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

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

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Chef J. Luis Gonzales has worked for 3 of the Top Restaurants in the World for 2013 — #1 El Celler de Can Roca, #4 Mugaritz, and #8 Arzak, all in Spain.

After launching the Vask Tapas Bar featuring traditional Basque cuisine, he is now ready to launch his signature 14-Course Modern Asian-European Degustacion. It’s an exciting integration of his learnings from the top fine dining restaurants in Spain, using modern gastronomy techniques and infusing Asian flavors and ingredients. 

This is THE degustacion that Manila will be known for in the culinary world, something we can all be proud of! 🙂 

(WARNING: It is best to experience the degustacion without reading this post and just let Chef J. Luis surprise you and introduce you to his signature dishes.)

Here’s a photo essay of our experience at Chef J. Luis’ 14-Course Modern Asian-Western Degustacion…

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Chef J. Luis “Chele” Gonzales was very excited after hosting all the top chefs in Manila for a Chef’s Table preview of the degustacion.

One of the chefs raved about it saying that this was the best meal they had in Manila in 7 years.

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There were three kinds of bread served — ciabatta, cereal bread, and baguettini. I like the cereal bread best for its texture and flavor.

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We loved dipping the bread in their high quality extra virgin olive oil from Spain, a three-time winner of the Best Olive Oil award.

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We started with a sweet Aperitivo and a glass of cava — the Spanish champagne.

(Note: The Aperitivo is included in the degustacion. From October 1-15, receive a complimentary bottle of cava for a reservation for two.)

Each dish is presented and explained by the chef himself.

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#1: MAGELLAN’S DIMSUM. Parmesan Xiao Long Bao, Gorgonzola Moshi, Apple Wanton.

It is recommended to eat this from left to right. First, the parmesan liquid explodes in your mouth as you pop the xiao long bao-inspired presentation. 

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Next, the smooth cheesy cream served like mochi teases your palate and leaves you craving for more. Lastly, the apple wanton cleanses the flavors to prepare you for the next dish.

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The degustacion is held in Vask Gallery featuring the works of local artists curated by Carlo Calma. 

It can sit up to 20 people but they are initially opening with a max of 14 seats. You can book the whole gallery for one group in one night.

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#2: TUNA POD. Kalamata Olives, Basil, Tuna, Lemon Grass Ice Cream, Moroccan Sauce.

The next course is silky-smooth and flavorful tuna topped with a refreshing lemon grass ice cream, inspired by his trips to Vietnam. It is served with dry ice smoke that oozes out, providing a dreamy effect.

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Best to sit in the table next to the show kitchen where you get see the chef prepare all the dishes.

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#3: BOQUERONES. Kalamansi, Marinated Anchovies, Beetroot, Frozen Powder, Olive Marmalade, Bread Crumbs.

TIP: The best way to eat this is to first taste each ingredient separately — the fish, the beetroot, the frozen powder, and the olive marmalade…

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… and then combine everything to taste the matching flavors of the kalamansi-marinated fish, chili garlic, olives, and beet root.

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Each of the napkins are hand-stiched with an invitation to open your mind and explore your senses.

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Carlo Calma created a signature container for each dish like this Sea Urchin-inspired bowl.

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✮ #4: BEER URCHIN. Sea Urchin, Beer Clams, Foie Gras, Orange.

All of the dishes featured in the degustacion are really good, but there are highlight dishes like this one that would literally blow your mind! 🙂 

Can you imagine scooping out a combination of sea urchin with foie gras powder, beer foam, and clam flavors?

Chele described it as a combination of “bitter taste, iodine, and ocean”.

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Thanks to my blogger friend, Jean of Trip or Treats and co-owner of Vask, for inviting me to the taste test of Chef J. Luis’ degustacion.

Also, check out Cheryl Tiu and her own experience of VASK’s new 14-course degustacion menu.

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After the appetizers, we transition to the meats, starting with a big chunk of cochinillo.

BTW, you can opt for a shorter degustacion menu, and this is one of the dishes they would remove.

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#5: COCHINILLO16-hour Sous-vide Baby Pork, Vanilla Sauce, Pumpkin Gnocchi.

The flavors here are more straightforward. Soft and juicy lechon topped with vanilla sauce, and pumpkin pasta for the carbs. 

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Each dish is not only paired with its signature plate but also with its own unique cutlery (courtesy of Carlo Calma as well).

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At this point, the wine is served to pair with the fish course.

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It’s great to see how they assemble this dish, with each element carefully prepared and designed to fit together perfectly.

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✮ #6: SCHOOL OF PEAS AND TOOTHFISH. Grilled Seabass, Green Pea-Basil Jus, Iberian Tocino, Spherified Peas.

The seabass is silky-smooth…they know how to prepare their fish! The green peas are pureed and formed back into little pea-shape spheres to give that popping, juicy effect. I also love the fat of the Iberian ham and its sweet tocino flavor. 

Check out the background of this dish from Chef J. Luis.

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Even the carafes are made specifically for Vask Gallery.

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As a palate cleanser, liquid nitrogen is used to create a cottony coconut-flavored marshmallow.

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#7: PALM CRISP. Coconut Sorbet.

It’s crisp outside but super creamy inside, shaped into a marshmallow, resting on a pair of mini-branches.

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You have to use your hand to eat it and lick the coco cream off your fingers. 🙂

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Chef Chele with Carlo Calma, who transforms into “Carluccio” when he is at his creative best. 🙂 

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Carlo Calma is the visual artist behind the installation art entitled Flower Primitive in Nuvali.

Cut, bent, and welded metal sheets in automotive paint-finish

Inspired by the gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), the artist uses this red flower from childhood memories to create a monumental metal sculpture for the picturesque grass lawn by the lakeside. The performations on the metal petals create playful light-and-shadow effects on the landscape, depending on the time of day. The openwork design also recalls the weave patters in native straw hats that are often worn for a promenade in the sunlight.

Young architect, interior designer, and visual artist Carlo Calma had lived and trained in London and the United States for several years. He is currently fascinated by the contrast between analog and digital realms, and is inspired by socio-cultural differences in society and its effects on daily life and the environment.

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The next course is another favorite, and it’s not your usual Foie Gras dish.

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It’s served in an oval pod and opened in front of you for that hot-and-smoking effect.

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✮ #8: FOIE IN A ROCK. Banana Textures, Chips, Coffee Sauce, Grilled,  Foie Gras,  Sous-vide, Smoked 

Foie Gras and banana? YES, it works! You have to eat it with the crispy banana for added texture and the coffee sauce to complete the flavors. It’s like your Banana Cue with Foie Gras?

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My pescatarian seatmate Cay Cuasay of Cupcake Lab fame loved the sea bass, commenting that they really know how to cook their fish. She also loved the Foie Gras. 🙂

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 This is one of the dishes that looks crazy, but you get to appreciate once you’ve tasted it.

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The culinary team may be young but they’re very confident. They are able to plate the dishes quickly and with precision.

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#9: RADISH GARDEN. Wagyu, Apple-Wasabi Sauce, Steamed Sliced Radish.

The highlight of the main dishes is this American Wagyu, cooked medium-rare to get that smooth fatty texture.

(Note: In most fine dining places in the world, according to the chef, they won’t ask you how you want your meat done because they want to cook it the way it should be appreciated.)

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Savored each slice, but it also would have been nice to pair the meat with rice.

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Best paired with a sexy glass of red wine.

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The service though is a bit amatuerish. I hope they develop that witty and warm Filipino kind of service in their staff.

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✮ #10: ROGER RABBIT. Baby Carrot Sous-vide, Nutmeg, Greek Cardamon Yogurt, Truffle Crumbs, Tomato Basil Sorbet.

This is a pre-dessert, the course in between the meat mains and the actual dessert. It’s like eating a cold garden-fresh salad with hints of truffle.

Check out the Chef’s explanation of the Roger Rabbit, which is one of his favorites.

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It was fun watching this course get assembled…like an artist painting on a canvas.

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✮ #11: CHEEZE. Fondue, Ice Cream, Snow, Cheese, Membrillo Cream, Apples, Nuts.

You eat it from right to left, with the Parmesan fondue first, then the gorgozola ice cream, and finally the goat cheese snow. A unique cheese platter that all of us were raving about. 🙂

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#12: SHOOTERS. Warm Chocolate Balls, Strawberry-Oregano Coulis, Ginger Ice Cream, Mangosteen.

This was a good dish of chocolate balls paired with ginger ice cream, with bits of strawberry and a subtle mangosteen flavor. 

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You have to use your spoon and fork to scoop it, like you’re eating a chocolate soup dessert. 

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#13: SUMMER BREEZE. Creamy Tapioca, Cafe, Cardamom, Violet, Kefir Lime, Green Tea Ice Cream.

This is Vask’s signature dessert of mini-pearls, cream, and green tea ice cream.

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For the finish, yes, you have to eat santan flowers…just like how we would do it in our youth. 🙂

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#14: Chocolates, chocolates, chocolates.

The degustacion ends with a serving of chocolates on a mirror plate — chili calamansi and salt, then chocolate sponge with wasabi ice cream and milk flakes, and finally, lemongrass pomelo chocolate.

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Congratulations to Chef J. Luis “Chele” Gonzales and his culinary team for a job well done with the 14-Course Modern Asian-Western Degustacion!

You can actually taste all the hard work that goes into the conceptualization and execution of the entire feast. 🙂

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Overall, I love the unique combination of textures and flavors in the dishes, and the playfullness of everything without trying too hard. It’s a degustacion that Manila  has never tasted before. 🙂 I like that you can finish and enjoy the degustacion without getting too full by the end.

Hats off to the passionate Chef Chele for making us proud with the knowledge that we can execute this kind of degustacion in the Philippines! Compliments also to Carlo Calma for the innovative designs to enhance the degustacion experience. 🙂

I do hope they add a rice component in one of the courses to stay true to the Asian roots. I also hope the quality of service improves to be at par with the food, the culinary team, and the chef.

A must-try! Best to eat here for a special occasion like your anniversary, or with close friends who appreciate good food and are open to flavor possibilities. Budget is about $115/head.

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VASK 14-Course Degustacion: Carluccio Menu

VASK’s 14-course degustacion tasting menu has 14 seats every Tuesday to Saturday, dinner time only. 

P4,900/head inclusive of VAT plus 10% tax.

Additional P1,500/head for wine pairing degustacion.

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
FacebookVASK Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine

✮ – Highlight of the degustacion


What’s New in BGC Restaurants in 2013?

Live an Awesome Life,


P.S. Thank you for the wonderful company in this historic launch of Chef J. Luis Gonzales’ 14-Course Modern Asian-Western Degustacion!

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

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Alamat JPG

7 thoughts on “VASK Gallery: Chef J. Luis’ 14-Course Modern Asian-Western Degustacion! @VaskManila

  1. I appreciate the photos but i just really don’t get this comment “I hope they develop that witty and warm Filipino kind of service in their staff.” That seems to be a really personal suggestion no? not everybody wants a “Filipino kind of service”.

  2. I agree with Jake. I ate there and the service was actually one of the best parts. They were efficient, knowledgeable, and warm in the right kind of way, similar to experiences I’ve had in degustations abroad. It’s hard to chit-chat when the pacing of a 14-course menu has to be executed perfectly so that it fits within 3 hours or less.

  3. yes. no offense to chatty wait staff, but I’d rather give my attention to my dining companion and the food rather and then have a staff that would answer my questions if needed. if I wanted to chat I’d be at Dencio’s.

  4. Nice place, and without getting into the details, some of the executions of the dishes (on their regular menu not on this degustacion), were not done with much finesse. He doesn’t get the ratios right, as some of the condiments which are supposed to play supporting roles to the mains end up overpowering them. The service was great all throughout but I would have to agree with a lot of people that this place feels like a cafeteria. They should have thought this out more as the interiors do not complete the experience of what they’re serving. Well, I am not at all impressed with triportreats anyway if she’s managing this. She’s exposed to a lot of things but yet still doesn’t have an educated palate.

  5. Vic- I think personal attacks are pretty petty, and if were talking about what triportreats is ‘exposed to’, Vask is meant to be have the noise level of a ‘cafeteria’, just like tapas bars along San Sebastian or in Spain, which are definitely designed to be more casual. I think the gallery is the only part of Vask that is meant to be fine dining, really. Well, to each his own, but I think that the food Chele Gonzalez is doing at Vask is probably the most progressive and exciting that we have in Manila, along with Bruce Ricketts. Maybe his ratios ‘aren’t right’, or the condiments play stronger roles than you like, but that’s what I think makes Chele good- he challenges your palette, and keeps things interesting.

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