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Mar 27, 2009 10:16 AM

Best Filipino Food


I am in search of the best, authentic filipino food around. Price is not of importance, as long as the food is delicious. I'm excited to hear your responses. Thanks in advance!

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  1. There aren't many options in Manhattan. Grill 21 on 21 St is good. I haven't been to Banyan Cafe on 45 St. They are both small.

    Your best options is 69 St in Woodside, Queens. Krystal's, Perlas, Renee's and Ihawan are within a block of the 69 St station on the 7 line.

    9 Replies
    1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

      definitely Ihawan; sometimes you just gotta travel a little bit! Krystals in east village is alright in a pinch.

      1. re: bigjeff

        Didn't Krystals in EV close more than 2 years ago?

        1. re: EGoldberg

          yes, i remember attempting to go there shortly after it closed.

      2. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

        I've been to Banyan -- I have no other experiences to compare it except for a place in Soho that I sense was less authentic and I can't remember what it was called.

        That said, I really enjoyed the food and I went with my Filipina co-worker who goes there three times a week. It's the only place she eats Filipino food and she swears by it as being the closest taste she can get to home.

        So I can vouch for the taste to my American palate and she can vouch for the authenticity I suppose.

        1. re: Sugar

          What did you order at Banyan? I am curious to try it too... if you have any recommendation please let us know..

          Ah.. the place in Soho was called Cendrillon... I heard it has recently moved from Mercer Street in Soho to Brooklyn.... I used to like going there but I had a few bad experiences (i.e. food not good) so I stopped going. I think the waitstaff seemed unfocused and was always very slow even when the restaurant was not busy.

          1. re: bearmi

            bearmi, i read recently that cendrillon has closed, too.

            1. re: cimui

              they are re-opening in ditmas park or thereabouts, opening may 2009, more casual, less "soho"; wonder what population is gonna be eating filipino food around there tho!?

              1. re: cimui

                they are re-opening in ditmas park or thereabouts, opening may 2009, more casual/homestyle, less "soho"; wonder what population is gonna be eating filipino food around there tho!?

              2. re: bearmi

                Yes, cendrillon, that's the one.

                let's see at Banyan I definitely ate some crispy fried pig's feet/knuckles -- those were good, a bit dry. And had a whole fried fish in a sweet and sour sauce. Sorry I don't remember the translations.

          2. ambiance, i don't know much about filipino food, but i'm responding to try and wave down jungmann, who does know a thing or two, and to give this important question a bump up on the board.

            i've *heard* grill 21 is pretty ok for basic fare. does anyone know if that's still open?

            3 Replies
            1. re: cimui

              Sorry - I've been very busy late, but tonight's Choice Eats event has brought me back to Chowhound looking for recommendations!

              Options in Manhattan are very limited for Filipino food, which has been a boon for developing my small-time catering business, but annoying when you want a quick meal. Your choices:
              1) Elvie's Turo-Turo: Quality has dramatically improved under the new management. Food is less greasy, however flavors lack the punch of salty, sour, sweet that Filipino is known for. I don't think they take their time with stews to really develop layers of flavor. Best options are kakanin, lumpiang shanghai or ginisang munggo. Avoid complicated dishes like kare-kare, dinuguan or halo halo.
              2) Grill 21: Ambiance, friendly staff, good food, what's not to love? I haven't been through the entire menu, but the cook/mother turns out the kind of hearty, flavorful dishes you know she's raised a healthy family on. When I am craving a good home-cooked meal, this is where I turn. Highlights: crispy pata, chicharon bulaklak, binagoongan.
              3) Bayan Cafe: Good food, but small space and limited hours. They are predominantly a lunch-time restaurant for Midtown office workers with a cheap lunch special. Flavors are good and has earned some loyal fans in the neighborhood. Best options: kare-kare, dinuguan, sisig.
              4) Kuma Inn: With Cendrillon gone, this is as upscale as it gets for Filipino fusion. The flavors are sort of there, but muddled into a Southeast Asian mélange in dishes like lechon kawali, pancit bihon, shumai or lumpia. The adobo, however, remains true to its roots and is a worthy special to try.

              Queens has many more options and I do find myself making the trip there at least once a month. Ihawan does just absolutely mind-blowing barbecue, the Phil-Am Mart sells terrific homemade longaniza and Krystal's is wonderful for lighter-than-air ensaimada or a leisurely merienda. You might post your question in the Outer Boroughs for more specific answers, but in general if I want Filipino food and don't want to cook, I find myself assembling meals from the this-and-that of the other countries that contributed to the evolution of the modern Filipino diet: butsi and siopao from Mei Li Wah, hopia from Lung Moon, cocido at Despaña, ukoy from Katagiri, kangkong from Fatty Crab. Even if there isn't a mind-blowing Filipino restaurant in the borough, one of the benefits of so international a cuisine is that all the component parts are still accessible.

              1. re: JungMann

                will definitely have to borrow your last paragraph there; would make for a great potluck!

                1. re: JungMann

                  *high five*
                  very nice write up, jungmann. thanks!

              2. I'm still trying to figure out what the best filipino food in manhattan is too...Grill 21 was decent. Never been to Banyan....Kuma Inn is fusion-y but yummy.
                I'll tell you what is not the best in manhattan though.....Elvie's Turo Turo....on 1st and I think 13th? I've been there before, and its been passable...but last week I had a meal that was just disappointing. Kare kare that had no real peanut flavor, the color was right and the consistency wasn't watery...but there was no taste at all. And the oxtails were few and beyond fatty in between. The adobo was super salty. The rice was mush. Also, $9 for lumpia shanghai seems a bit excessive. Even if you get 16 pieces..why isn't there a smaller portion?
                They've always had good halo halo though....
                I kinda miss the Krystals in the east ville....

                3 Replies
                1. re: missinfo

                  Rent in E. Village is too expensive now. Elvie's is too expensive. Pistahan has closed. Dragonfly in W. Village has closed. An enterprising Filipino should open a turo-turo truck or cart on First Ave.

                  1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

                    thanks for that update; wow, didn't know pistahan had closed; that's crazy!

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Grill 21 is the best Filipino in Manhattan. Pistahan right before it closed was really bad, it once was good. Elvies is bad and very little food. Banyan is not too good. Cendrillion had some good dishes but was by no means authentic. Grill 21 although not owned by a Filipino ( he is married to a Filipina) does a good job. You can always cross the river and go to Red Ribbon. Or the other river to Manny;s

                2. Definitely check out Bayan. NB. it's not "Banyan" - my wife laughed at me for about two weeks after she heard me make that mistake.

                  The Kare Kare (oxtail stew in peanut sauce) is phenomoenal, one of their best dishes. Obviously they do a great Adobo (or else they wouldn't even be allowed to remain open.) I also like their Mami Soup and Arrozcaldo.

                  The only downside is that it's not cheap. For such a small place, they do charge quite a bit. But as far as the food goes, we've always been happy.

                  Cendrillion was a joke. No wonder it closed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                    the sisig at Bayan was excellent. The peanut sauce on the kare kare I thought was too thick . Try grill 21. I agree that Cendrillon wasnt the real deal. The owner was a nice guy though , who had French cooking experience , so i guess he was doing his thing. But Grill 21 is best Filipino food ive had in manhattan. Manny's bakery is ok in queens,, and Red Ribbon has good ponsit and great cakes in NJ,, home cooked is still best

                  2. Update: I came across a new Filipino restaurant which just opened in Astoria called Philippu. The chef's kalderetang kambing was made with the traditional goat and served in a very rich broth that tasted of hours of slow cooking. As we were at a tasting event I didn't get to try much more, but having spoken with the chef and tasted some of his cooking, I have high hopes for my upcoming visit.