. Welcome to the Gaggan experience--our greatest hit from the day we opened.
A spherification of yogurt resembling a gelatin egg.
Crazy Nut. Edible plastic bag with nuts from all over Asia.
You have to eat the plastic bag, which contains nuts and spices. Interesting concept.
Veuve Clicquot Rose Non-Vintage
The meal was paired with Veuve Clicquot champagne throughout the entire 15-course degustation.
There were 2 batches of 3 appetizers, intended to be eaten with the hands to set the mood for the meal ahead.
★ Pinoy Cookie. Bengali mustard, seaweed, and dehydrated adobo flakes.
My favorite appetizer, which resembles a cookie polvoron topped with Bengali mustard that tastes like wasabi.
I am Indian. Tapioca pearls papadum (crackers) and tomato chutney.
A typical Indian appetizer of crunchy papadum--but made from mini-pearls--topped with a sweet tomato concoction.
Bird's Nest. Our fantasy about fries and dates chutney.
Nice concept of fries formed into a crunchy "nest".
Chef Gaggan suggested eating from the black bowl with tuna first before the white one with uni.
Ceviche. Local tuna, corn, and avocados in a spicy Indian marinade.
An Indian salad with corn and avocados topped with raw tuna.
Japanese Connection. Fresh uni and melon inspired from Fukuoka.
For me, anything with fresh sea urchin is good. The melon added a sweet refreshing finish to the dish.
It was fun getting to experience Chef Gaggan's quirky personality and funny side every time he introduced the dishes. Watch the video.
★ Magic Mushroom. Kashmiri morels and truffles growing on the wood as a log.
Nice presentation inspired by the forest, featuring two of the most expensive ingredients there--truffles & Kashmiri morels (Indian mushrooms).
★ Charcoal. Please guess this Filipino dish; this is definitely not the Bangkok version.
Bamboo charcoal-smoked Maya Maya plus a Filipino dish. Can you guess? This even has smoke oozing out of the bowl for that dramatic flair.
BAA...boy. Baa meaning mad in Thai language and boy means man enough to eat this spicy dish.
Lechon piece with crunchy skin and tender meat, cooked very well. The kitchen forgot to spice this up though.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rose 2004
I like the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rose, which is light and zesty with notes of raspberry and spiced apple. Plus, the deep pink color is elegant.
Catch of the Day. Lobster in South Indian style with curry leaves and pepper.
A simple lobster meat dish with spices and curry flavor.
I'm happy to be part of this group of foodies that enjoyed every bit of the degustation.
★ Soul Food. Swimmer crab in comfort curry with coconut milk and Indian rice.
This dish was inspired by Gaggan's first taste of palabok, so he created a curry dish using fermented coconut with aligue (crab fat).
Cross Cultures. Gallery Vask incredible dessert with yuzu sorbet and Gaggan spicing.
A typical Gallery Vask dessert infused with Gaggan spices and tangy yuzu sorbet.
Happy ENDing. Filipino mangoes cured with vanilla mizo and sake kasu (lees from sake production) ice cream.
A cured ripe mango with edible silver foil lining and sake ice cream. The desserts were just OK.
I was amazed at how Gaggan and Chele with their culinary team were able to quickly conceptualized in just 2 days an impressive degustation meal.
I loved the Chele Bomba (cheese and rice puff with spiced herb mousse), Pinoy Cookie (Bengali mustard, seaweed, and dehydrated adobo flakes), Magic Mushroom (Kashimiri morels and truffles growing on wood as a log), and Soul Food (swimmer crab in comfort curry with coconut and Indian rice).
I think the secret is in the spices, playful collaboration, and inspiration from the Filipino ingredients.
Congratulations to Chef Gaggan, Chef Chele and the Vask team, and Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu for a successful Gaggan in Manila dinner!
CROSS CULTURES by CHERYL TIU
Cross Cultures was founded by journalist Cheryl Tiu on the premise that food is one of the most accessible ways of exchanging cultures. Through the sharing of culinary experiences and talents between chefs and cooks, between countries and continents, we hope to dispel misconceptions and remove boundaries and rather integrate and contribute in building a more global community.
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. Thank you to our dinner seat mates Erika, Jin, Monette, and Les for making the experience more fun and memorable (captured on video). :)