The first time I read about this place, I already wanted to go here. That was 2017, I think. Now, two years after, I have finally eaten at Ikomai, and it did not disappoint.
Ikomai have silently swept me off my feet. The place looks elegant but understated. For me, that’s the best kind. Soft yellow lights filled the grey walls, giving the entire dining area a sleek, intimate touch. The tableware is everything — stoneware for the dishes, tulip-shaped glasses, and wooden chopsticks that were dark and delicate. The al fresco area is cocooned by greenery with high chairs and tables that almost transport you to Brooklyn… a rooftop perhaps?
Almost all the dishes we ate that night looked as pretty as that bowl of sashimi above. I have never seen such beautiful plating before, the kind I only see on Chef’s Table.
“Aburi” means lightly seared through a flame. According to the menu, this duck aburi is made from half broiled smoked duck. So it’s broiled and it’s smoked. What I tasted was a delicious piece of meat that’s juicy, tender, fatty. Also that brown dot of a sauce on the upper right side is called yuzu. As a Top Chef fiend, I was excited that I finally get to taste stuff that I see on TV. Yuzu sauce is made from yuzu rind, bell pepper, and salt.
The question is did it taste good together? The yuzu sauce was salty and peppery. I wish I was sure about this but no, not really for me. It’s something that I have yet to understand as I continue to expose myself to these odd sauces and their pairings.
Now this Japanese braised pork dish tasted exactly like one of my favorite Filipino dishes — humba. Eyes-closed, it was humba. Eyes-open, I see a beautiful plate of upscale humba. Delicious!
This moriawase – meaning combination platter – of kushikatsu is possibly my least favorite. The assortment includes pork, shrimp, chicken, okra, and onion fried katsu-style. Tempura basically. I wish I could say more but that’s it. You’ll want a beer by the time you finish a couple of bites from this platter.
And finally, desserts. This one’s a whole new level of festive sweet treats. Looking at the dessert plates we’ve had, it’s obvious a pastry chef is at the helm of Ikomai & Tochi. Our group ordered four desserts: lemon citron, matcha opera, Tochi cookie, and chocolate symphony (the last two I wasn’t able to photograph, unfortunately).
The tochi cookie is by far my favorite. Everything you imagine a delicious homemade chocolate cookie should be is THIS TOCHI COOKIE. It’s soft, warm, and chewy. Every bite gives you an indulgent cookie crumble filled with lots of gooey chocolate mix. Who knew such an unassuming chocolate cookie could pack this much warmth and happiness.
Before I get to the lemon citron, what is it with these goddamn plates? I love this black stoneware! A part of me won’t mind if the thing on top of it tastes like boiled okra, I’m in love with these plates. Good thing these desserts were far from boiled okra.
The lemon citron has a lemony tart base with an apple-yuzu gelee. This one lives up to its name. A bite gives you full-on lemon flavor with contrasting textures from the gelee and tart base.
Matcha Opera offers a not-too-sweet alternative for the ever popular matcha flavor. You get all the matcha goodness you want in this soft, soft cake.
And lastly, the chocolate symphony looks a little like the matcha opera but in dark chocolate layers. I personally loved this one, too. An eight-layer cake filled with different variations of chocolate — moist cake, ganache, brownie, and glaze.
I wish I could go back to this restaurant soon. Good food, good ambiance, good booze, good service. The price I paid was commensurate to the entire experience I’ve had — which was, simply put, delightful. On nights when you want a little extra for your weekend dinner plans, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Ikomai.