We can learn a lot about chef Jordy Navarra just by looking into the name of his establishment: Toyo Eatery. “I prefer the term ‘eatery’ because restaurants can get caught up in genres and definitions,” he says. An eatery, on the other hand, is simply a place where you can eat food. And for Jordy, all the focus should be on food that keeps his guests happy and satisfied. But this simplicity can also be complex, because it takes a lot of time, technique and understanding to make something appear effortless.
It’s precisely this play between the simple and the complex that diners will experience at Toyo Eatery. Its polished concrete walls and the modern lines of long acacia tables serve as a casual yet elegant canvas on which Jordy (formerly of Black Sheep, a modern gastronomy restaurant where Jordy first introduced his Bahay Kubo, a garden salad that includes all the vegetables in the popular folk song) presents cuisine that he describes not as “Filipino” per se, but as food that takes off from the essence of Filipino flavors and techniques. “I would say we’re very much inspired by rural cooking so we use a lot of charcoal grilling and wood,” he explains. And many discerning guests have raved about his three-cut pork BBQ (skewers with three cuts of pork: pigi (short shank), kasim (Boston butt) and liempo (pork belly) dipped in vinegar that is both tart and sweet) and his espada (also on skewers) dipped in guava and kamias (a sour fruit) broth. Just don’t expect any family-style servings or heaping mounds of rice to go with them — the seven-course tasting menu, or the three-course set meal are the recommended options.
For his recipe, Jordy reconnects with fond memories from childhood holidays. “We prepared pork BBQ, queso de bola sorbetes (Edam cheese ice cream) and a grilled bun of tocino (bacon) and onion with tsokolate (Filipino hot chocolate),” he shares. “These dishes are inspired by a mix of Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) food and grilled pork that my family always has for gatherings. The BBQ and the bread are signatures at Toyo Eatery, and these flavors are very close to my heart.”
Jordy Navarra’s Holiday Duo with Tsokolate
- Take different cuts of pork (like pigi, kasim and liempo) and place pieces of each cut on a skewer.
- Grill over charcoal. Then brown the meat with a blow torch.
- Baste pork skewers with a sauce made from boiling pork bones and meat with onions, garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce and spices like pepper and bay leaves.
- Plate with a side of ice cream sandwich made with a tocino and onion bun along with jamon and queso de bola sorbetes.
- Serve with tsokolate made with super high quality Tigre y Oliva chocolate, a bean to bar chocolatier based in La Union.
This story first appeared in the December 2017 issue of Smile magazine.