Early this summer, Hillman City will be home to a high-end, distinctly Northwest Filipino restaurant from former Modernist Cuisine chef Aaron Verzosa and his wife Amber Manuguid. The duo has grand plans to recreate the flavors of the Philippine islands using modernist techniques and largely local ingredients — for example, souring traditional sinigang broth seasonally with tomatillo, tomato, or Granny Smith apples instead of tamarind, reports Seattle Met.
Since Verzosa and Manuguid both grew up in Washington, they want to lean heavily on the local bounty, which means employing a high level of creativity — many ingredients Filipino food relies so heavily on, like rice and soy sauce, aren’t currently possible to get without importing them at least from other regions of America if not from abroad. Putting its own spin on the cuisine, Archipelago’s hot pan de sal rolls or miki noodles will be made with Washington wheat and local duck eggs.
Archipelago is taking over the former home of Eyman’s Pizza at 5607 Rainier Ave South. The small space will seat only 14, so the format will be tasting menu-only, with around eight to 12 courses and two seatings per night. The couple hopes to break the stereotype of immigrant food as humble or tending toward home cooking, and Archipelago certainly sounds like it will be a special occasion place.
Verzosa, who worked in research and development at the Modernist Cuisine cooking lab, was also previously a chef at Harvest Vine in Madison Valley. Logically, the chef’s modernist influences will be front and center at Archipelago, with contemporary takes and artful plating of classic dishes.
With this latest restaurant announcement, Filipino food’s rise in Seattle grows ever more visible. Much of the groundwork for this was laid last year, with pop-ups like Musang and Ilaw and restaurants like Happy Grillmore and Hood Famous Bakeshop all raising the profile of the cuisine. More recently, Capitol Hill speakeasy Knee High Stocking Co. also expanded its Filipino menu, while a Tom Douglas alum opened Filipino-Hawaiian fusion restaurant Barkada in Edmonds. And after a successful Kickstarter campaign, La Colonial is closer to its goal of opening a Filipino tapas bar in the Central District.