Flavorful, straightforward, and devoid of all pretensions.
This is how Toyo Eatery wants to present itself and Filipino food in all its natural glory.
Around June 2015, Executive Chef Jordy Navarra finally had the opportunity to do his own thing and open his own restaurant. He already had quite a following from his previous restaurant, so a lot of people were understandably excited when news of a new restaurant started spreading. Chef Jordy grabbed the opportunity and didn’t let go until the doors of Toyo Eatery opened on March 29, 2016.
‘How Filipino dining should be’
“It’s called Toyo Eatery because toyo (soy sauce) is one of the most common ingredients in most Filipino dishes. And we decided to use ‘eatery’ instead of ‘restaurant’ because we want to keep it simple and focused on Filipino culture,” explains Noelle Magcale, who’s in charge of the front of the house at Toyo Eatery.
“We don’t have to put up the show, no bells and whistles… it’s very unique, very different, but at the same time it’s very familiar,” she adds. “This is a great place to experience Filipino food and Filipino hospitality because we’re serving food the way Filipino dining should be.”
Chef Jordy also made a conscious effort to use only locally sourced and sustainably grown ingredients for their dishes, which was one of the biggest challenge for his new culinary endeavor.
“Your dish can only be as good as your ingredients,” Chef Jordy said. “Finding quality ingredients that are responsibly sourced and locally grown can be quite challenging, especially in terms of logistics.”
Despite the challenges, Chef Jordy is determined to provide the best of the Philippines at Toyo Eatery, even if it means getting fresh oysters from Aklan on a daily basis.
All their hard work are obviously paying off as shown by the people’s response and their prevalent social media presence.
When asked about the people’s warm reception of Toyo Eatery, Chef Jordy answered, “We’re very happy, it means people appreciate what we’re doing and people like our food.”
Filipino flavors, Philippine pride
This is Filipino food in the hands of a culinary visionary like Chef Jordy Navarra.
Toyo Eatery’s menu is very simple and highly dynamic with the team’s constant pursuit of improving their offerings. Printed on regular bond paper, it gives them the freedom to change the menu as often as they want.
Despite its simplicity, the few items on their menu showcase Filipino flavors and Filipino pride in terms of culinary items. Some dishes even give an eclectic twist to Filipino favorites, like the corner-favorite pork barbecue or silog (sinangag or fried rice; itlog or egg). Where does Chef Jordy get his inspiration to create such dishes?
He answers, “I get my inspiration from the Philippines itself: the flavor profile, the traditions and ingredients. We basically think of how to make things fun and tasty yet very close to home.”
For those who plan on visiting Toyo Eatery soon, make sure to try their best-sellers:
Start off with Fresh Aklan Oysters with Pickled Cucumber Salad and Lime and Basi Vinaigrette. It’s briny with a hint of fresh seafood taste, yet somewhat sweet because of the Basi (sugarcane vinegar).
For the main dish, try their Three-cut Pork BBQ with Sukang Sasa (coconut cider vinegar), which uses three different kinds of pork cuts: kasim, pigue, and liempo. Thinly sliced and stacked in a specific order for maximum flavor, the skewered meats are grilled to perfection. The sweet, savory, and smoky glaze goes perfectly with their signature ‘Silog.’
Toyo Eatery Silog (sinangag + itlog = fried rice + egg) is made of short grained sticky rice mixed with free-range egg yolk, shaved tuna roe, garlic chips, chives, then topped with a generous sprinkling of crunchy and salty chicharon bits.
Chef Jordy says, “If they want to have a good time and enjoy food that has the spirit of Filipino flavors, we are a good place to come to.”
Chef Jordy gave us a teaser on what we can expect from Toyo Eatery in the near future, saying, “We’re working on new things, coming up with new ideas, improve our current menu items.”