IKOMAI & TOCHI G/F ACI Group Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City Contact: 816-4588, 0999-887-0297 Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Stepping inside IKOMAI & TOCHI is like discovering some sort of restaurant oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle. From the paved parking lot, you’ll be surprised when you walk through the narrow entrance and see a lush pocket garden through the glass wall at the far end of the room. It’s such an arresting sight that your eyes will probably just glaze over the open kitchen and the minimalist décor.
This Japanese restaurant just opened in May, but IKOMAI & TOCHI has made a name for itself at Salcedo Market since it started to participate there in November 2015. “It is inspired by Japanese street food,” says part-owner Taro Hori who is a native of Nagoya City.
Some menu items take inspiration from Nagoya cuisine as Head Chef Hide Saeki hails from the same city. His parents used to run a small restaurant in Japan for 70 years until his father passed away. But the chef was able to preserve their family’s culinary traditions and apply them in his own restaurant venture. The chicken karaage, for instance, is a recipe from his father that has become popular in the said weekend market.
The simple furnishings and décor provide a perfect canvas for his creative kitchen concoctions. Apart from promoting Japanese favorites, the diner aspires to promote local culture, too. “We also want to create a space where the people can share and exchange ideas and values.” Taro mentioned that they’re still going to add finishing touches to the place, including adorning the blank walls with art pieces from local artists. “We want to bring the community space here as well for the Salcedo people. We really love that spirit.”
Since they’re well known for their street food, you shouldn’t miss the kushikatsu or Japanese deep-fried skewers. There are solo servings and there’s the assorted kushikatsu that allows you to get a little taste of everything. The Moriawase (P450) is made up of chicken karaage, onion, okra, pork, and shrimp. The chicken is especially juicy, crispy, and just luscious.
For sashimi and salad lovers, the Tuna Poke (P320) is the way to go. Small chunks of tuna tartare are sandwiched between layers of avocado and cucumber slices and topped with crunchy slices of wonton wrappers. Meanwhile, the raw fish complements the creamy avocado whereas the dressing has a hint of spice that certainly adds zing to the dish.
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IKOMAI is becoming popular with the office lunch crowd and it has lunch set meals with eight variants for now. A must-try is the Tochidon (P470), a hefty bowl of Japanese sashimi rice topped with salmon, tuna, snapper, and salmon roe. The chunks of cucumber add crunch and egg bits give another layer of flavor. It’s really a hungry man’s meal as it comes with miso soup, Japanese green bean salad, and IKOMAI's dessert-of-the-day.
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The restaurant also draws its own dinner crowd and those who stay for after-dinner drinks. You can grab an Ikomai Taco while enjoying a bottle of beer. Instead of the typical Mexican tortilla, IKOMAI's version has deep-fried nori as its wrapper. We ordered each variant to share—Tuna (P180), Salmon (P200), and Shrimp (P220). The fillings include thinly sliced cucumber, radish, salmon roe, and microgreens. Though it’s not spicy like the usual South American tacos, its play on textures is very enjoyable.
The restaurant also makes a pretty decent High Ball (P220) with its hodgepdge of Suntory whiskey, lime, and soda water. It would be a remarkable nightcap, along with some sweet treats from Tochi, the desserts department helmed by Creative Director Chef James Antolin. The Bavarian Lychee (P180) and Chocolate Symphony (P180) both seem like they came out of a French patisserie. Each has intricate layers that highlight the respective fruit and chocolate flavors.
Soon, the restaurant will be serving afternoon tea sets and will have more desserts on display. Isn't your sweet tooth already tingling at the thought?