Vask, is a modern Filipino / Tapas restaurant divided into several different concept areas. There is a bar and lounge area, a casual cafe dining area, as well as a fine dining area. The overall feel of the place is very playful and relaxed due to the decor, even the fine dining area has a very chill and tranquil ambiance. The multi-concept establishment is headed by Spanish Chef, Jose Luis “Chele” Gonzalez. I had the immense pleasure of being invited to dine at Gallery Vask last week. I was truly surprised by their presentation and execution of the entire meal. It was a memorable and unique gastronomic journey exploring Filipino ingredients and food traditions interpreted in a very contemporary setting. Chef Chele’s experience comes from some of Spain’s best restaurants, or in other words, some of the best restaurants in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. If you don’t recognize any of these names, then let me just tell you he has a world class, enviable level of experience: El Bulli – The unforgettable #1 rated restaurant for many years. A ground breaking institution, definitely worth researching. El Celler de Can Roca – #1 in 2013, #2 in 2014 Mugaritz -#4 in 2013, #6 in 2014 and considered the “most adventurous restaurant”. Arzak -#8 in 2013, and #8 in 2014. Vask uses locally-sourced Filipino ingredients, and through modern cooking techniques, transforms them into something that feels very cutting edge. They have reinvented local ingredients into some amazingly fresh and inspiring translations. It is refreshing to experience such a well-executed modern menu. Speaking to Chef Chele after our meal was such a treat. He is truly inspired by Filipino ingredients and resources, and each dish we enjoyed that night was very evident of that. His attention to detail was superb. He apparently designs the plating of each course after he has created the dish. He’s known to travel to different regions of the Philippines to source specific native ingredients as well as the materials for the plating he envisions them to have.
The following dishes were apart of “Lutong Bahay” roughly translated, “food cooked at home”.
Dessert Sungka- It seems every time someone I know returns from traveling around the Philippines, they bring with them a local favorite homemade snack from whichever province they visited is famous for. It is tradition here, it seems, and those from certain provinces are always proud of the particular dessert or snack their people make the best. It is quite common to always have a few of these small, locally famous treats around the house especially for Merienda(A light snack between meals). Sungka is a historic game in the Philippines that uses shells and a large board with divots. The objective is to fill each space without occupying a empty hole left by the other player. The empty hole is called “burnt house”. I enjoyed people at the dinner table discussing over dessert how they weren’t allowed to play Sungka as children since it was considered bad luck due to the whole “burnt house” controversy. 🙂 Chef Chele combined the board of Sungka with the multitude of various treats to create a very cool dessert for the whole table to share. I’m going to attempt to name each one of the sweet treats starting from the top left to the top right.
P.S. -Here are a few shots of their lounge interior. Really unique and ecclectic place. Like I said before, their approach with the interior, and the art direction is somewhat playful. It could even be said to be reminiscent of a toy shop. This creates a really relaxed atmosphere for such a nice venue.