A Taste of Ethiopia in Manila! #crossculturesXeatethio by @CherylTiu @VaskManila

Check out The GAGGAN Experience in Manila! #GagganCrossCultures by @CherylTiu @VaskManila.

(Watch A Taste of Ethiopia in Manila!)

The first Cross Cultures Dinner in Manila featuring Ethiopian Food was recently organized by Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu, featuring Hong Kong-based Helina Tesega of Eat Ethio in collaboration with Chef J. Luis Gonzales of Vask Manila.

Journalist Cheryl Tiu founded Cross Cultures on the premise that food is one of the best and easiest ways to experience different cultures from around the world. Eat Ethio was inspired by Helina’s own journey and aims to provide a modern insight into the food and other cultural treasures of Ethiopia.

It was very educational and we would like to share our awesome Ethiopian food experience with you…

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We always like to attend dinners at Vask because they start with cocktails at Carlo Calma’s Contemporary Art Gallery at the 12th floor. 



Cocktails start with an aperitif drink: Valdivieso Sparkling Brut

(Tasting Notes: Fresh and fruity aromas outlined by green apple, toasted almonds and floral notes. Round and balanced in the mouth with a fresh and lively acidity.) 


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Changemaker Cheryl Tiu, who conceptualized Cross Cultures and introduced Ethiopian food and culture to Manila in style. 



“Agriculture is a large industry in Ethiopia. On Sundays, locals scour the markets in search of the freshest produce.”

This is my favorite image in the series of photographs by Cheryl Tiu–very colorful, rustic, and authentic.


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MARULA OIL. Softer, smoother age-defying radiance. More antioxidants than Argan Oil. Omega-rich hydration. Faster absorption.

Marula is the new “it” oil raved about by Elle, Allure, and Cosmopolitan magazines that contains 60% more antioxidants than Argan Oil and is better in terms of absorbency, moisture, retention, and stability. The oil is extracted from the nut of the Marula fruit, which is abundant in Africa.

(Pure Marula Facial Oil will be available in the SM Department store beauty section in the following locations: SM Makati, SM Aura, Mall of Asia, Megamall, and SM North EDSA.) 



Kibeh. Herbed ButterKorerima. Ethiopian Black Cardamom | Mitmita. Hot spice blendBerbere. Ethiopian stable spice blend

These Ethiopian spices will change your appreciation of African food. I love the heat of Mitmita and exotic taste of Berbere! 


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The best part is getting to enjoy Ethiopian food for the first time with foodies of Manila: Sanju of Table for Three, Cyrene of Interaksyon, and Alicia of Town and Country.


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There was a total of 90 guests who were lucky to part of this Ethiopian dinner (P2,500+/head), which was immediately sold out within 24 hours.


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The Vask Gallery serves as the Chef’s Table to get an intimate look at Helina and her modern take on Ethiopian cuisine.


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Eat Ethio’s humble beginnings started in Shanghai in early 2013 appearing at markets, events and pop-ups, rapidly gaining fans both familiar and new to the flavours of Ethiopian food.

Now based in Hong Kong, bringing her take on her Mum’s recipes, Ethiopian native Helina Tesega is honored to be invited to the Philippines courtesy of Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu to appear at Gallery Vask.

Inspired by her own journey, Eat Ethio provides a modern insight into the food, coffee, music, designs and culture of Ethiopia.



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AMBASHA. Housemade ambasha bread, telba (flax seed spread), timatim (tomatoes), radish. 

This resembles a tomato bruschetta with an ambasha bread that was a bit tough, but I like the flax seed spread used instead of mayo. 

There’s no concept of courses in Ethiopian cuisine but the food was presented one at a time for better appreciation.


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Wine Pairing: Beringer Sparkling White Zinfandel

(Tasting NotesThe nose has lovely floral notes and the palate begins with a nice, classic “mousse” mouthfeel, and strawberry, brown spice and citrus flavors interplay with a refreshing acidity that carries everything into a long, delicious finish.)


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KATEGNA. Injera with Awaze and Ayib cheese.

Our first taste of teff injera which has no calorie, lots of fiber, glutten free, and a lot better than quinoa. 

We like this soft pancake style appetizer with Ayib, an Ethiopian homemade cheese that resembles a cottage cheese-ricotta hybrid and Awaze, a spicy Ethiopian marinade made from Berbere spice.



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It’s always fun eating with other food bloggers like Jin of Jin Loves to Eat because they understand the need to document the food, appreciate each bite, and are able to a have interesting conversations about it.


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Wine Pairing: Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012

(Tasting Notes: Enhanced with intense citrus, ripe stone fruit and white fig, and finishes with a clean grassy note and crispy acidity.)


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PRAWN WRAP. Berbere and mojo marinated grilled prawns, kolo (toasted barley), mustard leaves.

The prawn wrap did not make an impression. It was a simple prawn with berbere spice wrapped in mustard leaves. 

CEVICHE. Fin tuna, mitmita, olive oil infused with korerima, calamansi, soof (toasted safflower seeds). 

The ceviche has a taste and consistency of a mayonnaise and served on top of toasted barley. It was good but it was lost in translation since it does not look like one.



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It was awesome to see each of the dishes carefully prepared and presented like artwork by the Vask Culinary team. 


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★ KITFO. Mayura wagyu beef tartare, mitmita, korerima, kibe with gomen (kale), and homemade ayib cheese. Served with toasted injera and ambasha.

Eating raw beef is common in Ethiopia according to Helina. The beef tartare was carefully made from Mayura wagyu mixed with kale and best enjoyed with injera chips topped with ayib cheese.

One of our favorites! I’m not a raw beef fan but we enjoyed and savored each bite.


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Wine Pairing: Chateau St. Jean Fume Blan 2012 (Sonoma County)

(Tasting Notes: With vivid aromas of peach, nectarine, fresh fig and a soft floral citrus note. The nose leads to luscious palate with flavors of red sweet apple, touch of honey and a core of vibrant lemon-lime acidity on the finish.)


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AZIFA. Dark speckled lentils, seanfich (Ethiopan mustard), spinach, timatim (cherry tomatoes). 

Very healthy and was surprisingly very tasty, especially when eaten together with the tomato and spinach.



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★ LAMB TIBS. Lamb, kibe, mitmita.

A simple lamb dish that is tender, perfectly cooked with just the right heat from the mitmita spice.


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Wine Pairing: Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2013

(Tasting Notes: Bright ruby in color and displays ripe currant flavors rounded out by aromas of cedar and spice. Has immediate fruit-forward flavors that balances well with the toasty smokiness of the oak.)

The wine pairing transitioned nicely to red wine with the classic Pinot Noir pairing with the lamb. 


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Carlo Calma, owner of Vask Manila, enjoying his lamb. 🙂  



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★ DORO WOT. Berbere spiced slow-cooked chicken wot, housemade soft cheese, soft boiled egg. Served with gluten free teff injera and ‘Helina’s Dad’s Rice’ inspired rice. 

We fell in love the with Berbere spice slow cooked with onions to form a crave-worthy sauce. 


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Best to eat it with your bare hands by getting a piece of chicken with the ayib cheese + egg then wrapped in injera and dipped in the extra bowl of Berbere sauce. I’m still really craving for this! 


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Teff Injera is made from grounded teff grain mixed with a starter like yogurt then fermented for a few days giving it a healthy sour aftertaste. 


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Wine Pairing: Valdivieso Single Vineyard Malbec 2009 

(Tasting Notes:  Intense wild berry fruits, fresh blackberries, blueberries, with a lovely lifted floral character with firm tannins that give structure and length. Well complemented with a fresh feel from the acidity, which balances the fruity character of the wine.)

I like the pairing of the Doro Wot with the Malbec but you have an option to pair it with the Chardonnay. 


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Wine pairing: St. Francis Chardonnay 2012 (Sonoma County) 

(Tasting Notes: A creamy and classic Chardonnay with multi-layered aromas of apple, tropical fruit and vanilla. Flavors of Fuji apple and toasted marshmallow lead to a silky mouth feel and a lingering finish.)


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Congratulations to Cheryl Tiu and Marula Oil for an awesome introduction to Ethiopian food and African culture!



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POPCORN ICE CREAM. Housemade popcorn ice cream served with a shot of buna, ‘pour-over’ Ethiopian single origin coffee.

Ethiopians don’t eat dessert, but they would gather for coffee after the meal, watch a movie, and eat popcorn. This was the inspiration behind this dish. 🙂  


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A signature chocolate truffle ending at Vask.


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Remy Martin XO Excellence digestif to end the remarkable Ethiopian night.

(Tasting Notes: A fiery mahogany hue greets the eye while a combination of floral notes (white flowers such as jasmine and iris), fruit notes (ripe fruits of late summer such as juicy plums, ripe figs, candied oranges) and oak notes (freshly grated cinnamon and hazelnuts) fill the nose. A velvety taste, comprising of 85% Grande Champagne and 15% of Petite Champagne, makes it a heady, heavenly experience for the drinker.

The lingering taste of Remy Martin XO Excellence only serves to remind one of the essences of this passionate terroir and unique House style of Remy Martin.)


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Always fun to enjoy dinners like this with my wife, Rache and the awesome company of our foodie friends. 🙂   

Ethiopia is now in my foodie destination bucket list along with Peru and Mexico.

Ethiopian cuisine is healthy and I’m curious to learn more about Teff and the injera bread. I’m now craving for Berbere and curious on what real Mitmita spice would taste like. 

I must commend the thoughtful food and wine pairing featured in this Ethiopian dinner. Well done!


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Congratulations to Cheryl, Helina, Chef Chele, and the entire Vask Culinary Team! 


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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. 

Instagram: @cross.cultures

Facebook: CrossCulturesbyCheryltiu

Blog: www.CherylTiu.com



Live an Awesome Life,


Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: Our Eat Ethio X Cross Culture experience was courtesy of our friend Cheryl Tiu. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. I heard that the next Cross Cultures dinner (50 pax only) is on October 6. Make sure to watch out for the announcement this Thursday Sept. 24 by following @cross.cultures in Instagram and CrossCulturesbyCheryltiu in Facebook. Excited for the concept of the next Cross Cultures dinner!

The GAGGAN Experience in Manila! #GagganCrossCultures by @CherylTiu @VaskManila

5 thoughts on “A Taste of Ethiopia in Manila! #crossculturesXeatethio by @CherylTiu @VaskManila

  1. Thank you so much Anton for such a great and photogenic documentation on our Cross Cultures x Eat Ethio collaboration 🙂 We were so happy to have you and Rachelle with us! <3

  2. Some Ethiopian tastes but not very Ethiopian in service nor platting. Should have made a real Ethiopian themed meal looks more like European table. No coffee? Or Tej? Nice try but could have been much better if was more culturally accurate.

  3. When I hear Ethiopia first thing comes to mind is COFFEE….theyve got the best coffee beans in the world!

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