4/16/2016 Update: VASK GALLERY: 15-Course Alamat Menu (2016) of Asia’s 39th Best Restaurant! 

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VASK Gallery’s 40 Days & 40 Nights Degustation is a collaboration of Chef J. Luis Gonzales and Chef Julieta Caruso, former Head Chef of Mugaritz (World’s Top #6 in San Sebastian, Spain), based on their 40-day food trip to discover authentic Filipino flavors all over the Philippines.

The limited degustation menu highlighted native and everyday local ingredients presented in gastronomic dishes. Much of the inspiration behind this effort came from their collective desire to acknowledge the deep historical connection the Philippines shares with Spain, through sustainable cooking.

The resulting flavors from the collaboration were very memorable. Witnessing what can be done with Filipino ingredients was a mind-blowing experience. This was one epic dinner that changed the way I look at Filipino cuisine and made me feel proud to be part of culinary history in the making in Manila.

Here’s our 40 Days & 40 Nights Degustation experience…


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Vask Gallery is the degustation fine dining section of VASK, with a limited seating of 20 per night.

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It showcases an interactive kitchen theater, where you can see Head Chef J. Luis Gonzales and his team create magical flavors in the kitchen.

Related Blog Post: VASK Gallery: Chef J. Luis’ 14-Course Modern Asian-Western Degustacion! @VaskManila

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Chele, nickname of Chef J. Luis, welcomes each of the guests personally to his culinary studio.

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The 40 Days & 40 Nights menu was a 13-course degustation of the best creations of Chef J. Luis Gonzales and Chef Julieta Caruso, inspired by their 40-day food trip around the Philippines.

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The Salabat Cocktail made from salabat and ginger liquor was a great aperitif to kick off the degustation. 

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✮ BINONDO: Shrimp Balls

The degustation started off with Binondo-inspired tasty shrimp balls, wrapped in a thick reduction of the shrimp head, topped with crunchy small shrimps, served Okoy-style.

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✮ BINONDO: “Balot” Balut

Next was an interesting interpretation of Balut, with quail egg and balut juice, wrapped a la Xiao Long Bao, and swimming in adobo sauce.

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Chele presented us with baby talong (eggplant) prepared in 3 different gourmet ways.

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LUTONG BAHAY: Talong

One was fried with ginger and honey and served on betel leaves. Another was served with pickled onions and shiso leaves. The last one (my favorite) was grilled and topped with dayap and quesong puti.

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It was exciting to see Chef Julieta intensely in action, preparing the dishes at just the right moment.

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IMBAO: Clams – Pickled Vegetables – Cashews – Herbs

Imbao is one of our favorite type of clams and is abundant in the Visayas region. The imbao that was served to us was cooked 2 ways–grilled and tempura style. It was an interesting gourmet take, mixing the imbao flavor with different pickled vegetables, green mango, coconut, cashews, and herbs.

I still prefer eating my imbao raw, fresh, and straight out of the fat, round shell though.

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Each dish is served elegantly and in Instagram-worthy presentations.

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✮ TABON-TABON: Uni – Tocino

Just imagine the flavors of fresh uni from Sorsogon, with soft Iberican pork fat, in ginger and milky sauce from the Tabon-Tabon fruit of Northern Mindanao, served Kinilaw-style.

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The next course was the main dish of Binulo and yes, a side of rice (finally part of the menu). 🙂

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✮ BINULO: Kalibangbang Leaves – Cochinillo

The cochinillo was cooked binulo-style in bamboo, with a sour sinigang soup with flavors of kalibangbang leaves from Pampanga. An awesome lechon-sinigang combination!

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MAIS: Corn – Crab – Cilantro

Corn puree with crab fat, topped with crab meat, cilantro, and micro ginger root. It looks like a savory creme brulee of crab and corn.

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MALUNGGAY: Maya-Maya Stew – Spring Onions – Vegetable Soup

Loved this Maya-Maya fish cooked just right, still juicy and soft, with clean-tasting malunggay soup with spring onions.  

Part of Vask’s advocacy is to only use fish that is sustainable and not endangered like the Lapu-Lapu.

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It was a privilege being served by Chef Julieta herself.
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✮ STEAK: Talinum – Kangkong – Native Basil

This was a surprise steak course, which was in fact, tuna cheeks cooked rare in the middle and seared on the outside. It was served with a green ensemble of talinum edible flower, kangkong, and pesto made from native basil from Negros Oriental.

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✮ BUKIDNON: Local Wagyu – Mustasa – Chicharo Seeds

The real steak course of local Kitayama Wagyu from Bukidnon, cooked medium and served with fried pork cheek a la chicharon. 🙂 

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The mustasa and chicharo seeds give a healthy, guiltless feel and refresh your palate in between bites.

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✮ CASSAVA: Coconut – Carabao Milk – Dayap

Loved this dessert with chunks of cassava cooked for hours in Carabao’s milk. It’s topped with tutong milk chips and milk skin with dayap, and served with yummy coconut ice cream. 🙂  

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TABLEA: Millet – Mint – Eucalyptus

Super thick, melted tablea chocolate, balanced with sour Madroños wild berries, mint, eucalyptus, and elder flower blooms. Served with crispy millet cookie sticks, this is the Vask version of suman with chocolate.

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ARABICA KAPE: Smooth – Crunchy – Creamy

My kind of dessert using Mindanao arabica coffee creme brulee, topped with coffee cookies and coconut foam. 

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The best course of all–Sungka with Filipino flavors inspired by the 40-day food trip! 🙂

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✮ SUNGKA: “This story begins with 40 days and 40 nights and it continues with an invitation to play this game. With each and every ingredient that you experience in the pods, we hope that it will inspire you to continue to support local farmers, enjoy native ingredients, and share our newfound purpose to explore Philippine flavors.” 

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Very playful and creative! It really makes you feel proud of our Filipino dessert flavors!

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Here’s a great souvenir from the Vask dinner in an old-school film container.

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The “film” showcases the photos from their 40-day travel. Galing!

 

Masterclass map with places and text

 

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About Gallery VASK Kulinarya Series
Kulinarya is a collaborative series with Chef J. Luis Gonzalez.

Chef J. Luis Gonzalez has always envisioned Gallery VASK as a place where he and his guests can experience an education of the senses, using the latest techniques in cooking. Its concept is centered on the research and development of local produce.

It emphasizes the use of native ingredients into palatable dishes, as a way to uplift the local food scene while offering a fresh perspective on fine dining.

Limited seating of 20 per night. 

Address: 5/F CLIPP Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City.
For reservations, call +63 917 546-1673
Facebook: Gallery Vask
Websitehttp://galleryvask.com/

 

Related Blog Posts:

Live an Awesome Life,

Anton
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of my friend, Jean Salonga Fernando. I wrote this article with my own biases, opinions, and learnings. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Congratulations to Chef J. Luis Gonzales and Chef Julieta Caruso for this epic Vask dinner – one of the best I’ve had in Manila! đź™‚

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P.P.S. Here’s the new Vask Gallery Degustation Lakbay Menu & Alamat Menu

Lakbay JPG

Alamat JPG