Vatos proves that fusion cuisine tastes great when it’s done right
Vatos Urban Tacos in Manila, the Korean-Mexican venture of Sid Kim, Kenny Park and Juweon Jonathan Kim, proves that fusion cuisine tastes great when it’s done right. All three were exposed to both cuisines from a young age, so Kor-Mex isn’t a random coupling — Mexican food was a staple of Kenny’s childhood in California, while Sid’s first job as a 14-year-old was at a Mexican restaurant. Aside from samgyupsal (grilled pork belly) tacos and Korean fried chicken spiked with Mexican liquor, their Chorizo Kimchi Rice is a must-try. vatosph.com
Riff on mom’s cooking. Every Korean mom has her own kimchi fried rice recipe. Sid’s mom adds shredded carrots for texture and Spam for protein and taste. Now, Kim gives it his own spin to keep up with the Kor-Mex theme.
Another layer of umami. The extra fermentation time means the kimchi develops more umami compounds. It’s then sautéed to add another layer of flavor without adding extra salt to the dish.
The Mexican connection. “I thought chorizo would be perfect because it’s a great Mexican breakfast meat that’s spicy and salty, so would go well with rice,” says Sid. He also adds cilantro to the mix for an extra layer of Mexican flavor.
Foreign yet familiar. During his months-long stay in the Philippines, Sid noticed that Filipinos often ate rice and cured pork for breakfast. He thought this rice bowl would be a Korean-Mexican version of a local favorite.
. . .
Whether you want authentic Mexican food or a more creative take, these restaurants have you covered:
Lo De Alberto. Mexican Balam Nazar heads the kitchen of this taqueria, making sure every dish coming out of Lo De Alberto tastes like it does back home. Grab a Taquiza (platter of six tacos) to share, or not — they won’t judge you. fb.com/lodealbertoph
La Chinesca. Chef Bruce Ricketts puts his spin on Mexican dishes and drinks for La Chinesca. For example, he adds pinipig (pounded glutinous rice flakes) to the guisada de res tacos, and combines cucumber, aloe vera and gin in the La Fresa. fb.com/lachinesca
Chihuahua Mexican Grill. Having lived in Texas, Chihuahua co-owner Elian Habayeb knows Tex-Mex very well. Treat yourself to stuffed-to-the-gills steak burritos or grab a bowl of chili to warm the belly — and maybe join the salsa dancing after eating. chihuahua.ph