This is how two of Asia's best chefs do lunch
Foie gras jelly, elevated ukoy and more from Andre Chiang and Chele Gonzalez
(SPOT.ph) With Chef Andre Chiang’s visit to Manila, culinary enthusiasts could skip booking a ticket to Singapore to experience Restaurant Andre, named by the New York Times as one of “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride”—and ranked No. 3 on S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
“I don’t cook in a complicated way, it’s all quite straightforward,” Chef Andre tells us over his cooking demo at Gallery VASK, where he and two of his sous chefs were hosted by Chef Chele Gonzalez for a series of events over the weekend. Chef Andre is on tour to promote his new book, Octaphilosophy: The Eight Elements of Restaurant Andre, published by Phaidon (P2,999, available at Fully Booked).
Featuring alternating courses with Chef Chele, the six-course lunch gave us a glimpse of the best by Gallery VASK and introduced us to Chiang’s singular perspective on food.
Chef Chele presented an elevated take on two Filipino snack staples: banana cue filled with foie gras mousse, and ukoy, shrimp crackers with smoked small shrimps.
Seaweed and Abalone
Chef Andre treated us to two dishes off the official lunch menu. First was the seaweed and abalone, a variation of which is served as a Salt dish at Restaurant Andre.
Next up was Chef Chele’s tiradito: yellow fin tuna, kinilaw, and pickled arosep.
Surf & Turf
The Surf & Turf by Chef Andre: Bretagne blue lobster, truffle remoulade, and celery salad topped with Russian caviar and marigold flowers. The buttermilk poured over blended well with the celery puree.
Another Salt dish also served at Restaurant Andre is a confit of Surumi squid and kelp jus over silky whipped potatoes, topped with rice souffle that has a similar texture to dry rice krispies. Chef Andre notes that serving this seafood in particular can be tricky, and shares his technique to a perfectly cooked squid: “For me, the best temperature to cook the squid is the same as when the butter starts to melt.”
At this point, we’re surprised with a little treat from Chef Andre: a Memory dish he dreamed up in 1997. This wasn’t on the menu, so we were delighted. In Octaphilosophy, he defines his Memory dish as “a timeless dish,” and this one, a warm foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis and perigord, is pretty unforgettable.
Chef Chele’s sour ribs, a tasty cut of fall-off-the-bone, tender slow-cooked Wagyu beef, onions, grilled garlic casein, and talinum, acquires an endearingly familiar flavor with a light but satisfying drizzle of soyamansi. The dish was shown off at Madrid Fusion Manila earlier this year.
The finale is what Chef Andre calls a pre-dessert, the Sweet & Savory. Not to be confused with a dessert before another dessert, he explains that this mushroom ice cream with rice krispies, milk skin, and golden porcini chips should serve as “a transition from savory to sweet.”
Without using an overwhelming number of elements, this last dish demonstrates the point of Chef Andre’s cooking: an earnest respect for ingredients and technique, paired with a heady dose of creativity.
Photos by Manica Tiglao