While we’d all love to have some beers by the beach every time things get stressful, it’ll probably take a lot to be able to pull it off. But a quick break from your daily routine shouldn’t always be so stressful. In fact, sometimes all you need are some good grub, great friends, and a quick adventure. All of this you can find in La Chinesca, your new go-to taqueria tucked in a small neighborhood down south.
A trip to La Chinesca, the brainchild of our faves chef Bruce Ricketts and partner Jae Pickrell, is everything you’d hope for in a city adventure. BF Parañaque is close enough for an afternoon drive, but it’s also of the food parks in the metro. The travel almost feels like a mini road trip too if only because you have to go past Makati and pass through a tollgate.
But the real excitement begins upon going through the food menu. It’s a pretty short list but it’s enough to make you curious. Ingredients like goat meat and beef intestines come up and it would look quite intimidating for a taco if it were any regular restaurant. But the pairing with the other ingredients (tacos with watermelon, anyone?) and Bruce’s seal of approval are just enough to make you take that bite and find out what these dishes really taste like. But aside from the food and travel, La Chinesca also tells the culinary journey of one of today’s top chefs. Young STAR sits down with Bruce Ricketts to talk about going back to his roots, the importance of comfort, and the art of making tortilla.
YOUNG STAR: La Chinesca is quite a contrast from your other restaurants, Sensei, Mecha Uma and Ooma. Is there any particular reason for going Mexican?
BRUCE RICKETTS: The thing about Mexican food is that it’s something I’ve known more than Japanese. Before Sensei, the default cuisine that I did was actually the Baja California style of cooking. I decided to go back to Mexican cuisine just because it’s a nice break from the kind of (Japanese) cuisine that I normally do, which is a bit more strict, subtle with flavor, and ingredient-centric. Now, I’ve been craving it (Mexican) more than ever. I built La Chinesca so I can eat in the restaurant. Maybe a part of me will say that I wanna show people how I believe a tortilla should be, how I believe a taco should feel. If someone goes to my home, it’s the kind of food that I want to make for them.
Is that why you decided to put up the restaurant in BF?
I decided to open in Aguirre because Sensei is my first restaurant and it happened to be in Aguirre as well. It makes sense for me to do it again here, where I find that it’s like a home turf. It has a nice support from customers and I know a lot of regulars. I felt more comfortable doing it here than in any other place
How do you manage all your restaurants, especially La Chinesca that just opened?
In La Chinesca, I have a guy who specializes in picking all the meats. The same guy has been with me for years, since the beginning of Sensei. My other guy wakes up early in the morning to make all the tortilla. At night, he’s the one who makes ceviche, salads, guacamole and other drinks. It’s composed of a very small team, but people who have been with me for a very long time, or people that I really trust. It also makes sense that I do it in BF because it’s like the breeding ground for a lot of my cooks who have been with me for a while; a lot of the cooks who know how I want things to be. It’s faster and more efficient to train them here.
What makes it authentic is what it feels like when you go to a taqueria — it’s tight (and there’s) the loudness, the colors and the decor. It can be interpreted in different ways. (When it comes to the food,) I believe it’s also the same idea. I don’t need to put all kinds of authentic salsas on my thing. I know how to make them, but I do them to my own style. For what it is, you just call it a taqueria, which is a place that sells tacos.
Your off-menu dishes are creating quite a buzz. What are some of your favorites?
We always have specials every week. We always have things off-menu because we get itchy. We do a few dishes and when we get excited, we add a few more things. It’s just really based on seasonality and what’s available. We bring in avocados that are from Mexico; they’re much bigger and much fatter than what we have here. We do a lot of dishes with that. Sometimes we have things like fried oyster tacos and uni tostada, which is basically a bunch of uni placed on a crispy tortilla.
La Chinesca just opened but it’s already becoming a favorite in BF.
The idea is for the people to really get to know the guy behind the counter and carrying their food. On Sundays, families come here. On weekdays, people come in, grab their taco, and in about 15 minutes they’re out. It’s a casual thing for them. We’re glad that it’s turning out to be what we want it to be, which is really more for the neighborhood.
La Chinesca is located at 248C Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Parañaque.