Kitchen Lab: A fresh modernist approach to local cuisine in Laoag

Tare roasted pork in uni dashi with squid ink onion chips

In the thick of editing, or rather emptying my closet for the chance of a lifetime move to Los Angeles, where my parents, siblings and a daughter reside, an invitation to Kitchen Lab arrives. Before I embark to another world, I left Monday open for the opening and VIP degustacion of 15 signature dishes. Perhaps, my last big meal that will be one of the things reminding me of home. A part of my heart says just a vacation, but my head says live another dream (we’ll go back to the move some other time).

Kitchen Lab

Kitchen Lab at The White House breaks out of the box. Speaking as a local, customarily, Eating Out in Laoag is revisiting favorite kitchens. It maybe the scruffy Dawang’s or mousy Tayamen’s or a friend’s home. But on “mucho” days, it’s something like driving out to Fort Ilocandia’s Red 8 or Bergblick in Pagudpud. Because I will eat anything, I was more eager to see what Irwin Pascual, one of the brains behind the modernist fine dining restaurant, would come up with. The only son of a Chinese couple (Pablo and Vicky) who are great cooks, he is an ardent epicure, born that way I think. He says, he is stimulated by nostalgia — like the scent of burning grass hovering around the neighborhood while growing up. A diploma in culinary arts just might injure the raw juice running in his veins. Making it more interesting, his business partner, Dr. Jonathan Noble, is also self-taught. The younger members of the creative team, however, Chef Abbygail Siy and Chef Miko Quimora, are diplomaed from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

The White HouseKitchen Lab at The White House

Kitchen Lab is the entire second floor of The White House, a head turner after all these years. There were about 30 of us at the opening. I shared a table with (Laoag Councilor) Jeff Fariñas and Charisma Ursia and photographer/blogger Marianne Pasion, who can be the best eating companions/food critics because there was never a dull moment even if the tasting got protracted.

UntitledPicture 901Irwin Pascual and wife Valerie.Chef AbbyKitchen LabWine DisplayKitchen Lab OpeningBurgos gamet butter with chorizo pepper jack roll

The food: Chorizo pepper jack roll with Burgos gamet butter, uni on a cookie, grape with blue cheese, sous vide egg with jamon Iberico, crispy and flaky indigenous mushroom with pickled salad in buttermilk, smoked Pasuquin tuna tartare in ginger and yogurt emulsion, scallop in hay aroma, two-way prawn with milk foam and tukmem (tulya) inspired by the Ilocos Norte coastline and the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, roasted pork in uni dashi with squid inked dehydrated onion chips, charcoal crust Wagyu beef in beet elements, and three desserts, namely spiced lemon sorbet, malt ice cream with toasted quinoa and goat cheese ganache and chamomile ice cream on blueberry bugnay gelee are part of the dishes they’ve created which will be available for a year. Degustacion is by appointment only, but I heard steaks, etc. is available everyday. Fresh ingredients are locally sourced while special elements are sourced abroad. Quality is never sacrificed it seems, so for a multi-sensorial food experience, the price is not ordinary. I sense a slight OC-ness in a charming, passionate kind of way.

The selection is impressive. The presentation may not be traditional, but details of home float to a degree. Take out the aesthetics, the flavors will take you to different places. I pictured California with the piece of grape with blue cheese, I was in China after that first bite of roast pork, I was reminded of childhood sick days by the perfect “malasado” egg, the juvenile cookie smeared with familiar slimy sea urchin evoke contrasting decades, the malted milkshake parallel, fleeting moments, one after the other — it is what degustacion is all about.

62°C Egg and Farm Elements

To me, the Wagyu “butcher shop mess” brought me to orgasmic proportions following the sensory buildup.  A little scorcher, the fried prawns were a bit overdone, and the cookie could have been less sweet if it were to be paired with uni for more contrast. What else? Well, the tuna tartare and 62°C egg were bitin, and I wish the lemon sorbet and the ice cream were made available everyday of the week.

Uni on a CookieAccents and ElementsKitchen LabPickled Salad in buttermilk with crispy mushroomKitchen LabSmoked Pasuquin Tuna Tartare with a dollop of ginger and yogurt emulsionJeff Farinas and IrwinNostalgia of scallop in hay aromaTwo-Way Prawncharcoal crust Wagyu beef with beet elementsMalt Ice CreamGoat cheese ganache and chamomile ice creamMigo and AbbyChefs Miko Quimora and Abby Siy and partners Irwin Pascual and Dr. Jonathan Noble in photo below. Thanks and congratulations to you, guys!Kitchen LabKitchen Lab Opening

To the one person very close to my heart during my Flickr and blogging years (and always), you make me feel ageless, hahah, fearless, and I hope to still have that photo exhibit with you one day. Love you, Marianne Gaces Pasion!

UntitledMarianne
Kitchen Lab
The White House
P. Lazaro cor. Llanes Sts., Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
For reservations contact Joel Baptista CP No.: +63 9998841701

Photos of and with author by Marianne Pasion
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

2 thoughts on “Kitchen Lab: A fresh modernist approach to local cuisine in Laoag

  1. We’re moving in opposite directions. I just gave notice today as to my last day at work and you announce that you are relocating. I wish you and your family the best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s