A Festive Degustation at Toyo Eatery
Toyo Eatery, nestled in a slowly developing space at the Karrivin Plaza along Pasong Tamo, draws inspiration from two worlds. On the one hand, it presents something all too familiar: Pinoy food. On the other hand, they change things up, innovating dishes we’re accustomed to and turning them into something else. The food is served in small plates, recommended to be consumed as part of their seven-course tasting menu (P2,900) or the three-course set menu (P1,000).
Yet despite the inventiveness of their dishes, Toyo stays true to native techniques. Everything is prepared in front of you, at their open kitchen, cooked over wood and charcoal for that unique charred flavor, inspired by kitchens in the provinces. As soon as the fire starts burning, the entire place fills with the delectable waft of their handiwork: the sour after-scent of boiling vinegar, or the smoke from grilled pork on coal. It feels like you’re in your family’s hardworking kitchen during Noche Buena, but this time with the indulgence of elegant dining. And this fusion seems to be exactly how the people behind this restaurant (a group of young, impassioned cooks sweating it out in the kitchen) envisioned it to be.
Toyo is one of the first establishments to open at Karrivin Plaza's The Alley.
Capturing the Filipino style are the capiz lights by Milo Naval and the rattan chairs by E. Murio.
The seasonal espada
The prized bangus and its accompanying -silog.
Pork Barbecue made from three cuts of pork.
Toyo is headed by 30-year-old Chef Jordy Navarra, who along with his former team from (the old) Black Sheep, put up this place they now call their own. “When Toyo was built, it felt like we finally had a home,” says Chef Jordy. “One thing that I wanted to do was stay true to who I am. So we made this restaurant that was more fitting to our personality. It’s more laid-back and approachable. But even if it’s simple, there’s a lot of complexity to it.” It shows in their dishes too. All of the flavors they present are not entirely new-you know what to expect, and in that aspect, they satisfy. But it’s good to note that the familiarity brings forth more a sense of comfort than it does boredom. Because once the plates are artfully laid out in front of you, there is an element of surprise, and the dish, though classic, is delightfully different. Something has changed, a minor detail-like using a kamias and guava broth as dipping sauce for battered espada fish on a skewer. Or the bangsilog-grilled bangus belly and loin on a bed of spinach, topped with charred chili, and then served with a bowl of sinangag sticky rice. Or the pork barbecue made from three different cuts of pork instead of one, resulting in a tender, more delicate taste. The authoritative flavors of Filipino cuisine are still there, but it’s unlike something you’ve had before.
Toyo Eatery is one of those places you go to, and you leave not just talking about the food. You are enamored by the design of the space and its attention to local detail: like the capiz lights by Milo Naval and the rattan chairs by E. Murio. You are drawn to the energy of the room, and the overall dining experience is what sets it apart from the rest.
Toyo Eatery is at The Alley, Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City; tel. no. 0917-720-8630; [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.