What happens when Asian comfort food favorite Your Local teams up with premiere cloud kitchen concept Taste & Tell? You get a first-class ticket to a food trip around the different pan-Asian street food hotspots -- all from this little corner of Esteban St.
Taste & Tell is a pandemic baby business by the four Chuateco sisters, Marika, Pamela, Mariell and Trixie. They recall experimenting with all the food trends that kept us sane during the pandemic lockdowns like dalgona coffee, burnt Basque cheesecake, ube cheese pan de sal, to name a few. But it was the sushi bake infused with now culinary director’s Pamela’s secret aburi sauce where the sisters dipped their toes into the food business. Two weeks later, they dove headfirst with Mariell’s boyfriend’s mom ordering 10 trays to give away to friends. And from that point, Taste & Tell has been wowing fans with its expanded menu of Japanese dishes made from premium ingredients directly imported from abroad.
Your Local has been a go-to restaurant in chic Legaspi Village since it opened. Currently under the culinary stewardship of chef Patrick Go, it remains a favorite as the food remains true to its edgy innovative take on modern Asian comfort food. The old favorites, particularly the Peranakan specialties, are still on the menu.
The Chuateco sisters do have a dream of opening an actual restaurant someday to meet their customers face to face. This team-up is a step in the right direction. Go noted that the offerings of both collaborators do intersect at some point with the Japanese donburi and aburi entrees making it very easy to get on the same kitchen wavelength and work together.
Here’s what to expect:
A gin with lychee cocktail welcomes guests as they settle into their seats. There are two other cocktails included with the dinner: a Whisky Mojito with a bit of ginger, and The Whisky Masala, a variation of the Old Fashioned with a bit of Garam Masala. Both are a tad on the sweet side, although sips of the cocktail do tame the strong flavors in the dishes where they’re paired.
A proper amuse bouche is meant to give a preview of the entire meal all in one bite. The meal goes off to a spectacular start as this chashu with truffle on a delicate piece of crispy fried rice paper gives a taste of the unusual flavors and interplay of textures to come.
The Chuatecos are sure proud of their ingredients, showing off hamachi that was fresh off the plane from Japan that very morning. Sauced with miso and topped with fried onion strings, this was a sweet and savory first course.
Some of the courses were the work of both collaborators. Think of an open-faced unagi sandwich where each bite gives a crunch from the crispy mantou, the buttery unagi, and three unique flavors of green onion, gari, and pickles. No chopsticks needed here.
On the spotlight in the fourth course was melt-in-your-mouth Norwegian salmon lightly seared with a splash of sake. Topping this with bits of salmon chicharron added another texture to this already lovely dish.
Think of traditional maki but with torched bacon-thin Kitayama beef as the wrapping given a bit of heat with wasabi and sriracha. Eat the one topped with foie gras first, then take the one with a crispy bit of garlic. The guys in the kitchen sure love adding that crunch, this time from the beef’s thin blackened edges, to their dishes, and made this maki such a pleasure to bite into.
The staff took out the chopsticks and replaced it with a spoon for the next course. This is tuna tartare with lotus root and pomelo. Spoon some of this on the crunchy papadum to get the most of this course. The flavors are a bit subtle.
This is congee similar to the ones served for breakfast in Taiwanese teahouses where the congee itself doesn’t have any flavor. It’s up to the toppings to liven things up. Go uses shredded Singaporean chili blue crab and mantou croutons to make this humble dish zing.
The main course was steak course cooked perfectly medium rare given a sweet spin with Gula Melaka sauce. While the steak is nice on its own, have this with some of the laksa puree to have the sweet, the savory, and the slight spice all in one bite.
Dessert chef Sonny Mariano’s multi-component dessert is sure to wow guests and. Macha cheesecake with vanilla ice cream, a pistachio crisp, and soy sauce caramel, this being a really smart reinterpretation of salted caramel with a bit of umami added to it’s sweet-salty flavor profile.
This dinner is one of the first high-profile collaborations between an established restaurant and a cloud kitchen. With both Your Local and Taste & Tell having devoted followings of their own, seats for the March 31 and April 1 dinner were sold out almost immediately as they were put on sale. They opened two more nights on April 7 and 8, but those were quickly snapped up too.
Here’s hoping they extend this joint dinner for a couple of nights more, and perhaps inspire similar collaborations in the near future from other established names in the restaurant industry and the cloud.