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where is best Filipino food in manhattan

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where is the best authentic Filipino food in manhattan

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  1. bayan cafe

    1. There are several good philipino places on 2'nd avenue in the 20's. the names escape me at the moment. I will post them after some phone calls. but please try Cendrillion on 45 Mercer st. in Soho. 212 343 9012.Amy and Romy has taken phillipino food to the next level. Please have the Mango tart.

      10 Replies
      1. re: currymouth

        There is only one Filipino restaurant in that neighborhood: Grill 21. It's a delicious and inviting affair that attracts a lot of non-Filipino clientele as well (of course being toted along by homesick Pinoys). If I had to rate the Manhattan restaurants, it'd be:

        1) Cendrillon
        2) Pistahan (when Chef Ray is there. Otherwise it drops down to 4)
        3) Grill 21 / Bayan Café (tie)
        5) Elvie's Turo-Turo

        1. re: JungMann

          When is Chef Ray at Pistahan (or, rather, when ISN'T he)?

          1. re: Pan

            I'd give them a call to see if Ray is in the day you want to go. I'm not certain if he keeps a general schedule.

            1. re: JungMann

              Good idea. Thanks.

              1. re: Pan

                what should u order at pistahan? i went there and i thought it was alright, but nothing to rave about. I'm by no means a filipino food expert so i may have just been ordering the wrong dishes (i had the chicken adobo)

                1. re: Lau

                  If you're a gutsy diner, go for the Kare-Kare (oxtails and tripe stewed in peanut sauce) or Dinuguan with bagnet (blood stew with crispy pork). Both are fantastic renditions of Filipino classics. Otherwise the grilled tilapia in banana leaf gets lots of raves, lechon kawali is good (though lumpiang shanghai in the platter leave a little to be desired) and ube ice cream is the perfect closer.

                  As I've warned before, the food really does depend on who's in the kitchen. When Ray is around, the food is better than anything I've had in Queens. When he's not, it's nothing special.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    ok thx for the recs, any idea what days he's in or how to figure out whether he's in? the guy that was there last time was pretty english challenged and i know zero tagalog

                    1. re: Lau

                      That's strange. Educational instruction in the Philippines is in English, so I've never encountered a Filipino with language problems. Try calling the restaurant when you're thinking about going or asking if Ray has a schedule. The waitresses are American-born so they definitely speak English.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        ok thx...yeah i thought it was strange, i mean he could sorta speak english, but if u got more than basic with him he gave me that blank look and didn't really know what i was talking about

          2. re: JungMann

            Thanks for the recommendation of Pistahan. I spontaneously went there with a friend tonight for dinner. We had the special baked tilapia with crispy squid (like pork rinds and fried in lard) and the chicken adobo. The adobo was delicious and the fish was good fish well baked and reminded me greatly of baked fish I had had in rural Malaysia (specifically, the East Coast of the Peninsula, where I used to live), though that would have been minus anything cooked in lard. I liked the food very much and will definitely be back.

        2. My vote is for Bayan Cafe in Midtown if you want traditional food. Their kare kare reminds me of my mom's. I've never been to Cendrillon, but I've heard really good things about it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ZerlinaVania

            Bayan Cafe has good kare-kare that I have recommended before, but I prefer mine with tripe and a little more veg, the way it comes at Pistahan. Dragonfly made an excellent version before they closed.

            You should definitely visit Cendrillon at some point. It is a cleaned up version of Filipino food, getting rid of the processed detritus of post-WWII cookery and Amy is a wonderful woman and a font of knowledge when it comes to talking food.

            1. re: ZerlinaVania

              I went to Bayan with my Filipina friend, who is an excellent cook. Her review was it was definitely authentic , with a very friendly staff . The pig ear was excellent( i dont recall name of dish), the ponsit was just OK it had no spice to it. The Duneguan (sp) was excellent, very authentic and made well. The kare kare tasted good, the meat was perfect, but she found the sauce much thicker than back in Phillipines. She told the chef it was too thick, he said next time he'lluseless peanut butter. The vegetables in coconut milk, i found to be delicious, she said back home it's usually spicier. Many Visayan clientele, my friend is from Manilla area. I thought it was really good especially those pig ears. I thought the denauguan was better at Pistahon. I think i would like Cendrillon based on all of your reviews, but i think my friend would have problem if she thinks it is going to resemble back home.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                I don't have much to benchmark against but I really do love the food at Banyan!

            2. So how do the places you guys have listed above compare to places in Queens like Renee's and Engeline's?

              On Renee's: www.chowhound.com/topics/247324

              1 Reply
              1. re: Brian S

                I finally tried Renee's based on your commentary. I loved my lunch of kalderetang kambing. Lumpia sariwa was just okay. Their focus is very much on home-cooking, though that doesn't necessarily mean good cooking. And the room is a bit undermaintained. Because execution is lacking in some aspects and decor leaves a lot wanting, I'd say that Renee's ranks just below a place like Grill 21. If you want a place that does un-fancy home-cooking well, I'd still send you to Pistahan.

              2. Agree with others about Cendrillon--the chicken adobo is fabulous.

                1. Grill 21 and Elvie's are my vote for the best Filipino restaurants in Manhattan.

                  The food at Bayan are not anywhere near the quality of the afrementioned ones and are too fast-food in style and taste for me.

                  eg

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Elvis Goldberg

                    For what it's worth, we went to Grill 21 and did not enjoy it. It's a cute little restaurant, and the service was fine, but I hated some of the food. We ended up throwing away the leftovers of binagoongan (pork and eggplant in shrimp paste), which is very rare for us. The bistek was good, lumpiang sariwa was OK and dessert (lychee cream?) was very tasty. It was too mixed an experience for us to be likely to go back.

                    1. re: nashville2ny

                      Try it again! I have had only great food there and I certainly know what's good and what's not-after all I am DA MAYOR

                  2. I've been to Cendrillon twice since i posted the original. The food is consistently good. Authentic or not, i the ribs are great , the fish was great, the buko pie was great ,, the lumpia was very authentic and good. and the atmosphere is excellent. Pistahon was more authentic but Cendrillon is a better dining experience.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      I am glad you liked it, Romy was going to close the resturant and move to NOLA just before the hurricane, even signed the lease for the spot. The Filipino foodies, and aren't they all, rallied around the place and the I believe the food got even better.

                      1. re: currymouth

                        Yes the food is great at Cendrillon, i'm glad he didnt move. I think most people in NYC hear Filipino food and are afraid to try it ,,, but I think anyone going to Cendrillon will like the food

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          They also have a book out, called "Memories of a Philippine Kitchen". It's not so much of a cook book , but instead, is a a travel log, with stories and the history of the origins of philippino cusine. you might enjoy it.

                          1. re: currymouth

                            wow,,,awesome Thanks Currymouth

                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                        Cendrillion is a joke! Just had dinner there with a couple friends who've never tried Filipino Food.. Thought it would be a safe introduction for them. I ordered ukoy, lumpiang shanghai, bisteak ($27!!!), lechon kawali, bbq ribs (bad idea) and my favorite - kare-kare. Ukoy was not too bad, lumpiang shanghai was far from authentic as were the rest of the fare. I would NOT recommend this place to anyone, nor will I be back. It was as if they tried too hard.. Why not make a nice Filipino restaurant without the 'frills' of having it be 'fusion'? I'm moving to NYC from the Bay Area and hope to find some 'real' Filipino food like at home... Oh and btw.. All dishes are over $20!? Are you kidding me? The portions are nothing to rave about either..

                        Just my .02

                        1. re: jrmstr33

                          I kinda agree with jrmstr33, filipino food should be expensive, $27 for a "bisteak" is so much, considering that you can get away with the cheapest steak cut of meat for this dish, just pound it away to tenderize it. It is really the taste or the seasoning that makes it the bistek of the philippines. I want to sound funny and say that the best Filipino food in manhattan can be found across the river from the Holland Tunnel, in jersey city, or in 69th st in Queens. How about EAYC for like $8.95 for like15 dishes?
                          Fusion!! I think they use the word to jack up the prices, every dish is fusion anyway, somebody along the way must have put their own style in the food they picked from their travels. Like Marco Polo, putting his own spin on noodles and we have pasta, or the arabs bringing their unleavened breads in Southeast asia and it becomes popiah or lumpia or even empanadas! or curry puffs. how about dumplings becoming raviolis?
                          aren't those all Fusion foods?

                          1. re: openonymous

                            My "MISTEAK", Filipino foods should "NOT" be expensive!!!! Is hwat I tried to write, but... the finger is faster than the mind sometimes.

                          2. re: jrmstr33

                            Filipino diners are a surly lot since we are a nation of foodies with an opinion about the foods we hold dear. And should that food deviate from tradition, the chef has hell to pay! I talked to Amy about their "fusion" take on Filipino food and she told me that their recipes are mostly traditional for Romy. Only a few recipes have been tweaked with modern updates as far as lightening dishes and using a little more chili. So while I might not go to Cendrillon for comforting Tagalog or Ilocano dishes, I know there are a few things I do enjoy while other Filipinos might think the whole lot is authentic. And I know that for the Americans I've taken there, it's a very non-threatening intro to Filipino cuisine. Prices are, unfortunately, commensurate with rents in SoHo. As always, you've got to pay for location in Manhattan.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              I agree with you, JungMann. I've seen Amy Besa talk about Filipino food over at the Asia Society, and she knows her stuff. It's just that husband Romy is probably doing his riffs on classic dishes -- and what's wrong with that, right? It's just like Danny Meyer doing his renditions of classic American dishes. I must admit that my first foray into Cendrillon left me with every other Filipino's usual sentiments -- "what is this stuff?! It's tasty, but I want real adobo, kare kare, etc." Then it dawned on me that maybe that WASN'T the point.. and of course it all made sense after all. Again, you're right in pointing out it's a non-threatening intro to Filipino cuisine. I hear that if you want the real stuff, you can call ahead and ask for it -- and if you're nice they may just cook it for you.

                            2. re: jrmstr33

                              I'm coming into this kind of late, but we moved here from SF a couple of years ago... If you are looking for food in Manhattan as good as what you'd find in Daly City, you're gonna have a long search ahead of you. As far as Cendrillon is concerned, no their food is not authentic, and I could see how you would be disappointed if you walked in expecting your mom's cooking. However, I found the presentation beautiful. The lumpiang sariwa (fresh lumpia) was excellent when I went recently.