Chef Rob Pengson is back
Chef Rob Pengson has a new restaurant on Pasong Tamo Extension called Beso Beso Filipiniana.
It is his response to the clamor for him to go back to serving Filipino-inspired degustations.
You might remember his first signature restaurant, The Goose Station, which he co-owned with pastry chef Sunshine Puey.
This time he goes solo, with a team of inspired millennials, mostly in their 20s, who are just beginning their careers as chefs.
Pengson has a head chef, Kim Valones, who has had the privilege of staging at El Celler de Can Roca, famous for being named top restaurant in the world a few times. Pengson also has a very talented pastry chef, Rachel Chan.
The venue is on the second floor of a building just off Edsa on Pasong Tamo Extension, in a compound immediately following Alphaland. You will need to climb a staircase at the back to get to the restaurant.
Once inside though, it has a very chic meets industrial feel but with a clear effort for elegance. The artwork is eclectic. A large painting of an Igorot girl resembling Lovi Poe hangs on one end of the room while a portrait of uber cool chef Marco Pierre White but with the face of Jose Rizal by artist Jemma Asinas brings life to the wall at the other end of the room.
Chef Rob himself welcomes guests sometimes. He explains that since the space is limited (maximum 50 pax), they are willing to close down the restaurant for even just one couple.
Our party was given a tour of the new space, which is on “soft opening” until they acquire a credit card facility. It has a private dining room good for around eight persons, and two bigger areas that can fit in around 20.
The entire space works as a school during the daytime: Aleanza. They offer certificate courses in entrepreneurship and leadership, among others.
Pengson considers himself an educator as well as a chef, noting that he started out as a culinary instructor before becoming a celebrity chef. He considers teaching his “service to humanity” (his words).
This time, his passion is in instilling a culture of excellence in his team; a commitment to elevating Filipino food by sheer dedication to the craft, the way the Japanese devote themselves to food.
“A sushi is just rice and raw fish, if you think about it, but why is the world so enamored by it? It’s because of the reverence that the Japanese put into creating this simple dish. That’s what I want my team to imbibe,” Pengson explains.
Work in progress
At Beso Beso, he serves Filipino food but with his own unique touch. The lumpia is simple but executed impeccably. The sea bass was cooked well, made flavorful with miso butter and a sea urchin sauce.
Some dishes, he says, are a work in progress, such as the adobo paella.
Pengson explains he uses Japanese rice for his paella, which also utilizes a sticky dark sauce made from Davao cacao. To cook the rice, he makes use of stock that incorporates three kinds of vinegar. They are still studying how long they should age the vinegar.
I would have loved this with the next course: Wagyu rib eye with a side of oxtail paksiw.
An outstanding course is the empanada. Chef Rob stuffs the empanada with foie gras and apple gelee then tops it with unagi and caramelized apple. This was the winning dish for me. In fact. I would buy a box of this.
The menu ends on a high note with a beautifully executed dessert of chocolate mousse infused with Don Papa rum and kapeng barako, undertones of salabat (ginger tea) and caramelized pili nuts on top.
The tasting course at the moment is only eight courses, but chef Rob plans to expand this to 16. He also offers a “salo-salo” menu for those who want bigger portions.
It’s a very promising restaurant. Once Pengson gets his credit card facility done and hits his stride, he may be back in the fine dining game again, hopefully this time for good, leading the next generation as they redefine Filipino food.
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