Qui restaurant begins its transition to tasting-menu only in its dining room this evening. Chef Paul Qui and his team will offer a seven-course menu nightly going forward. The menu costs $65, and there is a vegetarian menu available for $55, though prices may fluctuate (approximately $60-$75). The restaurant will soon be offering an online reservations tool, but for now guests can make reservations by emailing through Qui’s website.
While they transition to the new tasting menu, Qui will offer their pulutan (Filipino small plates) menu for a la carte options in the dining room for the next two weeks.
The restaurant plans to publish its daily prix-fixe menu on its website each day by 5 p.m. Chef Qui said the new tasting menu will allow him and his team to work with seasonal ingredients that might have a smaller window of availability.
"I can actually capture smaller snapshots of these moments within the seasons, and make them shine," Qui said.
The prix-fixe menu is a change that developed organically at the East Austin restaurant that has helped introduce many diners to Filipino dishes. Qui recognized when he opened his restaurant that diners may be expecting a certain style of cooking from him, but he wanted to use the new space to explore his various inspirations.
"I definitely had a lot of trepidation. It’s scary. It’s a new thing, and I understood there were a lot of expectations," said Qui, who opened his eponymous restaurant in June of 2013. "Even the Filipino thing evolved organically, like a lot of things that have happened at this restaurant. I guess I’ve been cooking Japanese food or Tyson’s food for awhile and doing things modern. When I first opened here I wanted to focus on a lot of fundamental cooking, and cooking that kind of food brought me back to Filipino food and my upbringing."
The tracing of the Filipino dishes and their genesis led him and his Spanish chef de cuisine, Jorge Hernandez, to investigate the connection of Filipino and Spanish cuisine and the way those flavors integrated themselves into Mexican cooking. The culinary anthropology also served as a personal revelation for the award-winning chef.
"It definitely brought me in touch with my culture and a history that I never even really thought of until now," Qui said. "I didn’t really think about why we had lechon or why we had paella. And in the states it’s kind of the same, but sometimes totally different. And I never really questioned that, I just accepted it for what it is. But in cooking it I started to think of how those connections are made, and it’s amazing how similar certain things are and how it’s changed based on it being in the Philippines versus Spain versus Mexico."
The new prix-fixe menu will serve as an evolution for what they’ve been doing for the past year, but "it’s still in the same spirit of us trying to utilize our product with the best quality."