In Inato, global ingredients are cooked the Filipino way 2
Chef JP Cruz's culinary style is inspired by travels locally and abroad. JC Cailles Lo
Food & Drink

In Inato, global ingredients are cooked the Filipino way

In Inato, you will be served mostly premium seafood from different parts of the world, but all will lead back to being Filipino in terms of flavors.
JC Cailles Lo | May 10 2024

The sous chef of Toyo Eatery is technically out of the restaurant but, in a great way! I did not realize that when Inato was launched a few months ago, it meant that Chef JP Cruz would now solely concentrate on this new concept. 

Inato in Visayan language means “our way,” and true to its philosophy, this 8-seater counter restaurant has a very distinct positioning. It is an expression of Chef JP’s culinary style inspired by travels locally and abroad. It is where we can experience his full creativity and command in the kitchen. This is where he shines.

But how is this unique from the other Filipino a la carte establishments present in the market? I observed that they heavily use global ingredients and cook them using local techniques. Whereas it’s common for us to see locally sourced ingredients cooked and plated French style, this is the other way around. Here, you will be served mostly premium seafood from different parts of the world, but all will lead back to being Filipino in terms of flavors.

 Chicken Soup and Okra. JC Cailles Lo
Chicken Soup and Okra. JC Cailles Lo

Once seated, complementary inihaw na okra on stick will be served paired with a comforting chicken soup that has hen of the woods mushroom, native to the mountains of Northeastern Japan. 

A small paper with limited but all-quality items will be handed out so one can check the desired orders. Do not be shocked because I had a lot as a solo diner!

Pacific Oyster and Yellow Tail. JC Cailles Lo
Pacific Oyster and Yellow Tail. JC Cailles Lo

My first dish was Pacific oysters from Washington State, USA sinuglaw style. Derived from twi words -- sugba (grill) and kinilaw (cooked in vinegar) -- the colossal and plump oyster was prepared with spiced coconut vinegar, grilled garlic chives, and pickled ginger.

Next is the yellowtail fish from Kagoshima town in Kyushu, Japan. The raw slices of buttery fish were tossed in kamote vinegar with passionfruit and longan, chili leaf oil, and finished off with the very rare asin tultul of Guimaras Island.

Scallop & Caviar and Abalone. JC Cailles Lo
Scallop & Caviar and Abalone. JC Cailles Lo

I also had scallops from Hokkaido, Japan with sweet corn from Quezon, ensaladang kangkong, and a generous serving of caviar. This was simply heavenly.

Abalone from Wando County in South Korea was next. Still from its shell and sliced thinly for easier consumption, this is another interpretation of a kilawin dish and accompanied by ensaladang red onion, abalone liver, and kinchay.

Young Corn. JC Cailles Lo
Young Corn. JC Cailles Lo

My last appetizer was a dish inspired by our street food cheese corn. Young corn from Tarlac was used, with garlic butter, atchara vinegar, and topped with grated Mimolette cheese from Lille, France. This brought back childhood memories.

Swordfish Belly with the sides of fried asuhos, pinakbet, and plain rIce. JC Cailles Lo
Swordfish Belly with the sides of fried asuhos, pinakbet, and plain rIce. JC Cailles Lo

Now time for the main act. All their “ulam” comes with a side of fried asuhos fish, refillable plain rice, and Ilocano pinakbet seasoned with patis bisugo. My choice was something I had never eaten before -- swordfish belly from Miyagi, Japan. The sauce was made of roasted shrimp heads, kamias, green mango, and tomatoes. Firm but melt-in-your-mouth fish slices, partnered with a rich bisque-like sauce, it was probably a mistake that Chef JP left the sauce with me because I ate and finished it like a soup.

It was such a memorable experience dining at the newest member of the Barangay Toyo, Inato. A superior a la carte experience without investing in a tasting menu, this made me realize more that our local cooking style is indeed world-class and can match any premium global ingredients cooked with it.  

For big groups, a six-seater private room is available for reservation. Make sure to check out the cool toilet too, but you have to find out first where it is hidden.