The other night, I was invited to a Zomato foodie meetup at Vask Modern Tapas and Gastronomic Cuisine. It is located at the Clipp Center along 11th Avenue in Taguig, in what I call the “other side” of BGC. It’s on the other side of 32nd St from where all the usual BGC haunts are.
Vask Modern Tapas and Gastronomic Cuisine serves modern and traditional Basque-inspired food, with some hints of molecular gastronomy. The culinary hand behind Vask is Chef J. Luis Gonzales, however, he was not available last night, and the kitchen was left in the capable hands of their chef de partie.
I was intrigued. I have been interested in Basques ever since I first heard of the Basque separatists when I saw the The Jackal, the Richard Gere movie with the badass Basque ex-girlfriend – their language is unique (Euskera is not related to any Indo-European language!), and their origins are mysterious, so, of course I took the opportunity to try Basque food!
There are also other areas at Vask – there is a fine dining area, a deck, etc… we stayed at the more casual, and more popular, tapas bar.
This is one part of the deck:
Vask has a modern menu and a traditional menu. The modern menu features lighter and more refined versions of traditional dishes, while the traditional menu’s dishes use old-school recipes, some dating from the 13th century!
This Foie Gras on Mango Toast (P695) is good. It surprised me! I thought it was a whole piece of fois gras, and I was wondering how they got it shaped so uniformly, but when I ate it, I realized that it was a foie gras mousse! It was creamy and buttery and did not have any strong “liver” taste at all. It contrasted very well with the sweet, slightly tart, floral mango.
Carpaccio de Wagyu con Helado de Parmesano (Australian Mayura Wagyu Carpaccio with Parmesan Ice Cream, P495) – I also liked this, but felt that it needed something more than the creamy parmesan ice cream to contrast with the fatty, marbled wagyu.
Pulpo a la Gallega (Octopus cooked 3 ways, P495) – this one had a spectacular entrance! It was served covered. When the cover was lifted, white smoke billowed out, and made the whole dish seem kind of special! The fried octopus was wonderfully briny and chewy (in a good way), and reminded me of my favorite octopus snacks as a kid. The mashed potato was incredibly smooth, really smooth. I wasn’t able to get any of the topping, so I don’t know what it was.
Atun Crujiente con Foie Gras y Cebolla Caramelizada (P695) – this is crispy tuna with some foie gras and caramelized onions. The tuna is “crispy” because it is wrapped in some sort of fried noodle. Eat the whole thing (with some of the onions) in one bite! The crunch of the crispy noodles add texture, the tuna is still pink and soft, and the caramelized onions gives everything some earthy sweetness.
Manitas y Callos a la Bizkaina con Chorizo y Jamon (P390) – this is callos with pork knuckles, tripe, chorizo and ham, served with some rustic bread. Some of my dining companions really liked this. It wasn’t too tomato-ey. I liked the tripe, it was good, but I wasn’t too into the pork knuckles… and I wanted a stronger spice flavor, just personal preference.
Scallops and Black Ink Risotto (P650) – this was my favorite dish of the night! Normally, I avoid squid ink anything because just a few bites of it is too rich for me (nakakaumay). But I don’t know what Vask did to this black ink risotto! It is delicious! Not fishy and not too garlicky. I can eat the entire thing, seriously! The squid ink sauce is tempered by a lot of Parmesan, and it tastes delish! It’s not something you appreciate in one bite, but it grows on you…
Tomate Relleno sobre Risotto de Semola de Setas (P495) – this is stuffed tomato on a bed of orzo (those rice-shaped things are pasta). The tomato is stuffed with some onions, shrimp and bacon. This was also delicious, but the taste is on the lighter side.
For dessert, we had the Torrija (P210) – a brioche soaked in milk and anise ice cream. I really liked this. The brioche is so soft – it soaked up all the anise-flavored syrup but doesn’t disintegrate! The anise flavor is strong, but then I like weird-flavored desserts.
We were also served the Tarta de Calamansi Deconstruida (P250) – the calamansi ice cream is really good! It is wonderfully tart, but still creamy. I’ve only usually had calamansi as sorbet, but not as a cream, so this was a welcome experience.
The food is creative and inventive – as close to a molecular gastronomic treat as we mere mortals would probably get here in Manila. It’s a place to go to if you want to some tapas and a little bit of molecular gastronomy. It is definitely different from regular food – something you’d remember – a good place to go to if you want to impress someone. I also heard Manila’s who’s who frequent this place.
It is not a place to go to if you are very hungry, because these are tapas – meant to be eaten as appetizers / snacks, to encourage conversation, and are not really meant to be a full meal.
Price-wise, it is as expected of a restaurant at this level, price range for main courses is around P500-800. Budget around P1,500 per person (appetizers, main, dessert) or more with drinks.
Overall, though, I was a bit underwhelmed. I know I should have been impressed, and I don’t know if it was because I expected too much because of all that I have heard about this place, and about the Chef. I think I was expecting to experience anime-like taste explosions… food so good that it is life-changing, hahaha.
Vask is located at the 5th floor of the Clipp Center, parking is free, however, the parking incline up is quite steep – maybe about 60 degrees if I had to guess, so keep that in mind if you think that could be a problem with your vehicle.
Vask Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine
5th Floor Clipp Center, 11th Avenue cor. 39th, Bonifacio Global City, 1634 Taguig
Contact No: 0917 806 5292
Hours: Mon-Thu: 11:30 am-12:00 am ; Fri-Sat: 11:30 am-2:00 am; Sun: 11:30 am-12:00 am
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