Traveling through the Gallery by Chele tasting menu

It was like a sort of revenge trip – except this time it was four hours. In this short time, we have, through our taste buds, toured Central Luzon and Visayas in the process through a lovingly prepared 10-course tasting menu in Gallery by Chele.

(Clockwise from top left) Cochinillo with raw mustasa leaves; burnt banana over fermented red rice; fillet of beef on mashed laing; and fried tofu with marinated shallots on insulin sheet (or sisig vegan tacos)

Appropriately called HerEATage, the tasting menu was truly a wonderful experience, with ingredients carefully selected and inspired by what is available in the country with stories to tell. Only when we have penetrated deeper into the culinary abyss of our country can we surely tell the little things that make up our food, from region to region. That said, Gallery by Chele’s research and work certainly did not disappoint.

The Hereatage 10-course tasting menu is also complemented by 3-course bites: appetizers to start, essentially prepping dinner on what’s to come in the next few hours. This initial serving provides a deeper insight into the ingredients we easily and sustainably have, teasing our mental faculties with the appropriate realization that yes, we have what we need here in this country in terms of food security and nutritional value.

Another thing I have to point out is that they cater to plant-based preferences, which makes my vegan belly scream with delight just thinking about the creative dishes they will be offering while lining up on the menu regular tasting that my husband will take.

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Subtitle: Bites

The restaurant incorporated native plants such as pancit pancitan, lato, insulin leaves in their appetizers and even made langka sweets. Their version of the sisig vegan tacos using insulin leaves is something not easily overlooked, to be honest. The citrus taste of the insulin leaves adds to the flavor that sisig is known for. Delicious!

Subtitle: Tasting menu

We know that Japanese curry uses pear or apple as a sweetener when preparing the dish, and I remember when they served the charred eggplant curry but using the local Bohol pear.

Also worth noting is their ode to Cabiao (known for his buro) – where my husband’s paternal roots come from. Their buro version used koji-fermented red rice. Their usual dish used mahi mahi while their vegan version had a burnt banana as an alternative – which really made a really good pairing.

Although we know chimichurri uses cilantro as a base, they instead used ma-lunggay to make malunggay chimichurri which they drizzle over their grilled cauliflower sitting on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes. They have also incorporated cooking techniques such as sous vide for their banana flowers and pureed laing leaves to support both beetroot (vegan) and beef tenderloin (regular). He was saying hello to Bicol in the process.

Another memorable food pairing they did was to serve cochinillio with raw mustasa leaves. This pairing works perfectly. It is also recommended to add the wine pairing for the tasting menu – they have an in-house sommelier who will give you information on pairing combinations.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience to hear the stories of how the dishes were prepared and how the localization and food methodologies were beautifully integrated into the process. Our stomachs were full and we had our culinary revenge journey in a matter of hours.


The author can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on In-stagram @kaycalpolugtu and @aplateofbahaykubo.

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