Claude Tayag: Portrait of the Chef as Artist

Claude Tayag never ceases to amaze me as he not only dabbles but shines in the various endeavors he pours his heart and soul into – whether it be the culinary arts or the visual arts.

The other side of Claude Tayag: The chef exhibits his watercolor paintings at the National Museum

Bale Dutung

We know him as a chef and culinary icon, with his relentless promotion of Pampango and Philippine cuisine.

The name of his private dining space is Bale Dutung. If you have not yet been to this culinary treasure, make your way to the Tayags’ home in Angeles, Pampanga (visit baledutung.com for details). It’s is by reservation only as guests experience the culinary traditions of the Pampangeños, as interpreted by Tayag, made extraordinary with the charming touch of his wife Maryann Quioc. You may opt for an all-Pampango menu or an all-lechon menu. It was in fact at Tayag’s home that Anthony Bourdain experienced and fell in love sisig, after which the culinary legend said that sisig would “win the hearts and minds of the world”. (To honor Bourdain, Bale Dutung now also offers an Anthony Bourdain menu.)

Claude Tayag’s wife Maryann Quioc poses before 1956 portrait of the artist of himself being carried by his mother.

The Influence of E. Aguilar Cruz

But the chef’s hat is only one of his many hats. In fact, Claude Tayag was first recognized for his paintings, not for his cooking.

It was over 40 years ago, in 1977, that he was first acknowledged as a painter, when he won second prize at the annual competition of the Art Association of the Philippines, for an acrylic on canvas painting depicting the frenzied Ati-tihan festival from an elevated view. A year later, in 1978, he made his official debut into the Manila art scene with a one-man exhibition of watercolor paintings at the ABC Galleries of Larry J. Cruz, son of the great Emilio “Abe” Aguilar Cruz, in Manila. The exhibit was well-received, with critics describing Tayag’s works as “characterized by a forceful spontaneity and raw vigor”.

Abè (father of Larry) was Tayag’s greatest influence and mentor. Cruz was the bosom buddy of Tayag’s father, Renato “Katoks” Dayrit Tayag, a lawyer turned journalist. They used to call Abe “Tatang Milio”. Tayag very clearly remembers when Abe invited his artist friends over to paint the landscape of the Zambales ranges (now Carmenville Subdivision). Tayag holds dear a photo taken by his father of that moment, in 1968, with the 12-year old Claude watching the painters intently. It was quite a group: Sofronio ‘SYM’ Mendoza, Romulo Galicano, Rodolfo Ragodon, Andres Cristobal Cruz, Mauro ‘Malang’ Santos, and the future National Artist Vicente Manansala. Tayag remembers that it was then that he found his own calling, thinking, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!”

Tayag also recalls his visits to Abe in 1976: “I was a third year Architecture student at the University of the Philippines but I would visit Tatang Milio in his painting studio on Arquiza Street, just off the tourist belt area along A. Mabini in Manila. I’d show him my latest watercolor paintings then he would critique them, and would demonstrate with paint sketches a trick or two.”

Tayag also remembers joining Cruz for the “Sketching Soiree” of the Saturday Artists’ Group – an informal association of professionals with a common passion for making art, led by Cesar Legazpi, then an executive of an advertising agency, and with members such as Alfredo “Ding” Roces, and artists who later became recognized as National Artists, such as Vicente Manansala, H.R. Ocampo, Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, Arturo Luz, Bencab (Benedicto Cabrera) and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.

Sketching Soiree by Claude Tayag. September 11, 1976.

Tayag was also influenced by the “Dimasalang group” comprised of Cruz and 3 friends, SYM, Galicano, and Andres Cristobal. “It was their watercolor paintings that I tried to emulate, in terms of style and subject matter,” Tayag recalls.

Inspired by these great artists, Tayag pursued watercolor as a medium, hoping to increase appreciation for this medium as well. “Watercolor is the most difficult painting medium there is,” the artist explains. “One has to have full control of the water, color, paper and timing. And this could only be achieved through a lifetime dedication of practice and exploration. For me, it is the most rewarding and most pleasurable to work with once you’ve mastered it.”

Watercolor and Wood

In the decade following his first exhibit, Tayag was very prolific, holding an exhibit every two years, with each exhibit focusing on a different subject. Among his exhibits were a European watercolor travelogue in 1980, inspired by his 11-month tour of Europe; Moriones in 1981; Cordillera landscapes in 1985 at the Hyatt Terraces in Baguio, after living in Baguio for a while; Kristos in 1987; and a black and white exhibition using Japanese ink on rice paper called the Bokuseki series, influenced by the Japanese style of painting called Sumi-e, in 1994 and 1997.

Sunset in the Clouds, 1979, Claude Tayag.

Later, Tayag also became known as a sculptor. He started by designing and manufacturing traditional Filipino domestic furniture (e.g la mesa, upuan, taburete, bangkô, paminggalan), which he consigned to the Pansol Pottery owned by potters Jon and Tessie Pettyjohn in Makati. He became known for his creations that had “straightforward functionality and clean lines, much like the Japanese and Shaker furniture”, with “no-nail construction, using mostly dove-tailing and mortise-and-tenon techniques”. In 1990, he staged his first one-man exhibition as a sculptor at the Ayala Museum, presenting both functional and sculptural creations in wood. He awed audiences with his ability to “supercede the limitations of an essentially rigid material, achieving limitless volume and sensuous plasticity with this wave and curvilinear series”.

Chef Claude

In the 1980s, Tayag started dabbling in cooking. The ingenious Larry Cruz, then owner of Ang Hang restaurant in Makati, challenged Tayag to interpret his watercolor paintings as “edible art”. I guess a Capampangan does not back down from a challenge, especially one related to cooking, so Tayag executed a clever dinner entitled “Artworks” in 1989. So just as Cruz had given Tayag his first exhibit in 1978, it was also Cruz who gave Tayag his first culinary “exhibit” in 1989!

It must have been a hit as a few years later, in 1993, Tayag was featured as the guest chef of the hoity toity Chaine des Rotisseurs at their annual dinner held at the Manila Hotel. He cooked traditional Pampango cuisine.

In 2001, he was invited to be guest chef for an entire month at the famous fine dining restaurant Prince Albert of the Intercontinental Hotel, the first Asian chef ever to be invited, cooking alongside their French chef Cyrille Soenen.

Since then, Tayag has become a favorite in the culinary scene. Aside from his private dining space Bale Dutung, which he opened with wife Maryann in the 2000s, he has also hosted a television show on food, and has published three food-related books: Food Tour, Linamnam, and Kulinarya (with co-authors). He also made the country proud when he won the People’s Choice Award at the Embassy Chef Challenge in Washington, D.C. in May 2016.

National Museum

But once an artist, you are always an artist. So when Dr. Ana Labrador, assistant director of the National Museum, saw Tayag at the Emilio “Abé” Aguilar Cruz Hall opening three years ago and suggested that he do an exhibition of his watercolor paintings with them, being a direct “offspring” of Abé as a watercolorist, he immediately said yes.

So until until September 22, the National Museum presents “Claude Tayag: Watercolors 1974 – Present”.

T’bloi Women by Claude Tayag.
My favorite among Claude’s works: “Kain Na!” A T’boli woman enticing you to eat.

Here you will see the other side of the “chef”: that of visual artist, featuring his watercolor paintings of T’boli women, paintings from the Moriones series, the Kristo series, the Cordillera series, paintings of churches and images of Catholic saints, postcards with art from his travels, and a throwback to the Bokuseki series.

I love the energy that flows from each work of art – from the vibrant colors to the details that communicate life. It is a beautiful exhibition that mirrors the artist’s inspired journeys.

I encourage everyone to visit this exhibit. It is one that his mentors and even his father, who discouraged him from pursuing fine arts, would undoubtedly be proud of. Claude Tayag, like his mentor E. Aguilar Cruz, is truly a Renaissance man!

Claude Tayag: Watercolors 1974 – Present
At the National Museum
Until September 22, 2019

***

Other opening highlights:

Me and my sister Goldee, fans of Claude, getting our book of watercolor paintings by Claude Tayag autographed by the artist at the exhibition opening.
Also love Claude’s church series. This is a painting from 1979 of the Nuremberg Cathedral.
Also love his series on Catholic images or what we call “Poon”.
Claude Tayag greeted by fellow chefs Myrna Segismundo (checkered, beside Claude) and Glenda Barretto of Via Mare (blue)
Checking out Claude Tayag’s Bokuseki series with Manila tour guide Ivan Man Dy
The exhibit opening was a resounding success. It was a nice touch too that there was food from Pampanga brought by the chef. We all loved the tibok tibok (carabao milk pudding)
Never a dull moment with Goldee!! Playing tourist with Claude’s Moriones series. This is based on an actual painting (see first photo with the artist).

Congratulations, Claude!!!

Everybody’s Cafe & Susie’s in Angeles, Pampanga

Everybody's Cafe, Angeles, Pampanga. Photo by Margaux Salcedo

Here’s Part 3 of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Part 1: Cafe Fleur
Part 2: Downtown Cafe

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Everybody’s Cafe

Everybody’s Cafe Angeles is the little sister of Everybody’s Cafe San Fernando. But for those who want a taste of classic Capampangan cuisine, this is THE restaurant.

Food is served cafeteria or “turo-turo” (turo means ‘point’) style but the menu is exactly what would likely be served in a true Capampangan home.
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Be brave and try the Betute—stuffed frogs legs. So beautifully savory you will forget you are eating frog. The morcon is another must-try, another fine example of how Capampangans are masters in the umami of the ulam.

Susie’s


Before heading home, make a pit stop at Susie’s. This is another cafeteria-like place perfect for merienda. If you have time, sit down and have the pancit. Otherwise, take home a bottle of Susie’s Taba ng Talangka (ask for the female crab fat) but make sure to eat in moderation.

Also try or take home their mochi-mochi and sapin-sapin.

The following day I wanted to eat healthy so instead of cooking the female crab fat with rice I cooked New Zealand Akaroa salmon in it. Good – but still better with rice! hah!


Holy Rosary

In between restaurants, say a quick prayer at the Holy Rosary Parish Church. Thank the Lord for the blessings of such delicious food just 2½ hours away from Manila and pray that you don’t gain too much weight after all that bingeing!

Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit cafefleur.ph.

1956 Downtown Cafe by Bale Dutung. 1 Plaridel St., Nepo Quad, Angeles City. 0917-5359198. More info at baledutung.com.

Everybody’s Cafe. Nepo Mart, Angeles City. Everybody’s has a stall at the Salcedo Market in Salcedo Village every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Susie’s. Hilda St. Nepo Mart Commercial Complex, 2009 Angeles City, Philippines

More from the author at margauxsalcedo.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Email margauxsalcedo@yahoo.com.

Downtown Cafe: Pinoy ’50s Diner in Pampanga

Downtown Cafe, Angeles, Pampanga

Here’s Part 2 of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Part 1 here: Sau del Rosario’s Cafe Fleur

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Downtown Cafe

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Claude Tayag is another famous Capampangan celebrity chef, or as he was called at the Mission Manila dinner during Madrid Fusion, El Kusinero.

He is better known for Bale Dutung, his home, showroom and private dining space with his lovely Capampangan wife Mary Ann Quioc. This is the place No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain visited and loved—a place that is ironically by reservation only and for a minimum guest list of around 12.

Thankfully, the Tayags have opened Downtown Cafe. While it is by no means Bale Dutung, which is an incomparable experience, Downtown has a charm of its own, with its diner vibe complete with jukebox and a Coke ad with the stunning Gloria Romero. The big bonus, of course, is that we can now get a taste of Claude Tayag’s cooking every day.

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Best on the menu is the duck. In classic Claude Tayag humor, the menu reads “What’s Up, Duck?” The duck leg confit is salted and slow-cooked for two hours; you eat it Peking Duck-style, with wrappers.

The star of the menu of late, though, is the bringhe, which won the the People’s Choice Award at the 8th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge in Washington D.C. last May.

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The waiters call it bringhe pizza; it felt like a morphing of bibingka galapong and paella. It’s a fun, unique snack.

On a rainy day, have a cup of their barako. Really Filipino and really good coffee. I bet coffee guru Chit Juan would approve.

PS Really loved the interiors. Look – Royal Tru Orange before “Joey”/RJ Ledesma …
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Our friend Dr Jill Tabora also had this super refreshing dessert:
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I was too stuffed from eating so much at Cafe Fleur, Everybody’s Cafe and Susie’s that I could really only eat this:
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But we were excited to dance to the music from the jukebox … or maybe from our minds – naloka na sa busog haha. (The jukebox doesn’t really work.)

Thanks so much to our #LafangMD friends for a great time!!! Isser and Pau, thanks for being such wonderful tour guides! Mabuhay ang Angeles!!1956 Downtown Cafe by Bale Dutung. 1 Plaridel St., Nepo Quad, Angeles City. 0917-5359198. More info at baledutung.com.

Part 1: Cafe Fleur
Part 2 of 3

Mission: Claude Tayag at the Raffles Makati

Mission Manila presents Claude Tayag for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers
Monique Today of Raffles and Fairmont Makati with World's 50 Best No. 1 Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain
Raffles & Fairmont Makati Hotel Director of Communications Monique Toda with World’s 50 Best reigning No. 1 Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, Spain

It all began out of a desire to make World’s 50 Best No. 1 Chef Joan Roca and the other speaker-chefs at Madrid Fusion Manila experience a real Filipino dinner because there was no Filipino chef lined up in the parallel dinners to the Madrid Fusion Manila congress.

Roca flew out on the last day of the Congress and missed this but I think something bigger came of it —

Mission: Manila, long-term project to promote Philippine cuisine and Filipino chefs.

April 9, 2016. Mission: Manila was launched in cooperation with Raffles & Fairmont Makati with Claude Tayag as the first featured chef.
Mission Manila, MissionManila, Claude Tayag, Madrid Fusion, Madrid Fusion Manila, Margaux Salcedo

Claude Tayag, genius that he is, and with the generosity of Raffles & Fairmont Makati HotelAlex Ong and Rey Lee of Artisan Cellar Wines, and Olive and Aaron Limpe-Aw of Destileria Limtuaco, put together this TEN-course dinner in just 5 days! He asked me to confirm if we would push through with the dinner Sunday; I messaged back “Game!” on Monday. And the dinner was held five days later on Saturday!!

Mission Manila presents Claude Tayag for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers
El Kusinero Claude Tayag with his team and the “kusineros” of Raffles & Fairmont Makati Hotel.

I have known Claude for over ten years now and I trusted whatever menu he would have come up with but this one really blew me away. Here’s what he served:

Pakwan Two Three.
Red and yellow watermelon, kesong puti, glazed pili nuts, honey-mansi vinaigrette.
Paired with Ruggeri Prosecco Argeo
This dish had us at hello. Claude skipped the amuse bouche-ing. He went straight to this delightful salad with no greens whatsoever. He also emphasised that for this dinner, ALL his ingredients were local. As can be seen with the carabao cheese, Pili nuts and calamansi with honey vinaigrette.
Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presents Claude Tayag for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers

Sisig Terrine.
Paired with Ruggeri Prosecco Argeo
He called it “sisig” yet this was not at all like sisig as we know it. Instead, Claude took the idea of using a pig’s head, specifically the jowl, and instead made it into a refreshing appetizer paired with cucumber strings. I freaked out a little bit when I saw the slither of fat but Claude winked, emphasising that it’s not THAT kind of fat so you CAN eat it whole. This totally reminded me of the cuisine of Lyon, which also likes to utilize every part of the pig!

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Guava Gazpacho.
Chilled Pampango guava soup served with ulang (freshwater prawn).
Paired with Luis Canas Blanco Joven
This was my favourite dish of the night. I’m a huge fan of guava – totally love sinigang sa bayabas. And a whiff of the guava “cold soup” here turned heads as the waiters entered carrying our bowls. Claude made the soup much thicker than usual. As for the ulang, I really think we need to promote this more – it is such a delightful, meaty viand!

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Tuyom Rice Balls.
Guso seaweeds, cherry tomatoes, KBL dressing spiked with rum cooked Tausug-style in a sea urchin shell.
Paired with Luis Canas Blanco Joven
This was another favorite. First of all, who doesn’t love uni? Secondly, I loved how Claude presented it as a “ball” – actually, he made little cups out of indigenous rice – that you get the full benefit of a mouthful. He was inspired by how the Tausugs of Mindanao cook their uni – in the sea urchin shell itself. I think of all this dishes, this is the one that has representation from all three island groups – Luzon for the KBL sauce, a very popular Ilokano sauce with tomatoes, shrimp paste or shrimp sauce and sliced onions; Visayas through the guso seaweeds; and Mindanao with the sea urchin and the way it was prepared.

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Fish-charon.
Crispy tilapia skin with Pampango burong hipon and fresh mustard leaves.
Paired with Langmell Spring Fever Chardonnay
This was Claude’s tribute to his home province of Pampanga. He explained that because Pampanga has no surrounding waters, they would usually use freshwater fish in their dishes. Hence, the ulang and the tilapia. And in Pampanga, they like to use mustasa or mustard leaves and wrap the fermented rice in it with the fish. Here he made the tilapia skin extra crunchy, like another specialty of the region: chicharon.

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Tres Dilis-cias. 
Fresh anchovy fillets three-ways: kinilaw, fried adobado, salted sun-dried with alto seaweed.
Paired with Selbach Oster Kabinett Bernkasteler Kurtfurstlay Riesling
Claude’s humor really cracks me up – it actually carbon dates him because the play-on-words humor is so seventies LOL. First “Pakwan two three” and now “Dilis-cias” -bwahaha! Anyway, this dish I think we could have had while enjoying generous pours of cocktails with Manille liqueur generously sponsored by Destileria Lituaco. These yummy bite-sized slivers of fish would have been perfect for that!

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Talangka Bringhe. 
Pampango fiesta rice medallions, taba ng talangka, crisp fried crablets.
Paired with Langmell Spring Fever Chardonnay
This was another winner. When I bit into it (without reading the menu), at first I was surprised by the kick of umami. Lo and behold, upon checking, there was a spread of crab fat on top of the bring he!

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Pork Choplet Adobo Confit.
Paired with Langmell Steadfast Shiraz
Sure there were pork chops and these were yummy but the highlight of this dish for me was the dinardaraan/dinuguan that it was paired with. We are the only country that makes a thick stew out of pig’s blood. In Europe they have blood sausage which is a delicacy that people love even in gourmet capitals such as Lyon. But here we make a stew out of the blood. Claude specifically used the version of the Ilokanos where the meat that is used is made crispy. It was a great way to appreciate dinuguan without shocking foreign guests.

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Pata-Patita Mole.
Traditional Pampango tomato-based pig trotters stew with Guagua smoked lingginita at ginseng patani.
Paired with Langmell Steadfast Shiraz
Another hearty dish and tribute to Pampanga. Aside from the pig trotters, Claude used longganisa from Guagua, which are small in size so he calls them “longganitas”. He explained that some appreciate it like a sandwich so he also served pandesal with it.
Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Sorpresa de Yema.
Paired with Selbach Oster Kabinett Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay Riesling
The menu sub-heading was: “Almusal na Tocilog na pang matamis?”
So we thought he was serving Tocino del Cielo or heavenly custard. But no! Presenting the quintessential Filipino breakfast, Claude literally served a slither of tocino, dried it, then coated it in a Nana Meng Tsokolate dip. And placed it atop a hardened yolk that was resting on top of a meringue. How creative!

Mission Manila by Margaux Salcedo presented Claude Tayag at the Raffles and Fairmont Makati for a Madrid Fusion inspired dinner for Kidapawan farmers.

Seating for this dinner was limited to just 16 because Claude wanted it to be really intimate, allowing him to give a talk on the anthropological background of each dish that he served. It almost felt like a Madrid Fusion talk as each of the ten courses was bussed out. It was truly an evening where the education on Filipino food matched the deliciousness of each dish.

Mission accomplished!

Mission Manila, MissionManila, Claude Tayag, Madrid Fusion, Madrid Fusion Manila, Raffles Fairmont Makati
Many thanks to those who made the mission possible: Raffles & Fairmont Makati’s David Batchelor (seated, right) and Monique Toda (seated, third from left); Artisan Wine Cellar’s Alex Ong and Rey Lee (seated, first and second from left); and Destileria Lituaco’s Olive Limpe Aw and son Aaron (seated, second from right).

Watch out for the next Mission: Manila … Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

Moonysan on Pasay Road: Awesome and Accessible Japanese Food

Wagyu beef. Moonysan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.
Magallanes Church Family at Moonysan.
Magallanes 9 pm mass church family 🙂 Missing Fr. Benny Tuazon, my mom Baby Salcedo and Anton & Susan de Asis.

Our church family always eats out after the 9pm mass in Magallanes on Sundays. We’re always looking for a resto that will stay open til at least midnight.

Last month, we were always at Mitsuyado for the ramens and gyoza but come 11:30, they make a last call for orders and by midnight the waitresses are just all sitting at a table, as if to tell us Hello! Tama na please uwi na kami!  We also used to frequent Cafe Breton in Magallanes for the pizza (love their pizza) but they stopped serving the pizza – something to do with the exhaust affecting the neighboring restaurant – so we became resto nomads after that. 😦

Sandy Daza

Thank God for Sandy Daza (check out his tv show Foodprints HERE). He introduced me a few months ago to Moony-san on Pasay Road. Got to try this resto for the first time with food writers I look up to.

With Moonysan (standing) and (left) Micky Fenix, Maricris Encarnacion and Nina Daza Puyat + (right) Mary Ann Quioc (aka Claude Tayag's Darleng), Sandy Daza and Claude Tayag
With Moonysan (standing) and (left) Micky Fenix, Maricris Encarnacion and Nina Daza Puyat + (right) Mary Ann Quioc (aka Claude Tayag’s Darleng), Sandy Daza and Claude Tayag

Foie Gras Goes Japanese

Was surprised at their foie gras dishes. On my first visit we tried this foie gras salad.

Foie gras salad. Moonysan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.On my next visit, with my church family, we were happy to try this sushi that has foie gras wrapped in a rice roll!

moonysan 6Other sushis we loved: the Dragon roll and the torched salmon sushi.

Moonysan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.com. December 2014.
Torched salmon sushi (bottom).

Imported Ingredients

Was also very impressed by their imported sashimi like the hamachi. You can really taste the difference, the quality. Was told by Tokyo regular Bella Yuchengco on Instagram: “(Moonysan) used to be called Seiji … after the Japanese chef who owned it. He is also the consultant at Mogu (they have more or less the same menu) and Wagyu Steak at Sunvar Plaza.” I remember Seiji to be oh-so-expensive, as told to me by some privileged friends. Thankfully, Moonysan is now far more accessible!

Moonysan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.com.
Moonysan Hamachi. P595.

They also have what I call, to borrow a term from the wine industry, accessible Wagyu. It’s Wagyu beef – not a very high-brow grade – but oh-so-soft nevertheless. It’s truly value for your money!

Wagyu beef at Moonysan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.com.
Affordable Wagyu! Wagyu Saikoro Steak P720.

Best of all is the attentive service. The crew is very welcoming and they won’t kick you out come midnight! We caught the Japanese manager Hiroaki “Hiro” Iwai and their Japanese chef when our church fam dined there last Sunday, making sure everything was ok.

IMG_6991.JPGOishi! 🙂

 

Moonysan.
Moony Japanese Cuisine.
G/F Cedar Executive Bldg #1006 A. Arnaiz Ave.
(Pasay Road across Raffles)
For reservations call +632 478 7550 or 568 4440
Major credit cards accepted.
Wheelchair accessible on the ground floor.
Open daily for lunch 11:00 am to 2:00 p.m.; dinner 6:00 pm to 12mn.
Walk ins welcome.