4 Restaurants With Scrumptious Cuisine
Walk into Ikomai and you’ll instantly want to hang out. Sit at the long bar/counter that extends almost the length of the space and chat it up with the kitchen staff, or if the weather is nice, settle in the inviting terrace outside. The vibe is informal and relaxed with an Instagram-friendly look that thankfully won’t scare away the “non-millennials.” Ikomai has been a favorite of Salcedo Market denizens for its Nagoya-style street food and legendary Tochi cookies. Now at the restaurant, the Salcedo favorites are still on the menu—tebasaki or Nagoya style chicken wings with sweet or spicy glaze, and kushikatsu or deep fried skewers of karaage, pork, shrimp, eggplant, okra and more. But the menu now offers raw seafood as well, from traditional sashimi to Ikomai’s own version of poke, tuna or salmon, with avocado, wonton strips and sriracha mayo.
The Ikomai motto is “we are home,” and understandably, you can enjoy a meal there anytime you want, like at home. Lunch sets include a choice of rice bowl (karaage, sashimi, etc.) with miso soup, green bean salad and a Tochi dessert. A Japanese-style afternoon tea is in the works. At night, the extensive drinks menu—sake, whisky, wine, cocktails—is a real draw. And let’s not forget the beautiful desserts by co-owner and pastry chef James Antolin, like his matcha tiramisu shaped in a roll, or his Bavarian lychee with layers of chocolate and guava. Before leaving, make sure to pick up a cylinder of Tochi cookies, simply the best in town.
- Anne Marie Ozaeta
G/F ACI Building, 147 H.V. de la Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, (02) 816-4588, (0999) 887-0297, ikomai.today
At Nono’s, dining is a celebration of your tastebuds with Chef Baba Ibazeta cooking up a storm. The beloved patissier and restaurateur created a menu of knockout dishes like Truffle Cheese Wonton, Pork Belly Balsamic Adobo, Mac n’ Cheese and Nono’s Homestyle Fried Chicken, each a unique twist on well-loved family classics. “I feel like eating is a celebration—someone’s birthday, an anniversary,” says Chef Baba, so that in conceptualizing her menu she focused on the “things that made me happy.” Well, they make us happy, too!
Chef Baba had an interest in culinary arts from a very tender age and went to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Her culinary prowess was honed after many years’ focusing on her pastries under Classic Confections. Which is why you should never miss dessert at Nono’s—her Chocolate Oblivion remains to die for.
Her new restaurant is a chic, tasteful space that reminds of Palm Springs with its soft muted colors and homey ambiance. There is nothing pretentious here, just like in the cooking which is the embodiment of nostalgia. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so please head over to Nono’s and experience Chef Baba’s cooking yourself.
- Hannah Lopez
G/F UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City
Just to flip open the slim menu at The Pigpen is sheer pleasure, when you know that a delectable meal awaits. The new restaurant of Chefs Trisha Macdonald and Carlos Garcia Rodriguez is a cozier, friendlier version of their first restaurant, Black Pig. “Think of it is the younger sister,” says Chef Carlos with a grin. While Black Pig is serious destination dining, The Pigpen is a relaxed space where you can get such familiar comforts as roast chicken and nachos.
The menu reflects the evolution of Chef Carlos’s tastebuds after four years in Manila, being exposed to local ingredients like calamansi, patis, tamarind, kimchi. “The menu is Asian European,” he says, “because you can’t take the European out of me!” His “experiments” are flawless, and the standouts on the menu include the Sisig Papadum Nachos where melt-in-your-mouth sisig complements the Indian tortillas. The Grilled Tamarind Chicken, marinated in lemongrass, coriander, black peppercorn in a tamarind-chive sauce feels distinctly Thai-inspired. Pork Belly Kimchi is delightfully plated with potato spirals and served with a smoked egg sauce.
It’s a great spot for breakfast, a working lunch (service is really fast to accommodate one-hour lunch breaks), a relaxed and leisurely dinner. We love the craft cocktails created by Jericson Co of The Curator, and carefully designed to match up with the menu items. With elegant industrial interiors designed by Hisako Hirayama of Design HQ, it’s the place to be for comfort food that’s never predictable, and beautifully executed.
- Troy Barrios
Eton Tower, Rufino Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City
It’s all in the name. Toyo or soy sauce, an everyday condiment that’s so deceptively simple, made with minimal ingredients, with layers of complexity, and made with a lot of technique and knowledge. And Eatery, just a place to eat without fuss or frills, with focus on the food. This is the new playground of Chef Jordy Navarra where he has created the most exciting progressive tasting menus in the city. This is not home-style Pinoy cooking, but boasts amplified flavors, careful finishing touches and it is, undeniably, a deliciously cerebral experience.
Go for either tasting or set menu (you can always add a few dishes from the a la carte menu). Everything is outstanding, but for brevity we will only wax lyrical over a few. Three-cut Pork Barbecue, each cut taken from a different part of the pig. It’s skewered and brined, brushed with pork broth glaze that takes ten hours to make and served with coco-cider vinegar. It’s served with a glorious side of Silog Rice: sticky rice infused with soy, topped with dried tuna roe, chicharon and a free-range egg yolk. Chef Jordy even resurrects a cult favorite from his old restaurant, Black Sheep—Garden Vegetables is his salad that uses all 18 veggies mentioned in the song Bahay Kubo.
We should probably mention dessert is exceptional, too. Cassava cake baked in a charcoal oven, torched to get a fine crust, pleasingly gooey in texture within. And delightful Dulce de Leche Bonbons filled with caramel and patis. Begin and end your meal with a cocktail, and everything is perfect.
- Troy Barrios
Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Extension, Makati, (0917) 720-8630