When in Manila and lusting for barbecue and/or Japanese food, you must try out Toki- Q, a new barbeque restaurant in San Juan. Boasting the first and only rotating barbecue grill in the Philippines, it offers yakitori style barbeque which you can find scattered in the streets of Japan. I am a firm believer of learning culture through food, and what better way to have a taste of the Japanese culture than having one of its famous streetfoods? The best part is, you don’t have to shell out a boatload of money to go to Japan in order to do so!
Yakitori directly translated means “grilled chicken.” It also refers to other types of bite-sized meat, skewered and grilled. It originated from Japan in the 1600’s, gaining popularity in 1960s as a favourite food in izakayas as they are supposed to go really well with beers.
I was excited to represent wheninmanila.com in the intimate buffet organized by Zodio. I asked my friend Allen, sometimes photographer, to come with me and help me review the food. He used to live in Japan for a couple of years, hence able to give me a more- or- less accurate comparison with the yakitori found in Japan.
Located at a very accessible spot, TokiQ stands at the corner of two busy streets, P.Guevarra and Wilson Street, so it’s hard to miss. The restaurant itself is a bit quaint and can seat only a small group of people at a time. It is a welcome break from the usual jam-packed fast food restaurants, especially if you’re coming in to eat after stressful work or school. One of the first things I noticed about the restaurant is how there was not smoke at all. For a small space, it was very well ventilated. And though it may be smaller than your average restaurant, I was very happy to note that I did not smell like their food when I went out from there.
TokiQ is perfect for students, employees, kids, parents, friends, virtually anyone who’d like a quick meal in a very straightforward, no fuss atmosphere. Their menu also fits any kind of budget, with complete meals which is composed of four different TokiQ sticks, miso soup, drinks, and rice which is unlimited, no less, under P200.00! You can also buy per stick or per platter. Every order comes with unlimited rice! Yes, you can order one TokiQ stick and you can enjoy limitless amounts of carbohydrates. Here’s a sample list of their menu to get a better idea:
Chicken Ball – P29
Chicken Skin – P26
Chicken Fillet Stick – P27
Chicken Fillet with Leeks- P32
Chicken Wings – P45
Pork Ball – P29
Tontoro (Pork Belly) – P30
Tontoro Pork with Leeks – P35
Asparagus Wrapped in Pork- P28
Karaage – P75
Toki BBq Corn -P48
The rotating grill in action
Skewered meat waiting to be grilled
The food was everything I expected and more. The grilling machine , we were told by part-owner Wendy, was custom-made abroad and cannot be found elsewhere in the Philippines. While waiting for my order (Combo 3) I decided to watch the rotating grill as it cooked our orders. It was a bit hypnotizing to see bits of food in skewers moving along as they get gloriously brown and slightly charred. When finally the food arrived, I was not disappointed. Every bite was gustatorily satisfying. The chicken balls were amazing, I was expecting them to be chicken flavoured dough, but it was very meaty and delicious. The chicken fillet was as tender as you please making each bite kind of zen-like. The chicken wings were great, charred nicely and flavourful as the sauce seemed to have seeped through the meat very well. The pork belly was awesome. For someone who obsessively pick out non-fried fat before eating them, I hardly remembered I was eating pork belly. The fat was very fine for one thing, and too yummily cooked for another.
Chicken wings, chicken balls, chicken fillet and pork belly, grilled to perfection
Next served was the Kara-age which has the potential to make me extremely addicted. It has the right amount of crunchiness, saltiness, and the tare sauce was not overpowering at all. Everything was just right. If left to my own devices, I could probably finish 3 orders of that with no problem. We were then treated to their grilled corn. Now I never tried eating grilled corn. I thought it’s all tough because there’s no water involved cooking it (yeah, silly me) and it was a pleasant surprise as I bit into the juicy cob that it was very, very soft and sweet. It was sprinkled generously with their special barbeque powder. I give it my special seal of approval (*virtual stamping*). Even Allen seemed to have enjoyed the food; and the only thing Allen wished for was beer that usually goes together with the traditional yakitori of Japan.
Yummy grilled corn with special barbeque powder
And if you are one of those people who like ending their meals with something sweet, TokiQ offers ice cream mochi, their bestseller being the unique Barako Coffee flavour. It was a shame they ran out of it that night, it goes to show how popular it is among its patrons.
Overall, it was a fun eating experience, with every order having its distinct contribution to the increasing level of love for their food. I’ll definitely go back if I happen to be around the place. I would love to try the meat Asparagus Covered Pork (which I heard was fabulous) and the chicken skin, also one of their bestsellers (Oh, dear! Happy fatness!)
Other items offered at TokiQ. Mochi!
Participants of the buffet with part-owner Wendy (second person from right) organized by Zodio
So When in Manila and hungry, make sure to drop by TokiQ and be treated to a satisfying, budget-friendly, and unique meal. I guarantee you’ll leave with a full tummy and a happier disposition.
Photos courtesy of Allen Uynicky
P. Guevara Cor. Wilson St. , San Juan, 1500
(02) 425 98 67
TokiQ: Bringing a Japanese Favorite to the Pinoys