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Ito Kish’s TikTok-famous cafe is now a restaurant where eyes feast first

Ito Kish’s TikTok-famous cafe is now a restaurant where eyes feast first

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  • At its new Makati outpost, Ito Kish Design Food expands its cafe concept into a restaurant space replete with design treasures and San Pablo delicacies served on covetable tableware
ito kish restaurant makati

Furniture designer and interior design consultant Ito Kish never expected his namesake cafe to blow up on TikTok. He admits to being an old soul, sticking to traditional media like print. So imagine his surprise when the phone-wielding kids began rushing into his Makati showroom that only previously saw tita clientele.

That space closed down last November. It was a little cramped to begin with, and he adds, a tad disruptive bordering haphazard for his precious wares sourced from all over Europe displayed in his adjacent showroom. (Kish did meet up with the creator behind the viral TikTok video to thank her for the boost.)

Most elements from the cafe were retained like these menu cards.

But he had the intention of moving to a bigger, separate space—and from that, Ito Kish Design Food in Salcedo Village was born and opened in February.

The cafe still stands albeit in a cozy corner of the restaurant. Fans of its previous iteration will be relieved to know that Kish retained its original layout (complete with towering suamei plants) as well as its satisfactory drinks menu that drew coffee aficionados even after the TikTok crowd moved on to the next new It cafe.

Cafe side
Main dining area
[READ: Ito Kish Cafe doesn’t want to be an ephemeral TikTok discovery]

As a non-coffee drinker myself (derogatory), I was glad to be reunited with Nanay Sisang, Ito Kish Cafe’s tropical drink made with coconut milk and nata de coco. My co-workers were won over by their coffee orders (espresso with coconut milk called San Pablo and espresso with coconut milk and nata de coco called Pandin) so were nearby office employees who troop to the cafe after lunch, a usual sight at the new location, Kish says.

The main dining area is an interior Pinterest board come to life—if your ideal space is a room in an English castle with modern mood lighting aplenty and quirky flourishes (feathered war bonnet or a moose antler, anyone?). This is, after all, an Ito Kish-curated room, where you can also buy what you see now.

Kish is also a hands-on first-time restaurateur. Much like with the first cafe concept, he mines his family history for the dining menu, mixing San Pablo delicacies with select dishes from his work travels to incorporate the story of his design store.

Tapang kalabaw silog

We ordered the minanok, puso ng saging cooked in coconut vinegar and toasted coconut milk, for starters at his suggestion. I call it a plant-based oyakodon because it’s served with banana chips (get it?). However, I would much rather eat this slightly acidic and creamy San Pablo specialty with rice or on its own.


For something heftier, there are rice meals, too, like tapang kalabaw silog and inalamangang lechon baboy with crispy pork skin. At P475, the stylized tapsilog is a visual feast on its own, served on a plate Kish designed himself and laid on top of a golden anahaw dish, which somehow justifies the price.

The inalamangan, though substantial in portion, seemed to have foregone fermented krill’s briny flavor out of fear of offending taste buds sensitive to even just a little deviation from acceptable levels of saltiness. The accompanying crispy skin that was supposed to give a textural element to the dish is unrecognizable in both form and flavor but was a nice rest for your jaw in between bites of tapang kalabaw.

Kish is well aware of these comments. He brushes it off and chalks it up to the subjectivity of (culinary) taste and spectrum of preferences. At the end of the day, these are the dishes he grew up eating in San Pablo, Laguna, done the way he likes it.

Buko et nata is a sweet homage to Kish’s grandmother who used to prepare this during summers.

Maybe we would have had more luck with the fish entrees, given San Pablo is known for its many lakes and Kish insists they source the seafood from his hometown. The wild tilapia sinugno grilled on a banana leaf with burnt coconut and guava and even the vinegar-based salmon pinais prepared by wrapping fish in edible leaf before stewing seemed promising and more flavor-diverse than its meat counterparts. 

All of this is to say that Ito Kish Design Food menu still offers some variety even with a lean menu.

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