G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Makati City
Contact: 0916-636-9817, 541-6689
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Friday and Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) The mezzanine level of the new Nikkei in Rockwell has a bit of a secret speakeasy vibe to it. A short climb up to a dim little hallway leads to four walls encasing one of the best examples of private dining: Issei.
The inherent wonder of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine aside, Issei gives you all your favorite parts about dining out with a few of the comforts of eating at home, and then some. Reserve the room and have the buzzer on hand—it's time.
Age Gyo Set
Among their lunch sets, their most unique might be the Age Gyo Set (P450), with its sweet fried potato balls that fall somewhere between a lunchtime snack and dessert. The sea bass with pineapple dip is an unusual flavor combo you need in your life, and the coleslaw gives you palate-cleansing crunch. Every lunch set is served with a rich but light miso soup and their in-house ice cream. Adding the Bergamot Iced Tea (P100) is a must.
But any of the available sets would go well with a Tokyo/Lima Red Eye (P395), a crisp gin-based drink that has no qualms if it's not five o’clock anywhere. Meanwhile, the Norito (P295) is probably better suited to day drinking. It just errs on this side of odd as a different permutation of a mojito with, you guessed it, seaweed in it. Pair with their amazing Aburi Roll (P695/10 pieces)—or perhaps a side of Tiradito (P195) if you're feeling extra light and fancy—for an afternoon filled with the urge to call everyone “old chap." Try it, it's fun.
But is it really Peruvian without ceviche? Even if it could be, that's no world we want to live in. Go Classic (P320) just because it's got everything good ceviche can give you, including a pool of leche de tigre, or the tiger's milk. We dare you to drink it. We did—and we've never felt more alive.
If you're looking for something more filling, there's no going wrong with the Carrilleras (P395), because 1) Braised Iberico pork and 2) Truffle potato cream. That's it. That's all the justification it needs. We don't recommend sharing if you want to keep your friends. Paired with the Strawberry Basil Lemonade (P160) and you've got that strange—but oddly magical—transitional time between summer and fall, all in a meal. If you can't be a jet setter, your digestive tract can still go.
Some people simply have to close with something sweet. Our go-to is the Suspiro Limeño (P220), a smooth caramel dessert balanced out with zesty berries and a meringue to soften the blow. Throw in a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and there are simply no more excuses not to go.
Photos by Hans Fausto