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May 10, 2008 07:07 PM

Best Filipino restaurant in Queens?

I was thinking about it and realized I don't think I've ever been to a Filipino restaurant. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for the best place in the city, preferably Queens. Thanks.

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  1. I've seen some places in Sunnyside, such as Uncle Tito's ,but I think the place to start is the block of Roosevelt in Woodside between 69 and 70. Lots of places there. My favorite is Renee's. But many people prefer other places. Oh, I forgot... I've heard good things about Engeline's, a few blocks away at 58 St.

    A few months ago there was a long discussion on the Manhattan board about places in Manhattan. But I think Queens is the place to start.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Brian S

      Thanks Brian. I noticed Pistahan was discussed here and plan on trying that one too, but figured Queens would have some better places (at least when Chef Ray is not there). I'll go to Renee's this week for sure.

      1. re: Taylor.Watson

        I know this is an old thread. Since then Lourdes has closed, Fiesta and Engeline are both looking for cooks. In Manhattan Pistahan has closed. Cendrillon is now in Brooklyn under name Purple Yam.
        In any case, I went to Renee recently. The BBQ pork was good, probably because they are related to Ihwawan , who has the best BBQ. That being said, the sizzling sisig was horrible, too livery tasting and old tasting, with no chills or calamansi. Basically no good flavor. I know it is a dish that everyone prepares differently but I would avoid this at Renee.
        Tito Rad's IMO is by far the best Filipino restaurant in NYC.
        Far superior to the new Manhattan places i.e. Maharlika, Jeepney. And much better than any place in Queens.
        I have not tried Purple Yam yet.

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I had the kare kare at Tito Rad's the other day and it was just too much overpowering tripe aroma for me to really get into. I don't mind some tripe or a bit of funk smell, but it wasn't a good fit for me.....The oxtail was fine and a decent portion though... What are the best dishes here?

          1. re: Silverjay

            Inihaw na Baboy, or grilled pork belly. It's excellent. Comes with a nice vinegar sauce. The tuna belly is also a good way to go. They offer it up in different portion sizes, which is nice.

            1. re: Silverjay

              Usually the kare kare I have does not have tripe in it. Strong shrimp paste and hopefully not too much peanut butter.
              The best dishes in my opinion at Tito Rad's is the lechon kawali, the sizzling sisig is so good, the palabok, the dinuguan,
              The tuna jaw called ini haw na panga ( but get small size, the big one is from giant blue fin and too big), Crispy Pata is excellent, their Ginataang Langka is good if you like jackfruit,
              Most Filipinos like the dessert called Tito's Delight. Its a mix of many things.
              Christmas time the whole roast pig ( lechon) is fantastic. They get orders for over 100 pigs on Xmas. I think the pigs they use are around 40 lbs.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Went back and this time had the sizzling sisig with an egg and the ginataang langka. The sisig was diced a bit smaller than I like and both my dining partner and I found the meat a bit too dry. It wasn't bad by any standard but I wouldn't order it again...Neither of us had ever eaten ginataang langka before. We both really enjoyed this- especially with the dried fish mixed in...I'm never here in late December but maybe I'll arrange for a whole roast pig sometime as I'm occasionally responsible for arranging group dinners. How many does it feed and what is price range? Does it come with anything besides meat?

            2. re: foodwhisperer

              The sisig at Mana Meena's looks great and by all accounts is. I've yet to make it there.

        2. There is no single best restaurant. It all depends on what you kind of food you are looking to get. If you are absolutely unsure, start with Crystal's Cafe or with Engeline's: they not the best in anything, but they do everything properly. First get familiar, then specialize.

          1. Ihawan for BBQ.
            Renee's for non-BBQ (though it does BBQ very well -- ay, the tocino!)
            Tito Rad may be the best all around.

            1. My choice would be Mama Meena's in Woodhaven. I've had the kare-kare in many of the Queens Filipino restaurants and Mama Meena's may be the most peanut-buttery so that may not work for everyone. The sizzling sisig is excellent too as is the bopis, lechon kawali, and most of the vegetable dishes.

              I've never had a kare-kare with tripe in it. Renee's does a seafood kare-kare with a pungent shrimp paste but it couldn't be confused with tripe. that used to be my favorite dish at Renee's but last time I was there (last week), it was mediocre. I think Renee's BBQ is equal to Ihawan but the dish they now seem to excel at in Renee's is the crispy pata.

              Full disclosure -- I haven't been to Payag or Tito Rad's. there are too many good Filipino restaurants but I'll have to get to Tito Rad's based on the comments here.

              1 Reply
              1. re: el jefe

                I have not been to Mama Meena's, but I will try it. I also have not been to Purple Yam ( formerly in Manhattan as Cendrillon). Cendrillon wasn't really authentic, it was more fancy style.
                Payag is not really too good. They try to make Filipino food into a very upscale style and it just doesn't work. Their sizzig is not sizzling , their lechon kawali isn't what one is used to, no dish is how you would expect it.
                Renee's as I said had good bbq, but nothing else was good.
                Tito Rad's remains the best in my book. Although it might not work for some tastes as the food is from the South,but I think Filipino people understand very well how dishes vary , such as dinuguan having more or less vinegar, levels of spiciness etc.
                Try Tito Rad's and let us know what you think.

                1. re: mellinlikethefruit

                  Tito Rad's is great but I'm not a fan of their chicken adobo. It's one of my least favorite renditions and lots of bone shards.

                  Their sizzling sisig is delicious. Their grilled chicken is ok. Lechon kawali is yum yum.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Just ate there the other day had great dinuguan, palabok, pinakbet, lechon kawali and tuna jaw. Excellent.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      Yeah, their dinuguan is the boooomb. I always get an extra order to take home.

                      1. re: mellinlikethefruit

                        I do the same, always take home some dinuguan. They make it so well.

                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                        You sold me at dinuguan and palabok. I haven't had any good restaurant versions of either in NYC. How are their chicharon bulaklak and lumpia?

                        1. re: JungMann

                          I haven't had the chicharon bulaklak but the lumpia is great. Not too crispy, not too soggy.

                          1. re: mellinlikethefruit

                            Are you talking lumpiang shanghai or gulay? I've noticed the Maharlikans serve shanghai that is neither crispy nor soggy, which I don't like. Lumpiang gulay can be a little softer, but I prefer lumpia skins with a satisfying crunch.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              Alright you're getting too technical for me...but they definitely have a satisfying crunch.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                Maharlika used to have crispy lumpiang shanghai. They were 3 times the size of the usual that you see. But they used to come in fresh and made by one of the waitresses there. I don't know how they are lately, as I haven't been there for some time.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  To be honest, I don't remember the lumpiang shanghai at Maharlika. Google leads to something they call lumpiang barquillos, which look like the beef lumpia my mother used to make. The fried foods at their other restaurant, Jeepney, were so disappointing on my last 2 visits that I'm reluctant to give them a third chance.

                                  Good to hear Tito Rad's knows how to properly operate their deep fryer. It's as important a skill in Manila as it is at the MN State Fair! I generally avoid sariwa in the city as every placed I've tried it serves it with a sickly sweet peanut sauce. Both the Tagalogs and Ilocanos in my family make a sharp garlic soy sauce tempered with sugar and peanuts for sariwa. I'm actually making it for a picnic this weekend and plan to hit up Tito Rad's for dinuguan and whatever else the board recommends next.

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    The lumping sariwa your family makes sounds quite masarap.
                                    The service at Tito Rad's has gone downhill since they expanded. Today I decided to try Kabayan ( queens blvd, woodside). I think they opened next door to Tito Rad's to get TR's overflow.
                                    I will re-evaluate Kabayan when I go back again. The dinaguan was very good. The palabok didn't have enough flavor or enough sauce. The Lechon kawali had some good pieces but the ones without fat were dry and overcooked. The ukoy was not crispy at all, i don't recommend that dish.
                                    The crispy pata was very good.
                                    The sizzling sisig had a lot of flavor, I think it's a good dish there but not as crispy as the same dish at Tito Rad's.
                                    Their rice with shrimp paste and mango was good.
                                    The menu has a lot of choices. They have 7 different pancit dishes. They have several sizzling dishes. I want to try their sizzling seafood dish next time. They have Bulalo , a dish I like, hopefully they make it right. They have a couple of goat dishes.
                                    I believe the chef is from Batangas but I'm not 100% sure.
                                    I'll try it again, and report back. Btw they deliver.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      That's a shame regarding Tito Rad, I really liked them before they expanded. I visited shortly after expansion and the food and service were both spotty.

                                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                                        When I poked my head into Kabayan, a waitress mentioned that on Wednesdays and Thursdays they offer hands-only banana-leaf meals. I've heard of this as a special at one other Filipino restaurant in New York; do any others offer it as a matter of course?

                                        Dave Cook

                                        1. re: DaveCook

                                          The handy style of eating with ones hands is called "kamayan" in Tagalog, a verb meaning to use one's, "kamay," hands. Doing a Google search of kamayan nyc, I see that Ugly Kitchen also has hands-only night. For those looking for a kamayan experience in Queens, I believe there are advertisements for hands-only nights on the door of the Phil-Am Mart, though they might actually be coded advertisements for Dan Smith Will Teach You To Play Guitar.

                              2. re: JungMann

                                I haven't had their blaklak either, but the lumpiang shanghai and
                                lumpiang sariwa are very good at Tito Rad's