[March 27, 2019] Toyo which means soy sauce in Tagalog. Why Toyo? Navarra sees it as a spirit condiment. People look at it as simple, its day-to-day. But there are a lot of layers and elements involved in making it. It is complex yet simple and that character truly represents what Toyo Eatery is all about.
Toyo opened its doors last March 2016 to rave reviews and is located at The Alley, a compound at Karrivin Plaza along Chino Roces.
Chef Jordy Navarra’s clean technique was helmed both by his innate passion, talent and at the same time a true reflective work coming from his previous experiences at The Fat Duck in the UK and Bo Innovation in Hong Kong.
Subtlety of Fixtures
The restaurant has an open atmosphere which allows guests to enjoy Filipino hospitality in a contemporary setting. Complimented with locally sourced types of furniture; Diretso Acacia Tables, E. Murio rattan chairs, and capiz fixtures by Milo Naval. The warn local wood and items stood out so well against the polished concrete and basic interiors.
The bar, by David Ong of the Curator, offers a selection of craft cocktails.
Food Essence and Philosophy
Toyo’s philosophy revolves around taking basic elements of Filipino flavor presenting it in a subtle way that strips basic elements to highlight the true essence of it.
They cook using wood and charcoal. Open fire, but in essence, keep the flavors clean that will lead to simplicity and easy to understand food.
Offerings and Price Point
Toyo’s offerings are best enjoyed through its tasting menus (P2,900 +++ per person) or its three-course set menu (P1,600 per person). A handful of dishes are available in à la carte. We decided to try first the 3-course meal.
(Disclaimer: We updated photos for their 2019 NEW 3 course meal items)
A complimentary bread basket. These are not your usual bread basket. Our particular favorite was the Tocino bread, a warm brioche with bits of tocino and onion.
(NEW) Chicken Liver with Caramel Corn
Tomato Merengue with Ginataang Langka
This is a palate cleanser. Pick it up, put right in the center of your tongue and just wait for it to melt by itself.
About a song that has a garden. Took all the 18 vegetables that they would sing the song. Eggplant and peanut the sprout was a mustard leaf. Incorporated into one cohesive albeit complex dish.
It was considered by many as one of the most creative Filipino dishes to date. Apart from palatably translating the story of a small nipa hut surrounded by a garden filled with vegetables, the chef championed to employ Filipino ingredients – a movement that took its time to come to execute.
Burnt Kalabaza with Sea Urchin and Orange Kamote
They burn the squash until it’s really dark on the outside and then thy scoop out the inside and make a soup with it, they put sea urchins inside and on top they put crispy kamote (sweet potato) for added texture.
(NEW) Nilupak of Sweet Potato and Cassava with Grated Cashews topped with local sea urchin
This was a balancing act; a kiss of sweet and salty in one. We can still experience a bit of sweetness from the kamote, and a subtle briny taste from the uni.
(NEW) Kinilaw of Oyster with Gamet (seaweed from Ilocos), Kabayawa (citrus from Butuan), and Tabon-Tabon (local ingredient typically used in Kinilaw).
The three-cut pork BBQ
The three-cut pork BBQ plays on our classic and staple street fare that is the Pinoy BBQ by using three different cuts of pork (kasim, pigue, and liempo) brushed with reduced pork bone broth in a process that takes 12 hours to do. Cooked over wood and charcoal then served with coconut cider vinegar.
The meat is tender, smoky and savory. Dip it in the coconut cider vinegar for most flavor. Served with Silog. Chicharon, Toyo rice, garlic, and egg yolk.
Grilled Belly and Loin
Twist play on our classic Bangusilog. It’s ridiculous how perfectly the bangus (milkfish) was cooked perfectly. Served on a bed of spinach, while the silog’s sticky rice, raw egg, and crispy fish skin make for an exciting amalgam of flavors and textures.
We had the Grilled Cassava cake over charcoal. Smokey and not too sweet. Delectable and simple preparation.
The Dulce de Leche Chocolate with Patis was very interesting in terms of the use of ingredients and texture play. Elements of sweetness, bitterness, and saltiness were present in each drop.
Pineapple and Smoked Coconut is made with layers of coconut cream mousse, pineapple gelée, pineapple granita, garnished with a cadena de amore flower. We were instructed to make sure to sink our spoons to the very bottom of the bowl, and get all layers as we dig in. Velvety, naturally sweet coconut cream hits you as it hits the tongue, followed by a subtle introduction of acid from the granita melting in your mouth, then the gelée helps marry in the coconut and pineapple together, similar to a piña colada, but more defined in flavor and very refreshing.
A fun and light approach to food and this mirroring is a reflection of the Filipino culture where we’re pretty hospitable and nice to visitors. The casual and candid approach, yet you see the technique and refined style applied to every dish.
There’s a sense of family among them. When you see the way each one interacts with one another. Very confident and knowledgeable of what they are serving a true sense that all of them are very proud of their team’s output product.
A small detail that we notice as well as how they are championing to use Tagalog when they explain and share insights with the diners. No pretense.
Overall Story to Tell
Fine dining for the QUALITY and NOT for the FORMALITY.
The staff made us feel relaxed and comfortable during our stay which adds up to the overall dining experience.
Chef Jordy Navarra and his team are doing things differently. They are challenging the status quo and offers something unique, familiar and yet refined to Manila’s dining scene.
Food that represents who we are and where we’re from. It’s a good way to understand Filipinos and Filipino food in general.
As of March 26, Toyo is now counted as among the best in Asia, according to an annual list curated and voted on by the industry’s top gourmets.
The 2018 Miele One To Watch Award recipient was ranked 43 in the 2019 list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, an annual event organized by William Reed Business Media.
The awards night took place at Wynn Palace in Macao late Tuesday, March 26.
We never give out CX rating of 5/5 of 5, but for Toyo Eatery we’re putting it out there.
Special cheers to our fellow taste chaser The Domestic Diva for sharing her inputs!
2316 Chino Roces Ave.
1231 Metro Manila
+63 917 720 8630
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