What’s New (And Good) In Manila? Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra

At Toyo Eatery, there's something for everyone-- from ala carte dishes to set menus (PHP1,000) to tasting menus (P2,900). And cocktails are by David Ong of The Curator

That’s the million-dollar question I get from… well, everyone. There are always lots of new restaurants popping up around the city– but whether they are good or not is a different story. It’s difficult for me to recommend newly opened restaurants because there have been more than one occasion that when I go– it’s good– but then a few people who go after me will say, it was otherwise.

Toyo Eatery is my favorite new restaurant in Manila. And it’s a tall order for me to declare just one. But this time, I do so confidently as I’ve been there four times since it’s opened last March 2016,  had most of the same dishes at least three or four times, and they were consistently… excellent– and cerebral. (And yes, about time I put together a blog post on such a brilliant restaurant!)

Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra- Karrivin Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati
The entrance to Toyo Eatery at Karrivin Alley (Mara Coson’s project) in Pasong Tamo Extension

You may have first come across chef-proprietor Jordy Navarra on this blog last November 2013 when I posted about my birthday salubong at this then newly-opened restaurant Black Sheep. (You know what, it still remains one of my most popular posts to this day!!)  I actually first met Jordy on Twitter– and in Hong Kong in 2011 when he was working in Bo Innovation— so I’ve really watched and followed his talent and evolution over the years. (Just click here if you want to see what Jordy and I looked back in 2011, haha!) He has since then moved on to become one of the country’s most talented chefs, and in another old post, I wrote about how he had developed  one of the most relevant tasting menus in the country. 

Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra- Karrivin Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati 3
Jordy Navarra with sous chef JP Cruz and commis Dhanmark Bergonia, and jr. sous chef Gren Mendoza (behind) at the Toyo open kitchen

Ok, so Black Sheep– Jordy– Toyo. At the previous Black Sheep, Jordy had described his cuisine as “progressive with familiar flavors.” But while he was a staunch advocate of Philippine produce, using almost only local ingredients, it was not as blatantly known– unlike in Toyo. I mean, the name itself is already so Filipino. (Yup, as in the Philippine soy sauce.) But, it’s hard to label it as a Filipino restaurant. Because while yes, it serves heightened Filipino dishes using local ingredients (I’ll get to that later), Toyo is also a reflection of Jordy’s heritage, memories, training and experiences. Jordy is proudly Filipino– who worked overseas (The Fat Duck; Bo Innovation)– and then came back– and put together the best of everything he has learned/ underwent/ become, and Toyo is a reflection of it.

Yes, even in the interiors which showcase: slabs of acacaia turned into table tops by Diretso, hanging capiz lamps by Milo Naval, rattan chairs by E. Murio (also the hanging broom set by the bathroom– look out for it!) and a gorgeous open kitchen. And likewise, the service, which is friendly, knowledgeable, and always one step forward. Jordy’s lovely wife May handles reservations, and Mark Santos and Noelle Magcase run the front of the house.

Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra- Karrivin Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati 2
The gorgeous interiors at Toyo: slabs of acacaia turned into table tops by Diretso, hanging capiz lamps by Milo Naval, rattan chairs by E. Murio

What I love about Toyo is that it has something for everyone: an ala carte menu, set menu (P1,000 for 3 courses) and a tasting menu (P2,900 for 6 courses). I asked Jordy how he describes his cuisine at Toyo and he said it is centered on the ingredients available in the Philippines.  “It’s more of, this ingredient is grown here, it’s easily available– what can we do with it? What techniques can we apply to it? What can we serve with it?”

Heralding back to its name, Toyo, while an everyday Filipino condiment is also very complex and takes a lot of time and dexterity to make; a lot like this restaurant– what you see at face value, takes a lot of labor… of love. This is similar to the dishes at Toyo, where quintessential comfort Filipino food as we know it– is elevated into another level– by technique, skill, and flavor. For example: Pork BBQ here is 3 cuts of pork (shoulder, butt and liempo) layered together to play on flavors and textures before skewered and cooked over charcoal and wood, and finished in pork bone broth. I mean, it’s pork BBQ on a stick, which we all had growing up, but this one, takes about 12 hours to make!

Tocino Bread at Toyo Eatery
I usually avoid bread courses but in this case I wanted to eat even my companion’s! Haha. Tocino bread– kind of like a warm brioche with bits of tocino and onion– not your usual predictable bread basket. It’s soooo good. Oh wait, I actually did eat my friend’s, too! :-D
Tomato Meringue at Toyo Eatery, Makati, Philippines
This one-bite wonder is incredible. Tomato meringue with ginataang munggo and fermented munggo. So good! But eat it fast before it melts.
Kalabaza Soup at Toyo Eatery
Burnt Kalabaza Soup with orange kamote and uni.. excellent, hearty and filling.
Garden Vegetables (formerly known as Bahay Kubo at the old Black Sheep) at Toyo Eatery
Yes, yes, Bahay Kubo is here! Renamed as Garden vegetables and no more song lyrics here.. but still all 18 ingredients in the folk song all here. PS That black stuff is dehydrated eggplant and peanuts!
Three Cut Pork BBQ and Silog Rice at Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra, Karrivin Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati 3
The most painstakingly done Pork BBQ you will ever have in your life. According to Jordy, we “slice it in blocks then semi-freeze it so we can get the right thickness on the slicer. Then we slice, skewer and then brine.” The broth that they reduce to glaze the BBQ takes about 10p12 hours and they do it in a master stock style so the glaze from the day before gets added to the they make daily so they keep the some of the characteristics and add to its complexity day to day. It’s served here with the glorious silog rice.
Silog Rice at Toyo Eatery, Makati, Philippines- Sticky Rice, Free-Range Egg, Tuna Roe and Chicharon
Another shot here of the BEST silog rice you’ll ever have in your life: sticky rice infused with soy, dried tuna roe, garlic, chicharon and topped with free-range egg yolk
Soon on the menu: grilled mackerel from Quezon province basted with their homemade butter, and served with a guava-kamias sauce.
Soon on the menu: Grilled mackerel from Quezon province basted with their homemade butter, and served with a guava-kamias sauce.
Torched Cassava Cake and Chocolate with Patis at Toyo Eatery by Jordy Navarra
In my opinion, the best torched cassava cake- and also chocolate balls made with dulce de leche and patis (fish sauce)

Bring your friends. Your family. Your colleagues. Your overseas guests. Balikbayans. They will love it.

This was from my 4th visit to the restaurant- a special lunch hosted by National Bookstore for the launch of Caran D'Ache in the Philippines. So all our favorites are there- with the addition of the Mayura Wagyu Onglet Steak, which is new on the menu as a main, and their house-made iced tea. (Credit must be given to Tim Yap for taking this photo with my phone!)
This was from my 4th visit to the restaurant- a special lunch hosted by National Bookstore for the launch of Caran D’Ache in the Philippines. So all our favorites are there- with the addition of the Mayura Wagyu Onglet Steak, which is new on the menu as a main, and their house-made iced tea. (Credit must be given to Tim Yap for taking this photo with my phone!)

PS Cocktails are by David Ong of The Curator (which apart from being named Asia’s #18 best bar, also has the most intricately layered cocktails in the country– read my review here), and are done by bartender Gerric Anos at the restaurant.

Craft Cocktails at Toyo Eatery were created by David Ong of The Curator

Toyo Eatery is located at The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. It is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6 PM to 11:30 PM. For reservations, phone +63917 7208360.