Food

In Salcedo Village, You Can Find Japanese Food Like You've Never Seen or Tasted Before

Ikomai x Tochi is not fusion. It's distinctly Japanese.
IMAGE Majoy Siason
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Whether you’re there to unwind with a cocktail after a long day, or having a quick lunch break, or a friendly get-together with your best mates, there is something truly comforting to have a neighborhood restaurant where everybody knows your name.


The patio is a great place to spend cool nights out in the open.

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Clockwise from left: Chocolate Symphony, Kushikatsu Moriawase, Salmon Poke, Tebasaki, Ikomai Taco, Citrus Panna Cotta, Lemon Citrus Bar


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The bar area is good for solo diners who want a quick bite during lunch.

The vibe in Ikomai x Tochi is chill and friendly, the kind where you’ll share a laugh with the bartender as he mixes up an umeshu cocktail for you. Begin with a few bites of their kushikatsu—deep fried skewers of seafood or meat or veggies. If you can’t choose, try the moriawase, an assortment of their best-selling sticks. If you’re waiting for friends, this would be the time for you to start texting them impatiently, wondering where they’re at. But with each bite off the stick, you settle into complacency. Wife running later than usual? Not a problem, honey, take your time. I’ll just order another round of drinks and a wagyu kushiyaki. She’ll wonder what’s gotten you in such a good mood.


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The bar's liquor stock is replete with Japanese whiskeys and umeshus. Their Umeshu highball is a great way to beat the heat and remove the day's stress from your body.


Ikomai Taco


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Tebasaki


Kushikatsu

Ikomai x Tochi is a great spot for dinner with the people you enjoy hanging out the most in tow. Most of the dishes, while gorgeously plated, are excellent for sharing. While the portions are quite filling for one, they’re also great as small bites shared between friends because, trust me, you’ll want to order nearly everything off the menu. The food has an almost French sensibility with touches of eclectic tastes. The Salmon Poke is an amalgamation of such cross-culturing. It’s plated like a classic French terrine, but the bed of avocado that the salmon rests upon gives it a definitive Baja California feel. Yet always and with every bite, it is distinctly Japanese.

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Salmon Poke


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Chef James Antolin


James Antolin, Ikomai x Tochi’s chef and one half of the duo that brought this restaurant to life, shakes his head vehemently at the idea that they are a fusion-Japanese restaurant. “Fusion means taking one thing, adding it to another and being surprised by the flavors that come out. That’s not what we do.” The foundation of Ikomai x Tochi is the marriage of flavors that the chefs already know will go together and presenting them in an innovative fashion.

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The restaurant's core, however, can be found in their dessert. Once again, you can't get over the fine French presentation: long bars, slick surfaces, and a delightful lightness to the tongue. There is passion and pride in every cookie (their triple chocolate chip cookie is incredibly dense and gooey), in every flaky, creamy mille feuille-like bar (the bavarian lychee is a surprisingly good palate cleanser). Had Ikomai x Tochi decided to eschew their dining menu and focus solely on desserts, people would still be flocking to their door.


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Chocolate Symphony


Bavarian Lychee


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Had Ikomai x Tochi decided to eschew their dining menu and focus solely on desserts, people would still be flocking to their door.


Chef James' specialty is dessert.

Though the restaurant has only been open for two months, their tables are always full—reservations at this place are a must unless you're willing to sit at the counter, which many people, especially the lunch crowd are willing to do. You'll find a number of worker bees from the surrounding neighborhood taking a quick lunch break there before going back to work, their step lighter albeit with a heavier belly.

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Ikomai x Tochi is at ACI Group Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City.

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Patricia Barcelon
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