Feasting on Filipino Fusion at Mercury Lounge

Last night, Mercury Lounge chef Dominic Ainza showcased Filipino food like SFoodie's never seen before. Think kare-kare dumplings, pinakbet pizza, and tocino truffles ― purists may have been crying blasphemy, but we thought Ainza's menu represented Filipino creativity at its best.

The one-night, 12-course tasting dinner featured classics morphed into playful, inventive dishes that remained faithfully Filipino.

Take Ainza's kare-kare, oxtail stewed in a sauce thickened with ground rice and peanuts. Ainza wrapped savory morsels of oxtail in delicate dumpling skins and served them with bagoong, Filipino fermented shrimp paste.

His embutido, Filipino-style meatloaf stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and andouille sausage, was a playful take on the infamous Spam musubi. His laing, collared greens and black-eyed peas in spicy coconut milk, was a delicious Southern twist on the fiery Bicolano vegetable stew.

Ainza spooned pinakbet ― a kind of ratatouille of long beans, onions, and tomatoes in shrimp paste ― worked surprisingly well served on flatbread, topped with mozzarella and Asiago cheeses. And his tocino truffles, a dessert he collaborated on with Filipino food blogger Jo Boston-KwanHull, were a huge hit. The crunchy bits of sweet-salty tocino (cured pork) were truly delightful.

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