Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Three Chefs, One Epic Seafood Dining Experience : The 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri with the Finest and Freshest Catch from Japan's Sanriku Coast at Ikomai

An epic feast anchored on some of the world's finest seafood catch from the northeastern coast of Japan guarantees a memorable dining experience. Add three of the country's noted chefs into the mix and the evening is transformed with their masterful renditions for an exquisite seafood feast paired with sake. It was that kind of evening at Ikomai...

Three chefs, one epic seafood dining experience. Chef James Antolin of Ikomai and Tochi Dessert is joined by Chefs Carlo Miguel and Michael Yap for the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri to showcase the finest and diverse seafood from Japan's Sanriku coast paired with premium sake in one truly memorable dinner. From Sanriku's succulent oysters to plump abalone, scallops, salmon roe or ikura, sea urchin and deep sea red crab, Chefs James, Carlo and Mike create a lavish all-seafood feast reflecting the rich and bountiful diversity of Japan's northeastern coast in their creative culinary style. Read on for a tasty peek at each masterfully executed course at Ikomai...

Located along Makati's busy H. V. De La Costa Street, Ikomai is Chef James Antolin's homage to the Japanese culinary tradition inspired by the flavors and culture of Nagoya. The vibrant flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine and comforting street food are recreated by Chef James in a homey community setting for that much needed pause from the hectic pace of Makati at Ikomai. The culinary haven becomes your own space and sanctuary warmed by the sumptuous dishes from the kitchen of Ikomai

That night, Ikomai takes the spotlight for the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri featuring Sanriku's premium catch masterfully executed in an opulent 6-course sake pairing menu by Chefs James, Carlo and Michael. Sanriku's famous seafood was supplied by Hightower, a leading supplier, importer, distributor and seller of frozen Asian processed foods, seafood, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, beverages and Asian deli products to various hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and food processors nationwide. 

How can you go wrong with some of the world's much sought after and prized catch from Japan's northeastern coastline? The premium seafood from Sanriku becomes the flavorful base for the one-night only dining experience at Ikomai creatively expressed in indulgent dishes by Chef James, Carlo and Michael

The cold currents from the north bring a wide variety of seafood like salmon, cod and saury while the warmer waters of the south draws skipjacks and squid and all converge at Sanriku. The fresh catch off Sanriku's coast are then spun in an elegant weave by the three acclaimed chefs for a seafood feast to remember at Ikomai. Each with their own personal culinary style, the bold, clean and fresh notes of the prized seafood remain the focus for the evening's lavish dinner. From the first course all the way to the last, Chefs James, Carlo and Michael take you on a journey of elegant and nuanced, delicate richness with their renditions. 

The kitchen at Ikomai becomes a spyglass allowing guests a glimpse at the magic behind each course and dish for the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri. As more guests arrived, the pace picks up in the kitchen...

...with each step and movement synchronized in deliberate order by a series of prep work...

...and eventual plating overseen by all three chefs. I've always been amazed at how the kitchen brings everything together in clockwork precision, setting the mood and tone for the evening's seafood and sake pairing dinner. 

Guests were served a refreshing Yuzu Sake to open up the palate... the first course was presented, a platter of raw Single Seed Oysters on the half shell on ice with lemon. The Sanriku region boasts of some of the very best quality sashimi grade oysters accounting for the largest share and volume. One bite is all you need to know why. 

The soft and silky smooth texture releases a burst of clean, briny sweetness with each bite, draping the palate with the purest and unrestrained flavors of the ocean. Seafood sourced from colder waters usually have much deeper and richer flavors, and the Single Seed Oyster from Sanriku clearly settes the matter in just one bite. Enjoy it first as is without a fresh squeeze of lemon to savor the pure and clean flavors. Soon, you'll want to go for another...

The Single Seed Oyster course were paired with the Yamagata Masamune Inazo from the Mitube Shuzo brewery of Yamagata Prefecture seals the deal with its aromatic vibrant hints of muscat grapes and soothing dry finish.

The Scallops with curry, calamansi, kaffir, coriander and mint by Chef Carlo brings a fresh and succulent richness to the palate followed by a medley of distinct and flavorful hints from the different components of the elegant dish. The sweet and briny notes of the plump scallops remain the star of the dish, perfectly complemented by the sweet, minty, nutty and citric notes from the different ingredients for a flavorful depth. 

The sheer elegance in its simplicity underscores just how the freshest and finest quality seafood makes a world of difference to any dish. The contrasting play with multiple layers of flavors from the curry, calamansi, kaffir, coriander and mint combine to bring out even more flavors from the scallops. With the very best seafood, keeping it simple works all the time. The dish by Chef Carlo was paired with the Mutsu Hassen-Red Label, a multi-awarded label with fruity hints of pineapple, peach and apple and a smooth umami flavor profile. 

The third course, Oysters and Abalone by Chef Carlo highlights contrasting textures and flavors in an intricate play elegantly and seamlessly coming together in a delectable and balanced finish. The dish is a virtual Sanriku ocean harvest of seafood with oysters, abalone and ikura with a supporting cast of cauliflower, cucumber, elderflower and wasabi.  

The soft and gentle bite of the abalone along with the silky smooth oysters brings luscious layers of richness while the ikura completes the dish with its bright pops of briny notes. The equally stellar cast of cauliflower, cucumber, elderflower, wasabi and nori strips completes the colorful tapestry of flavors and textures. The dish was paired with the Miyakanbai Junmai Ginjo, the flagship of the distillery established more than a century ago with its clean and refreshingly acidic notes. 

The sake pairing added yet another layer to the dining experience at Ikomai providing a much deeper perspective to Japanese culinary traditions. Meticulously curated by Story of Sake, Ltd. from Yamagata, the featured selection offered a variety of unique tasting notes paired with each dish. 

For the fourth course, Chef Michael presented his Crab and Uni with deep sea red crab legs cannelloni, fennel and leeks and uni sabayon. A masterful rendition of classic European culinary techniques with succulent Japanese seafood, Chef Michael's elegant execution of cannelloni with a soft yet firm whole deep sea red crab leg is one creative and tasty pasta expression. The delicate briny sweetness of the deep sea red crab leg is complemented by the indulgent richness of the uni sabayon adding both layers of texture and flavors to the dish while the fennel and leeks bring a balanced finish. Unapologetically rich and even sublime, the Crab and Uni clearly illustrates how you can take any dish to the next level with premium seafood. 

The dish was paired with the Yamagata Masamune Malola, the first sake in the world to be brewed using the malolactic fermentation process commonly used in western winemaking for a smooth and elegantly mellow taste profile. 

From the diverse catch of the day from Sanriku's bountiful waters to the extensive sake collection, diners at the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri were treated to a real taste of Japan at Ikomai

Chef James then presented the evening's fifth course, the aptly named Mélange with its playfully inventive take on the traditional chahan with Japonica rice, scallops, deep sea red crab claws, uni and ikura. Imagine soft and fluffy rice loaded with seafood held together by buttery uni and you have one dish that will have you going for another bowl. Guaranteed. 

Hearty and comforting, the Mélange is another lavish seafood expression from the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri. The moist rice flavored with uni brings the flavors of Sanriku straight to a bowl with the fresh and clean succulent notes of plump scallops and ikura topped with a deep sea red crab claw. A bowl of rice just doesn't get any better or more indulgent than this. The sticky rice becomes the flavorful canvas brightened up by the fresh medley of seafood for the perfect savory ending to the 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri at Ikomai

The Mélange by Chef James was paired with the Mutsu Hassen Tokubetsu Junmai-Black Label, a delicately balanced and umami-driven brew pairing well with seafood and pork. 

But Chef James has one more flavorful surprise to cap the all-seafood feast on a high note. How do you end a seafood feast with oysters, scallops, abalone, crab, uni and ikura? Tochi Dessert by Chef James has the decadent answer...

...with the Citrus, a sinful tart with lemon, caramelized white chocolate and pink peppercorn. Tochi Dessert by Chef James always has the right answer for that picture-perfect sweet ending at Ikomai. The evening's dessert was paired with a choice of Plum Wine or Pure Malt Yamazakura

Using the best and finest ingredients means you're halfway there to a memorable dish. Leave it to a chef and you can surely bet on it. Three chefs? Prepare for unique and creative renditions for an epic feast. Chefs James, Carlo and Michael presents elegant executions for seafood from Sanriku at the recent 6-Hands Seafood and Sake Matsuri at Ikomai, and what an evening. Will you find it soon on the menu at Ikomai? Maybe. Looking for some inspiration with seafood? Just let Chefs James, Carlo and Michael show you the way...

Ikomai Tochi is located at the Ground Floor of ACI Group Building, 332 H. V. De La Costa, Salcedo, Makati. You can also visit their website, FB Page at and IG Feed at for more information and updates or call 0917 709 4809 for inquiries. 

For more on Hightower Inc., visit their FB Page at for more information, inquiries and updates or call 0998 500 1272.

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