Jordy Navarra’s ‘lechon buro’ a surprise new dish | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Aklan oysters with “tabon tabon” by Toyo Eatery
Aklan oysters with “tabon tabon” by Toyo Eatery


Toyo Eatery has been on a roll lately, and there’s been a steady flow of traffic through its discreet doors in The Alley at Karrivin. Apart from an increased customer base since winning Asia’s 50 Best’s “One to Watch” award, the exposure has also opened up more collaborations with chefs, local and foreign.

What sounds like a strategic move on the part of Asia’s 50 Best’s “One to Watch” actually happened by chance—a cascade of chefs, invited over to cook with, said yes, and their dates came in rapid succession.

Unlike some chefs who are possessive of their kitchen and grudgingly do collaborations for media mileage, Toyo Eatery’s Jordy Navarra, and his wife May, genuinely enjoy hosting chefs. He likes hanging out with them, talking food techniques, sourcing ingredients and learning from them. She enjoys the logistical challenge.

But hosting chefs is expensive. Airfare and accommodations are always the responsibility of the home team. Good thing, Nespresso and Peninsula Manila came in as sponsors to help defray the costs.

Toyo’s latest collaboration was with Locavore of Bali, Indonesia (not to be confused with Locavore Manila, Brixton Street in Pasig). Ray Adriansyah came over bearing, among other things, home-cured duck from the restaurant in Ubud.

Goat leg tartare, eggplant emulsion, ginger-torched flowers, charred coconut milk by Locavore of Bali


Collaboration dinners are always tricky things to pull off. I don’t know how it works from the chefs’ point of view, and how it feels to share your kitchen with another chef, even someone you trust and respect.

But from the diner’s point of view, what we like seeing is a genuine collaboration between the chefs, rather than the feeling that you’re eating two separate, interlaced dinners.

The flavors of Locavore are a natural fit with those of Toyo Eatery—so much so, that for many of the dishes, we had to ask which chef did what. Because we were all a bit tipsy and hard of hearing, we had to ask several times.

The standout dish of the evening was a tartare of minced goat meat. I’m a fan of goat in general, but usually in adventurous dishes like goat’s head kaldereta with the eyeballs plucked out.

On Toyo Eatery’s side, Navarra surprised everyone with a new dish that should be on the new menu shortly: lechon with buro. I’m also a big fan of buro, but not a diehard one who’ll eat rice buried around the time of Tutankhamun and which smells of feet. For three days, the rice is gently fermented with all the right complex notes coming out.


Chicken Pop: Coconut brined chicken, pickled mushroom and chicken skin crumble by Locavore of Bali

Interaction effect

In scientific methodology, there is the interaction effect, the result of two variables mixed together. Locavore has collaborated in the Philippines in the past, with Vask (though Eelke Plasmeijer was here that time). I was pleasantly surprised at the synergy between him and Chele Gonzalez.

This time was, I would say, equally successful—but completely different. It’s hard to compare like and unlike and say which was better. Both were excellent, in completely disparate ways.

Although I’ll be covering the collaborations because they’re such interesting experiments, like great bands jamming or the combination of star conductor with star soloist, I’d like to put in a word for checking out Toyo Eatery on a normal day—“in ordinary time,” as they say in the liturgical calendar. The vibe is relaxed, there are no paparazzi or annoying journalists like myself trying to corner the chefs, and Navarra is throwing out an interesting new menu.

For those interested in the coming events, here’s the lineup of future collaborations:

Nouri, Aug. 8-9 (fully booked; only for waitlist)

Suhring, Aug. 16-17 (accepting reservations)

Mume, Sept. 26-27 (accepting reservations)

Labyrinth & JL Studio, dates to be announced but most likely October (accepting reservations) –CONTRIBUTED


Chef Ray Adriansyah of Locavore of Bali
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