IKO­MAI

In Nagoya, it’s quite com­mon to hear peo­ple hap­pily shout­ing “Iko­mai!”: street slang for “Let’s Eat!”. Words that are mu­sic to our ears, an in­vi­ta­tion that we can’t re­sist.

Let’s Eat - - WHAT'S INSIDE - WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON EN­RIQUEZ

Acou­ple of evenings ago, I was hav­ing drinks with a restau­ra­teur and we both mar­veled about Iko­mai, and how it’s be­come one of the most pop­u­lar new restau­rants in the highly com­pet­i­tive Sal­cedo Vil­lage streetscape, de­spite launch­ing with very lit­tle so­cial me­dia fan­fare. There were hardly any an­nounce­ments on Face­book, and rel­a­tively few posts on In­sta­gram, the two chan­nels es­sen­tial to pro­mot­ing most new es­tab­lish­ments nowa­days. My friend men­tioned that per­haps, Iko­mai is pros­per­ing be­cause it’s ex­actly where it needs to be for the pa­trons that need it. It’s a bril­liant in­sight.

First, park­ing is easy. There’s a mas­sive open lot di­rectly across the street. Sec­ond, it’s on a densely pop­u­lated, high-foot traf­fic lo­ca­tion on De La Costa street. Third, it has a cozy, al­most low-key, serene vibe, punc­tu­ated by a pleas­ant sur­prise: an al fresco gar­den area. Fourth, it lever­ages the good­will and builds on the menu from its hum­ble be­gin­nings as a Ja­panese street food stall in the vil­lage’s fa­mous Satur­day mar­ket. And fifth, but far from the least, Iko­mai has the culi­nary equiv­a­lent of a killer tech app; the restau­rant also houses “Tochi”, which of­fers many of the finest desserts in Makati, in­clud­ing the “Espresso Wal­nut” cookie, which the cognoscenti value as the best damn choco­late cookie in the city.

It’s al­most an ex­cla­ma­tion point to the en­ter­tain­ing story of how Iko­mai came to be: a tall young Ja­panese chef knocks on the door of the home of a re­spected Filipino chef; they have

PHO­TOS BY GABBY CANTERO

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1 Mo­ri­awase Kushikatsu 2 Tuna Poké 3 Iko­mai In­te­ri­ors 4 Shio Saba 5 Tochi Espresso Wal­nut Cook­ies 6 Chef Hide Saedeki

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