Posts Tagged ‘irbille donia’

Making its debut last night, Kraken Congee is the newest addition to Seattle’s pop-up scene – started by a trio of local chefs; Tyler Robinson and Garrett Doherty of The Ruins, and Irbille Donia of Ray’s. According to an article by the Seattle Met,  the three of them met at culinary school and since then have come together to create this new venture.


the kraken welcomes you


the essentials

The Food:


 steamed bun, beef tongue, apple fennel kimchee $8

The bun was soft and the beef tongue was clean and tender. The apple kimchee was bright with nice crunch, but I would have liked it to have had  much bolder spice and pickled flavors.


 squid ink congee, pork stuffed squid tubes, ginger, thai chilis, fried shallots, roasted peanut, cilantro $ 15

If it weren’t for the cilantro sprinkled atop, this bowl of congee looked visually… meh. Unfortunately, there isn’t any color in a cooked squid tube and the squid link ladled around, looked like a pen broke in someone‘s pant pocket. The pork stuff squid was cooked well and provided the majority of the “heft” to this bowl. The thai chilis brought a satisfying heat to my lips and the roasted peanuts provided a subtle crunch to each bite. The ginger also provided an additional layer of flavor to the bowl. Lost in the mix, were the shallots


xo congee, five spice duck confit, cracklings, bok choy, egg yolk $15

This bowl looked very appealing – more so than the squid ink congee. The bok coy was rich and green  while the bright egg yolk sat wide-eyed, asking to be opened like a gift on Christmas morning. The duck confit was seasoned well (though I’m not sure I got a full duck leg… more like ½ a leg)and the egg yolk provided a creamy richness to the bowl. The cracklings were savory and worked well with the other ingredients. I did have the unappetizing pleasure of biting into a piece of star anise that wasn’t removed… which has a flavor of black licorice.


the chefs

My Conclusion:

In terms of turnout, this pop-up was a success – it was a packed house when we entered and people were still coming in as we left. I think these three are onto something great! I also really like the idea of shining light on an Asian staple that is, congee. Growing up in a Chinese household, congee was a regular for me. I especially love the plethora ingredients and side dishes you can add to each bowl. When it comes down to it, congee is just porridge of rice and water. The things you add in it or on top of it are what give it flavor and appeal – so I have a tough time wrapping my head around are the steep prices. I place congee in the same category as pho (minus the hours spent making the broth.) They’re both satisfying on a cold day, provide big flavors, perfect for the morning after a night on the town, and cheap! … Well sorta… A $15 bowl of congee is like a $20 bowl of pho.

Read Full Post »

Here is the menu for Irbille Edible’s July Pop-Up at Olivar in Seattle. Please call for reservations.



•Papaya Salad 8

papaya, radish,  mizuna, calamansi

• Kamatis Salad 8

heirloom tomatoes, red onions, crispy silver fish, cane vinegar

 Pagkaing Dagat

• Fried Talaba 12

fried pacific oyster, coconut rice,  grilled corn

• Scallop Sipo 16

seared scallops,  peas,  wallawalla onions, mushroom puree

• Gabi 15

coconut braised taro leaves, garlic prawns,  forbidden rice


• Sisig 10

seared pork, arugula, mango

• Pork Adobo 10

braised pork belly,  leeks, garlic rice, adobo sauce

• Grilled Manok 10

grilled chicken, fava beans,  braised new potatoes, apritada sauce

• Grilled Baka 12

grilled sirloin steak, sautéed red onions, cherry tomatoes, toyomansi sauce


• HaloHalo 8

coconut granite, ube ice cream, strawberries, jackfruit, coconut cream

• Champorado 8

chocolate rice pudding, raspberry ice cream, hazelnut polvoron crumbs



10% of the dinner’s proceeds will benefit Noel House Programs.

Read Full Post »

 Just when you thought these Pop-Up’s couldn’t get any better, last nights event marked an occasion truly worth speaking of – 100% of the proceeds from last nights dinner are to be donated to Noel House Programs. For those that may not know, Noel House is the largest women’s only shelter in Seattle. Providing both permanent and temporary housing, food, resources and support for women in need, Noel House is truly a blessing for women in need. It is awesome  knowing that Irbille Edible’s partnered up with such a great organization.

The Food:

mango salad: manila mango, mizuna, watermelon radish, green mango vinaigrette

This salad was dressed wonderfully. The julienned mangos really popped against the backdrop of the mizuna and was a pleasing plate to look at. This is the second time I have mizuna (the first was at his April Pop-Up) and I can honestly say I enjoyed it! It has a more mild flavor than arugula and does well in cutting through the sweetness of the mango. One critique I have about this dish is I didn’t notice the watermelon radish – which was listed on the menu. 

roasted eggplant: baby eggplant, bell peppers, almond sauce

Cherry and I opted to lean away from our norm and order the roasted eggplant. The eggplant was roasted nicely with a good char and soft inner layer. The almond sauce added a countering sweetness almost like a peanut sauce and worked great with the eggplant! However, again, the menu stated the dish would come with bell peppers, and if my memory (and photo) serve me correct, there were none.

 steak bagoong: anchovy marinated hanger steak, purple yams, heirloom tomato

For me, this dish was the highlight of the meal. The steak was cooked perfectly with a perfect char on the outside and a tender pink in the middle. The anchovy (or bagoong) marinated stead had great flavor and really added a nice depth of flavor. Acting almost like a sweet potato mash, the purple yams added a delicious touch when combined with the tomato and steak, it was sublime.


 My Conclusion:

It is always great coming to these Pop-Up dinners,  not only to support an up-and-coming chef, but also a friend. Being able to witness Chef Irbille’s progression of his creativity, technique and plating from his first Pop-up to now, is truly something great. Learning and growth is something that is constantly the goal of any professional and despite some missing elements on our dishes, these miscues were mere hiccups in the overall dinner. Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things, the main winners are the residents  and staff at Noel House, for they are the ones who will directly benefit from this event – I was lucky enough to be apart of the ride.

Read Full Post »

It has only been a few weeks since Irbille Edible’s hosted their last pop up dinner, but this quick turn-around was a hurdle that Chef Irbille and his team passed with ease and grace.


The Food:

lumpia sariwa: pork, grilled shrimp, jicama, tom thumb lettuce,  peanut sauce

lechon pugo: rice stuffed roasted quail, caramelized chayote, ginger sauce

tagalog steak: hanger steak, spring lilies, toyo mansi sauce

turon:  lady finger bananas,  jack fruit, caramel, vanilla pearls


The Review:

The lumpia was delicious! It was presented in Vietnamese spring roll fashion – with all the ingredients wrapped in rice paper wrapper. The pork was flavorfully seasoned and had good texture from the shrimp, and crunch from jicama and the lettuce. The element that stole the show in this dish was the peanut sauce! The sauce had an impeccable balance of sweetness and savory from the peanuts and did an excellent job combining all the elements in each bite. I almost asked Chef Irbille to bottle some sauce up for me to take home!

Much to my surprise, I’ve never actually come across quail on any menu before so I figured today was an ideal time to cross that off my list. I was very pleased with this dish. My eyes were immediately drawn to the plating of the quail. It sat atop an artistically arranged medley of ginger sauce and chayote. Eating chayote was also a first for me and it was really good! They looked like apples in an apple pie but were firmer and not as sweet. Texturally, they were like cooked radish – providing a nice crunch to the tender and juicy quail meat. The rice stuffing was a perfect addition. As I cut open the quail, the rice spilled out and soaked up all the sauce and really hit home!

The steak was also prepared and presented exquisitely. Laying on a bed of spring lilies, the steak had a great char on the outside and perfect pink in the middle. Each bite was extremely tender and juicy and was complimented nicely with the toyo mansi sauce. The char on top was also a nice textural layer to each bite. I wish I had an after shot because the plate was wiped clean when we were done!

I can really appreciate Chef Irbille’s rendition of turon. Taste-wise, it had everything that reminds you of your grandma or auntie’s famous turon. Visually, welcome to 2012! I almost didn’t want to dive into this dish as in an effort to maintain the artistry of this presentation. The caramel and vanilla pearls were great accents to the jackfruit and banana. All these ingredients came together wonderfully to transport you back to thePhilippines. The surprising addition to this dish was the toasted basil. They brought a surprisingly savory twist to your bite!


My Conclusion:

These pop-ups are great events on several fronts:

  1. It will open your foodie box to new foods and flavors. I had no idea what a chayote was before this event!
  2. 2. You get to trick your brain. It takes some processing to comprehend the visually sophisticated and modern presentations with the flavors of old comfort foods.
  3. 3. You get to be apart of cultural culinary progression. Filipino food has a stigma of being one pot cooking – nothing pretty or fancy. However at these pop-ups, you will see, first hand the culinary potential of Filipino cuisine! 
  4. 4. Who doesn’t love supporting local artists/talents/businesses!? It is extremely gratifying to know your support is directly going to the source and not some third party.

In the end, this review is only my opinion, my interpretation, random words on a screen…. To truly experience what I’m writing about, or anything for matter, you just have to jump!

Read Full Post »

The culmination of our amazing Anniversary Weekend ended with the Pop-Up Dinner at Olivar on April 30th, 2012. Not only was it the exact day of our 2-year wedding anniversary, we got to spend it supporting Chef Irbille Donia of Irbille Edibles, for his second Pop-Up! If anyone is unfamiliar with the phrase, pop-up dinner, it is essentially a “kitchen take-over” by cooks/chefs that usually work under a restaurants’ executive chef. They normally take place on Mondays (when restaurants are closed) and it is an opportunity for up and coming chefs to display their talent featuring a new and original menu straight from their minds.

The Food:

papaya salad: papaya, watermelon radish, mizuna, smoked mussels, calamansi vinaigrette

kilawin: scallop ceviche,  rhubarb compote, cilantro oil

empanada: oyster mushrooms, bell peppers, banana hearts, bamboo shoots

leonor adobo: duck confit, rice , poached duck egg , grilled spring garlic, adobo sauce

mungo: painted hills flank steak, mung beans, grilled radicchio, sweet soy sauce

bibingka: casava tart, candied walnuts, coconut caramel, coconut sorbet

fruit cake: white wine cake, mango, kiwi, coconut crème anglaise


The Review:

The initial image of papaya salad, for most people, tends to be that of the Thai green papaya salad – with the papaya grated to look like noodles and tossed with bean sprouts, green onion and various types of dressing. However, Chef Irbille’s papaya salad presentation  consisted of a modern interpretation  and it was perfect. Standing alone among the myriad of color and flavor was the calamansi vinaigrette. It had the perfect blend of sour and sweet but also did not overpower the natural flavors of the fresh papaya, watermelon radish, and mizuna. I initially thought the leafy greens of the salad was arugula, mizuna has a milder spice – not as overpowering. I overheard the table behind me directly tell Chef Irbille, “This salad is the best dressed salad I’ve had in a long time… it was delicious!”

I’m a big fan of ceviche and this kilawin definitely satisfied my soul. The scallops were laid out like a set of fresh oysters – sitting atop cilantro oil with the rhubarb compote, fresh cilantro and edible flowers were also sprinkled atop. Some people cringe at the thought of raw seafood (like oysters) but I really enjoyed these scallops. The ingredients were not all diced up like a traditional South American ceviche, instead, all the ingredients were left as they are naturally and they were delicious! The scallops had a tender texture and the cilantro oil added a nice flavor depth with each bite.

Our empanadas were exactly how you’d want them; gold brown with a nice bite on the outside with savory goodness on the inside! For me personally, all the flavors blended together to provide a nice flavorful bite with the curry sauce acting a nice blanket.

 In honor of his Grandmother, Chef Irbille named our next dish after her – Leanor Adobo. Chef Irbille’s interpretation of adobo is definitely an elevated form of the traditional adobo that’s cooked in a single pot. The duck was cooked perfectly with tender meat that looked almost like a pulled-pork. There was also a single piece of duck skin that was fried just right,  adding a candy-like crunch. Bringing all these pieces together was the egg yolk and the adobo sauce. This was the first time I’ve had a poached duck egg and the yolk is considerably larger than the yolk a chicken egg. The yolk did not overpower or take away from the dish; it did a nice job holding everything together.

The flank stead over mungo beans were nicely presented. Mungo beans aren’t exactly the first I think of when I think of the word, cuisine; however they way the flank steak was plated atop the beans with a side of radicchio really lifted my impressions of mungo beans to a new level. The flank steak was cooked perfectly with a good medium rare color in the middle. Helping add rich flavor to the dish was the sweet soy sauce – a really good balance of sweet flavor to the bitter radicchio and savory steak. Cherry also stated she really enjoyed this dish and it was a refreshing change from the mungo beans that are cooked at home.

 The cassava tart was great. It wasn’t too sweet and the coconut caramel was a nice compliment to the tart while the candied walnuts added a slightly crunchy texture. I think the cassava alone, would have stole the show, but the coconut sorbet was an extra bonus.

I really enjoyed the fruitcake, provided by D’ Cupcakes. The cake itself was moist and did a wonderful job absorbing the crème anglaise. Being as how sour candies are one of my favorite candies, the kiwi on this dish added the perfect tartness to contrast against the subtle sweetness of the mango. 


My Conclusion:

Each and every dish we were served was prepared with great technique and presented wonderfully – which is a testament to Chef Irbille and his crew. If you, reading this were one of the fortunate ones to be apart of this Pop-Up, then I’m sure you share the same sentiment as I do. As a business of any kind, one major key to success is, repeat customers and I imagine it can be tough to keep ideas and menus fresh to maintain customer interest and attraction. However, like the dishes he served, Chef Irbille is definitely fresh and engaging. My only question for him is, what will he think of next?!


Read Full Post »

Sous chef @ Olivar and founder of Irbille Edibles, Irbille Tablang Donia hosted his first ever Pop-up dinner offering Filipino foods with a twist of sophistication. It was my first time at Olivar but after this first experience, I can honestly say it will not be my last.

My wife and I were immediately greeted by our server and seated even though we were early for our reservation. Water was quickly served via glass bottle that was left for use to use throughout the evening.

The restaurant is small and very cozy. It’s a completely open floor plan that lets you look directly into the kitchen and see the organized chaos that takes place in a kitchen. Olivar gives you a “cottage-like coziness” with its hard wood flooring, dim lighting and wood tables/chairs throughout. There is a room in the back corner that could be used for a private party (sepertated by a curtain) that could probably accommodate a group of 10-12.

Our server (forgot her name unfortunately) was very attentive coming back a few minutes later to explain how the menu worked that particular evening and also told us the wine special. I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I ordered the special and alI can say this; it was a red wine from Spain and it was good! Nice mild flavor that went well with the meal.

The Food:

small plates:

pork rillete with diced jicama and chives and crostini

kumamoto oysters with mango & shrimp mignonette (kilawin talaba)

braised carlton farms pork belly with sautéed brussels sprouts & tomato sauce (afritada baboy)

large plate:

 tempura black cod with tamarind risotto & green beans (pritong isda)

The Review:

The Oysters were smaller than I expected, but that didn’t matter at all. They were the perfect bite-sized oysters with flavorful mango and shrimp mignonette. Each of the oysters were served on top of dash of salt and when u put a little salt on top – it made them that much better! My wife doesn’t even like oysters and as soon as she ate the first one, she said, “They really good!”

The Pork belly dish was also awesome. I’ve never had brussel sprouts before this meal, and sadly enough, if any future brussel sprout I eat isn’t prepared and served like this, there’s a high likelihood,I won’t enjoy them. The pork was cook pefectly with a nice crust on the outside and a delicious combination of tender meat and butter-like fat on the inside. The tomato sauce added a perfect accent to both the vegetable and meat – a non-overbearing sweetness.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, one bite of this pork belly + brussel sprout + tomato sauce was one of the most flavorful and texturally delicious bites I’ve ever had!!!

The Pork rillette was also very tasty. Neither of us have ever had rillette before but we’re both glad we had it. It was nice spread that reminded me of another Filipino meat – longanisa! It went very well with the crunch of the baguette! The only down side of this dish was that there wasn’t enough baguette slices for all the spread!

Last but not least, the tempura cod and tamarind risotto. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in fried cod, but let me tell you, this cod was cook perfectly! It had a very nice crunch on the outside and super tender & perfectly cooked meat on the inside. It also had a hint of lemon in each bite. The risotto was delicious and very well cooked. The tamarind wasn’t overpowering at all. When you think tamarind, you usually think “mouth puckering” sourness, but it was not the case in this dish. It had a nice balance of sour and even a hint of sweetness to it. After speaking with the chef after the meal, he said his inspiration for this dish is the Filipino soup, sinigang (a very sour soup). The green beans were a nice side to this meal adding nice color to the overall presentation and firm texture to the risotto.

My Conclusion:

It was a great meal conceptualized and prepared by a great chef! I know this is a long review, but I feel I had to share the whole dining experience and this review is only the tip of the iceberg! Reading vs. experiencing something are two totally different things and I hope to have done Chef Irbille justice!

You know you’ve come across something special, when you can walk away from a meal feeling satisfied…not just physically from the food you ate, but both mentally and culturally from the food you experienced.

Read Full Post »