Category Archives: East Village

Ippudo: everything they say it is

ippudo-storefront

I used to be ashamed to say that I have never been to Ippudo as a 5-year downtown New York resident. Shame, be gone, because guess what – I went last night! And because most New Yorkers were out of town celebrating America’s independence, my friend Sara and I only had to wait 1 hour at 7pm, which is pretty much a miracle given the average wait time each time I’ve asked has been no less than 3 hours. 

While I came for the ramen (yes, it’s ridiculously, unbearably hot in New York but I’m recovering from the flu), I leapt for joy (alone) when I examined Ippudo’s awesome cocktail list. After a little shochu with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and soda at the bar, Sara and I were seated in the chaos of shouting ramen chefs and privileged foodies chompin’ at the bit for their ramen to hit their table. Given I’ve waited 5 years to eat here, I didn’t want to mess around – we ordered the steamed pork buns, fried chicken wings, a green salad, and the Wasabi Shoyu Ramen, a soy sauce and vegetable based noodle soup that the waiter recommended as a lighter version of the thick pork broth that can get a little salty. The pork in the pork bun was perfectly crispy and meaty with just the right amount of fat content, but I by no means welcome mayonnaise in anything, and I couldn’t really get over the glob of mayo that caught my eye. The hot fried chicken wings with Ippudo’s black pepper sauce made up for it – a plate of 3 for $7 was a steal, and they were meaty, hot, crispy and totally unique in tangy peppery flavor. The crispy cabbage on the side rounded it out as the perfect small meal. The green salad was nothing to boast about, but that’s to be expected. 

steamed bun with pork

steamed bun with pork

crispy chicken wings!!

crispy chicken wings!!

wasabi shoyu ramen (the only vegetarian option)

wasabi shoyu ramen (the only vegetarian option)

Now, the ramen. I know the traditional order is one of the ramens in pork soup, but as a sickling all I wanted was something light and brothy. The shoyu ramen was the perfect answer. It was dark, earthy and rich in flavor, and with the side order of pork and a bounty of curly ramen noodles, it was absolutely filling. While the bamboo shoots were a little tough to chew, the soft slices of seaweed added a unique texture, I only wish there had been more. 

At just $25 per person, I left Ippudo feeling satisfied with the return on my investment – a rarity in this city of exorbitant prices and small food. When I’m willing to wait again with a party of 2 (probably no more, though they have a few pretty large tables), I will definitely be back. 

Grade: A-
Location: 65 Fourth Avenue @ 10th Street (new location in midtown west coming soon!)
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Filed under Asian, East Village, Erin's Favorites, Japanese

Jeepney: one beer cocktail and a memorable halo halo

Jeepney

photo cred: tomas delos reyes

I can rarely end a meal without a formal dessert, so I was thrilled to come up with the genius idea of stopping at Jeepney in the East Village after my sweet-treat-less meal at Prune. I was stuffed to the brim, but all things considered (finally being in the area, having wanted to eat there for ages), I couldn’t resist ordering the dessert that brought me back to my childhood: the halo halo. Halo halo is a traditional Filipino sweet that’s pretty much their version of “everything but the kitchen sink.” It’s usually served as a mixture of ice, evaporated milk, and a random assortment of fruits and sweets. Jeepney creates the best version I’ve ever had – shaved ice, evaporated milk, chunks of coconut flan, red bean, sweet candied fruits, and the icing on the cake: one large scoop of purple yam (ube) ice cream and rice crispies. I devoured this thing in seconds, and sipping my orange-flavored beer, I was in fruit-filled heaven.

IMG_0011

blurry halo halo

This week’s NY Times review and this dessert is proof I need to come back for a full meal, though my heart will always be with Maharlika, the gastropub’s sister restaurant.

Grade: A+ for dessert
Location: 201 First Ave between 12th and 13th Streets
Website 

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Filed under Affordable Date, Asian, East Village, Filipino

Prune: simple, stand-out French fare in quaint quarters

1

Prune is another one of those special places, like Buvette, who’s got their brand essence down to a T; the feeling of elegant comfort is oozing throughout every minor detail of the restaurant. The bright pink awning, the matching pink menus and pink-uniformed wait staff, the tiny wooden tables, the adorable open kitchen exposing big copper pots, the white bowls of citrus, the hand-written menus, and the rustic wainscoting create the perfect aura of an adorable French cafe. No trendy stilettos and 3 hour wait lists here – Prune draws a neighborhood crowd looking for comfort in a sea of Lower East Side Manhattan scenesters. The setting, in addition to the delicious food, is why I entered and left the place smiling.

Prune is a legend. I’ve been reading about it since I moved to New York 4+ years ago, but it takes a lot to get me to venture to the Lower East Side. Fortunately, I was out of work early so I couldn’t pass up the invitation to have dinner there with my boyfriend, a long time fan of the place. I started my meal off with an italian greyhound- my ideal cocktail of vodka, fresh squeezed grapefruit, campari and rosemary served over massive ice cubes in a dainty glass tumbler and the perfect side-kick to the tin of seriously addictive chick-pea flatbread. I arrived pretty hungry, so that in addition to the fairly meat-heavy menu led me to order more heartily than usual. We started with the parmesan omelette and a side of swiss chard with olives, both light and beautifully simple. The omelette, slightly browned, was a savory combo of just a few ingredients: eggs, generous shavings of parmesan and beautiful flakes of salt. With the lightly sautéed greens, it would have been a beautiful meal on its own, but I couldn’t resist trying the filet mignon and homemade pork sausage that the couple was devouring next to us.

pretty in pink

pretty in pink

sidecar + flatbread

sidecar + roti

omelette = perfection

omelette, lightly browned but moist and soft

swiss chard

swiss chard

pork sausage

pork sausage

steak

steak

I’m not a huge pork fan, but this sausage was awesome, not only because it’s seared to a crisp, but because it wasn’t bursting with oily moisture like some sausages I’ve tried. The flavor is deep and earthy, perfect with the bed of lettuce served beneath it. The compact filet of steak, surrounded by a beautiful fried fan of potatoes, was simple and delicious as well.

Nothing on the dessert menu stuck out to me, but the meal ended with complimentary chunks of dark chocolate (70% as we confirmed) served with the bill. See! Every little detail is well thought out. This is the type of place I want to be and if I were to ever become a restaurateur, would want to open one day. It’s not cheap for the portion sizes, but I’ll definitely be back.

Grade: A
Location: 54 East 1st Street btwn 1st and 2nd Ave
Website

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Filed under East Village, Erin's Favorites, French, Fun Group Dinner, Lower East Side

Hearth: high priced, elevated comfort food

I had a whirlwind work week in San Francisco but the second I landed, I shot over to just-opened, paper-covered-windowed Jeepney for an apaerol and guava cocktail before joining my friends Michelle and Ashley on one of Ashley’s “last weeks in NYC food tour” meals across the street at Hearth. Though everyone in passing boasts about the food here,  I can’t say much about their marketing – the website needs a serious cosmetic uplift (cheesy images – see below, confused theme description, and even the font of the name bothers me), and I don’t recall reading much about it in my daily publications. Still, after hearing stories of their decadent pastas, I was super excited to have a relaxed Friday night over a good meal with friends.

After getting a 15 minute rundown on cider from our overly eager and frantic waitress (definitely a starving stage actress), we placed our order and downed a shot of delicious, body-warming roasted vegetable puree, compliments of the chef. We then launched into the lettuces and vegetables salad with an assortment of cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted carrots, beets and a crunchy, nutritious puffed quinoa, and the smoked Spanish mackerel with grilled radicchio and golden raisins. The salad perfectly combined interesting and simple with local ingredients and multiple textures. The fish itself was earthy, smokey and perfectly soft; I only wish the chef had preserved the bitterness and bite that I traditionally love about radicchio.

“lettuces and vegetables”

smoked spanish mackeral

For our mains, we unanimously agreed on the Spatchcock Roasted Poulet Rouge Chicken and the Veal and Ricotta Meatballs with spinach cannelloni. Apparently, “poulet rouge” is an older breed, free-range bird that is commonly known for its flavorful meatThe chicken was indeed flavorful, juicy, well seasoned, and simple – just as a roast chicken should be, though I always prefer the skin a little crispier. The mini-saucepan of hot, creamy polenta was really what caught my attention. The main character of the pasta dish didn’t wow me either – the meatballs, though large, were too dense and overly salted, but I loved the beautiful pasta-wrapped spinach on the side.

meatballs & chicken

Our chocolate peanut butter sundae unfortunately was the most disappointing. What seemed like a dream come true turned out to be a melted mess of what was pitched as ice cream but turned out to be chocolate pudding (I swear it) with a small dollop of peanut butter nestled at the bottom. This type of dessert has the potential to be incredible – chefs should not mess with the simplicity of  a delicious ice cream sundae – but our waitress was nice enough to take it off the bill after we expressed our confusion. Apple sauce donuts were none other than delicious, so that helped make up for it.

apple sauce donuts

peanut butter sundae

I love the atmosphere of Hearth. Everything about it screams Fall: the amber lighting, the brick and red walls, the candles, the open kitchen, the long cider menu, even the name . But when reviewing the dishes, despite the focus on local, high-quality ingredients, I just can’t ignore the prices that are over the top for the area – it would probably soar as a restaurant in midtown. Pastas are north of $29 and our chicken, the same sized portion as the “poulet rouge” roast chicken at Barbuto, was $60 – tough to stomach when $15 pastas at Lil Frankies are just down the street.  Price aside, Hearth is a great place for a date with well thought out yet approachable, comforting food – just make sure you’re with someone who’s paying or who’s worth spending a few extra dollars.

Grade: B+
Location: 403 East 12th @ 1st Ave
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Filed under American, East Village, Family Style, Romantic Date, Special Occasion

The Meatball Shop

You wouldn’t think a small shop specializing in one item would blow up to become New York’s greatest obsession since the cupcake and bacon desserts. The two bald-headed owners Dan Holzman and Michael Chernow opened their first place in the East Village just a few years ago, and since then people have been popping in from the tri-state area to get chicken, pork, beef and even vegetarian meatballs from morning until 4am (on weekends) in all three locations. With one conveniently situated.5 miles from my apartment, it’s hard for me to remotely consider the nearby mix of trendy restaurants like Morandi and L’Artusi for meatballs when I can get them at this cozy spot for 1/10 of the price.

sliders

I went last week at 6pm with no problem getting a table, and instead of ordering my usual – the three sliders, all with different balls – I ordered a plate of vegetarian balls with two sides. I chose the market salad and the steamed spinach, but the broccoli and special salad with a creamy dressing, pecans, and radicchio was my favorite. Don’t judge my order – I had a deal with my date that we would trade a ball for ball, so I got a chicken one with mushroom gravy as well. After eating the nut-loaded, someone undigestible vegetarian balls with red sauce, I confirmed that the best part of this place is its concept and ice cream sandwiches. The food is great – no doubt about that – but the success lies all in the simplicity of the clearly outlined whiteboard-style menu that gives you limited variations of one very special food, which makes the process of selecting and circling your order a breeze. The pick-your-ice-cream-and-cookies ice cream sandwiches are ridiculous. Salted caramel and chocolate? Forget about it. Next time, I’m going for the gold – beef (I know…but get over it) with red sauce and cheese on a hoagie, followed by an ice cream sandwich the size of my face.

delish

 

massive ice cream sandwich – just $5!

Grade: A-
Location: 64 Greenwich Ave between 6th and 7th Ave
Website: http://www.meatballshop.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Cheap Eat, Drinks & Apps, East Village, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Vegetarian / Vegan, West Village

Veselka Bowery

Tonight was a bittersweet celebration of my dear friend Kiloran, who’s moving to San Francisco to pursue her dream of getting as far out of New York as humanly possible. Not everyone is as obsessed with this place as I am, I’m learning. For the occasion, our coworker Ryan decided to choose the Ukrainian restaurant Veselka – a place one would naturally choose for a diverse, picky crowd…right?

After eyeing the menu that consisted of borscht and smoked fish, I didn’t get that surge of excitement I usually get in anticipation of trying a new place. I wasn’t the only one silently freaking out about the food either – I witnessed an email battle initiated by a few people voting for a location change – some even dropped out of the party as a result. It’s not an understatement to say that all Hell broke loose over the matter. Let’s just be honest, people don’t generally rave about Ukrainian food (I know I’ll get flack for saying that when I become famous). But in the end, it actually ended up exceeding all of our expectations (the ones who stuck through the challenge).

Firstly, the Bowery location is 10 steps above Veselka’s sister diner just blocks away. The space is huge, completely framed by glass with high ceilings and plenty of space for a crowd.  The familiarity of the modern aesthetic relaxed me, and soon enough I was on my way to having a thorough love affair with Ukrainian cuisine.

cheese blintz

my usual victim: the cheese plate.

Between the array that I had ordered for the table, the cheese blintz and the cheese plate were the stand outs. I would have been perfectly happy with these dairy laden plates on their own, but I had to try the equally healthy fried cheese and potato pierogis with apple sauce and sour cream, the boiled beet and goat cheese pierogis, the smoked trout salad with radish and apple, and a little bit of the Ukrainian feta on brioche that came atop the beautifully arranged veggie board. 

pierogi

smoked trout salad

garbage in a blender…with an untouched hard boiled egg

Had I known I would become stuffed after the first round, I wouldn’t have ordered a cheese burger. A combo of an intense meat craving and a fear of ordering something totally foul (after seeing Kiloran’s garbage bowl of magenta borscht) guided my decision, but with no real regrets. Thick patty, medium rare with cheddar cheese on a sesame brioche bun. Aside from the various Ukrainian chutney-like condiments that I threw on the bun, this was as solidly Americanly delicious as it gets, despite severely missing the red onion. Ryan chose to order the more “authentic” version – a kielbasa burger with thin layers of kielbasa, and a kielbasa and ground chuck patty combo. One bite was just enough for me to confirm that I’d get thoroughly ill after finishing the whole sandwich.

Ukrainian Cheeseburger

Given the celebration, we decided to go all the way and sample a few desserts. Kiloran and I were both blown away by the baked chocolate custard, which in essence was the densest, richest chocolate pudding we’ve ever tasted. The baked kiev was an interesting combo of beet ice cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, and burnt meringue.  Sadly, I’m just now realizing the origin of its name. I can’t say that I’d dream about beet ice cream at night, but it actually tasted and looked just like strawberry.

chocola

chocolate custard

Baked Kiev

Would I choose to go back there? Probably not. Not because the quality of food or service didn’t impress me, or because I didn’t like the feel of the space. It’s simply due to realism. In a city when I can choose from a thousand other restaurants serving the type of cuisine that I seek (namely italian and Japanese), why would I opt for Ukrainian if I’m not a die hard pierogi or borscht fan? Please tell me.

Grade: A-
Location: 9 East 1st Street off Bowery
Website: http://www.veselka.com/bowery

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Filed under Business Meal, Drinks & Apps, East Village, Fun Group Dinner, Parents in Town

AYCD Brunch: Il Bastardo & Poco

I feel sorry for this man.

It took a move across the country to finally understand the true meaning of “Brunch,” which is as iconic in New York as a taxi driver on his cell phone is. Brunch here is no joke – it’s not simply a midday meal to be later followed by dinner. It’s a full-day eating and drinking extravaganza, which makes finding places with drink deals that much more essential. Fortunately, the city is full of restaurants vying for a rowdy brunch crowd, and this month I just so happened to experience two of the most quality and affordable options available.

Il Bastardo packed for brunch

Stop one was Il Bastardo in Chelsea, selected by the Birthday Girl of the moment Lauren Nemeth. Yes, the brunch + unlimited mimosas / bellinis / strawberry bellinis for an extra $20 was definitely a draw, but the main appeal to Lauren and our group of 12 was the promised Drag Queen show as free entertainment. The space is well lit, all white, and very fashionable – a perfect setting for the stylish Chelsea crowd. The brunch fare, which includes panino, eggs, and random italian dishes, however, is nothing greater than standard aside from the endless focaccia. I ordered an omelette, others ordered pasta or cheeseburgers – everything was edible and did the job of lining the stomach for more champagne.

veggie omelette

Most remarkable were the countless bottles left on our table – whereas most unlimited drink spots serve next rounds when requested, Il Bastardo ensured we were never at a loss for champagne nor juices to prepare the mimosas to our liking. What ideal preparation for the giant Drag Queen who stumbled in an hour after we ended our meal? She lip-synched, structured a dance contest for the birthday folk (a woman from Zimbabwe won), did some aggressive stand-up, slapped asses…all the many essential things that take place during a high quality show.

Lauren seconds before a forced dance-off

Overall, for the amount of time we spent in the restaurant consuming hearty food and the copious amounts of alcohol, the average $35 per person was absolutely worth it. Definitely a recommended venue for an affordable and entertaining affair.

Poco front

Poco in the East Village today was just as much of a success, and they also take reservations – a rare trait for brunch in NYC. My SAS (Semester at Sea) friends and I got a table for 5 downstairs, which despite shielding us from the beautiful sun was the perfectly cozy setting for our typical bonding sessions. I prefer the menu here because of its Latin flair – the benedicts are served atop arepas, and the Poco special I ordered came covered with spicy chorizo. It was actually delicious, but next time I’ll have to get the lobster mac and cheese…

poco benedict

The food took over 45 minutes, but the delicious peachy-white sangria was enough of a distraction. Our servers were spastic but efficient when we had the chance to catch their eyes by vigorously waving our hands, and drinks arrived quickly upon ordering. Though Poco lacks drag queen entertainment, I prefer it for its location and laid back vibe. It’s smack in the heart of great East Village shopping and people watching, and right by the park for a good post-carb excess stroll. And, we may or may not have stopped by Puddin’ for dessert…

Sassy Brunch Tradition

Coming up this Saturday I will try the brunch of all brunches in the areas of all areas, Beaumarchais in the Meatpacking district. While I’m confident it will be wild, I’m a pretty positive we won’t be working with unlimited drinks for $30 a person. We’ll just have to see if it lives up to the hype! Until then…

Il Bastardo Grade: A-
Location: 191 7th Ave between 21st and 22nd Streets 
Website: 
http://www.ilbastardonyc.com

Poco Grade: B+
Location: 33 Avenue B @ 3rd Street
Website:
  http://www.poconyc.com

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Filed under Brunch, Chelsea, East Village, Fun Group Dinner

Momofuku Ssam Bar

narrow restaurant

When my friend Austin invited me to her “Pork Birthday Celebration” at Momofuku Ssam, I responded affirmatively right away, ecstatic that I finally found an opportunity to share David Chang’s famous bo ssam (crispy pork shoulder) feast. Despite being Filipino, I am really not a pork lover – in fact, I can’t remember the last time I ordered or cooked any type of pig product, not to mention the whole bacon obsession is beyond me. But this particular pig gathering has been so highly praised in my presence, I knew I had to put all preferences aside and just dig in like a fan – which I did, and regretted more than ever when my food coma finally subsided at 6pm the next day.

menu with least number of courses

Our table of 13 chose the 5 course meal, which at $55 per person, gives you a small portion of raw fish, warm bread with butter and lard, ham and “gravy,” steamed pork buns, bo ssam, and a few giant-sized s’mores. I made the mistake of arriving starving, and after having to wait almost two hours to be seated for our 7:30pm reservation, I was about ready to eat the table cloth. At least we were able to explore the new, albeit tiny, cocktail bar in the back, which uses liquid nitrogen to make a vodka soda. Though you definitely want to be hungry enough to appreciate the food, arriving with an empty stomach is not recommended unless you want to be in the same situation I was when leaving the restaurant (in so much pain that you’re afraid for your life).

There was literally enough food to feed an army, and with all the tasty things that arrived before the grand finale of the pork shoulder, I failed at leaving any legitimate stomach space to really enjoy it. That said, my absolute favorite was his well-known steamed pork buns. While the starters of bread, ham, and raw fish were just fine (still don’t quite understand the bread and lardo situation) – the buns totally filled my void of interesting, hunger-solving food. We also (thanks to Lauren) ordered the bbq buns, which were essentially crispy fried pork with coleslaw in a soft steamed bun. This was phenomenal, and in normal situations, one would be just enough for a solid lunch. But, when in Rome…

corvina

ham with gravy and bread

steamed pork bun

crispy bbq buns - the best

When the pork shoulder arrived I was in shock. The supply of crispy, tender pork meat was endless, as were the delicious sides of oysters, green onion, spicy sauce, lettuce cups, rice, and bok choy. Despite having an entire beer poured on my plate and lap in the heat of the moment, I still had a chance to discover what the hype around this traditional Korean meal was about. It’s the act of not only sharing something so delicious, but also the fun of putting together lettuce cup after lettuce cup with different combinations of sauces.

Bo Ssam

sides

Had dessert notarrived, I would have kept on going. The giant s’more was not what I would recall as delicious. It was composed as a ridiculously sweet marshmellow-y mush sandwiched between two very dense graham-cracker like cookies, which acted as a platform for 3 scoops of sour, labne flavored ice cream. My biggest issue with some dessert chefs is that they feel the need to substitute vanilla ice cream for something totally insane. Why mess with a good thing? Vanilla would have made this dessert amazing, but the cheese flavored ice cream made my lips curl.

s'more

All in all, despite some of my complaints, I would recommend the Bo Ssam dinner at Ssam Bar to any serious pork lover. I have to imagine that there could be nothing better than an endless supply of crispy pig meat to someone who truly loves it. And at $55 a person, the overall experience is quite a deal.

*photo credit to Austin Scott

Grade: B+

Location: 207 2nd Avenue at 13th

Website: http://www.momofuku.com/restaurants/ssam-bar

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Filed under Asian, Barbecue, Drinks & Apps, East Village, Fun Group Dinner

Cafe Orlin…then Peels for dessert

Today Sonia and I had an impromptu brunch at Cafe Orlin, a bustling, straight-forward, American/Middle-Eastern East Village restaurant that never fails to form a line of hungry patrons outside its door. Surprisingly, though, at around 12pm today we were seated after only five minutes of waiting outside, albeit at a tiny table sandwiched between others. The brunch menu covers all my must-haves: huevos rancheros, mediterranean breakfast, veggie burger, eggs florentine, and lots of omelettes. Once I saw a few plates go by, I settled on the Middle Eastern Eggs, which came with two eggs (I added mushrooms and tomatoes of course), israeli salad, and labneh cheese. Sonia ordered the Tunisian Eggs – two eggs over easy with spicy tomatos and peppers.

perfect breakfast

Sonia's eggs

fluffy pita

Despite the several rooms packed with diners, our meals were served promptly. Warm pita, perfectly cooked eggs, and hot tea – exactly my wish for a Sunday brunch. While it’s straight-forward and the ambience is nothing spectacular, I will definitely be back again if in the area for a solid, no-frills meal.

Then of course, after watching Unique Eats’ expose on the bakery at Peels, I of course stopped off on my way home to try their famous 3-in-1 pie, a cross between Boston & Banana & Coconut cream pie. And after literally eating every last bite of it, I think I can fairly say it’s one of the best pies I have ever had. The crust was perfectly crunchy and dense, the dark chocolate was rich and light, and the caramelized banana flavor was unreal. The combination was indescribable – 100% recommended for those, like me, who define themselves as sweet-obsessed.

Amazing.

Grade for Orlin AND Peels dessert: A

Location (Orlin): 41 St. Mark’s Place between 1st and 2nd Ave
Location (Peels): 325 Bowery, New York NY 10003

Website: http://www.cafeorlin.com

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Filed under American, Brunch, East Village, Erin's Favorites, Middle Eastern, Sugar Surge

Maharlika – new location

Having had brunch at Maharlika’s East Village pop up location, I had no doubt that I would leave their new spot sufficiently satisfied after trying their dinner menu tonight. I was able to plan my full course of action thanks to the Grub Street article posted minutes before my departure, but nothing could have prepared me for the massive feast I was about to take on.

As opposed to the mini French brasserie they inherited with the brunch location, the new space screams Pinoy warmth and love. Family photos and cookbooks adorn the shelves next to a display of bottles of classically ocean-flavored sauces. Every detail is comfortingly Filipino.

bar

Glancing at the menu once more, I sipped a deliciously light and refreshing gin cocktail subtly sweetened with a housemade strawberry jam while snacking on crunchy deep fried chicken skins, better known as “chicharones.”

Menu decisions were made quickly, but we waited patiently as the chef carefully and thoughtfully prepared our home-cooked meal – though once one dish appeared, the rest soon followed. We decided to go the full nine yards and order almost everything that appealed to us: the arroz caldo, the sauteed water spinach, the fried chicken, the crispy pork leg, and the braised oxtail. Everything comes out as its ready and is served family style with a side of white rice, ideal considering the size of the main courses.

fried chicken leg

David Chang, take your pig’s head and move aside. Maharlika’s Pata Confit is the next big thing and the most straight forward interpretation of crispy fried pig I’ve encountered. Rather than being deep fried, this huge pork shank is seared in its own fat and served on the bone with a skin so unimaginably thick and crunchy that you seriously just have to taste it to understand. Along with the light vinegar sauce and the garlic rice, this pork confit is a quintessentially decadent yet well rounded combination of classic Filipino grub.

crispy pork cut table side

braised oxtail with bok choy

The house special Kare Kare, the oxtails braised in peanut butter with eggplant, long beans and bok choy, was also on a whole other level. With the rotating tastes of the silky peanut butter, the sour vinegar, the crispy fried skin of the chicken and the pork, and the soothing warmth of the creamy rice porridge, I calmly stepped into a zone of simultaneous sense of adventure and familiarity of the Filipino culture I so often try to evoke at home.

good word to know here

I can’t wait to come back to Maharlika – this will no doubt be a once a month spot. I commend this restaurant for making such a foreign cuisine approachable while keeping its true (fishy flavored loving) essence and irregularity at its core. Total genius, and this heartwarming crew deserves the successes that will follow as a result.

Grade: A+

Location: 111 First Ave @ 7th Street

Website: http://www.maharlikanyc.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, East Village, Erin's Favorites