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Sa Aming Nayon: new Filipino on 1st Av & 12th...

...in what used to be Wai Cafe: has anyone tried it yet?

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Sa Aming Nayon
201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

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  1. I had a quick dinner there last week and have been meaning to go back for a more in-depth meal. I had a very tender order of paksiw na lechon, leftover pork roast braised in sweet soy sauce. It was good, but I also saw other tables brimming with large platters of pancit and airy bean sprout fritters (ukoy). Those would be a much better test of the kitchen's skills.

    From what I've seen, they are an upgrade from the Filipino restaurants which used to dot this part of the East Village until the neighborhood changed (a vegan used my visit as an occasion to yell at the apologetic waiter and take offense at Filipino cuisine's celebration of pork and seafood). They offer some regional specialties you don't often see in Manhattan (Bicol express, chicken inasal, batchoy), service was spotless and they have a garden in the back that looks like a promising spot for summertime halo-halo or palamig (fruit coolers).

    1 Reply
    1. re: JungMann

      Thanks, JM! It sounds quite promising. But WTF was a vegan doing in a Filipino restaurant, for gosh sake? I mean, besides making an ass of theirself?

    2. Went w/ a couple friends last night and split a bunch of stuff. It's a step up from Elvie's that used to be across the street which was cafeteria style. The menu is more extensive than I expected. There's a lot of choice here, unless you're a vegan or strict vegetarian, in which case, don't bother coming here because even the vegetable dishes have small amounts of pork or bagoong in them. I wasn't familiar enough w/ one of the dishes to remember its full name but basically it's the longest name on the menu.

      Food:
      Bicol Express: pork simmered in coconut milk w/ bagoong (anchovy paste) and chiles. Could've been spicier so ask to make it spicier. Even w/o the heat that usually accompanies this dish, I'd still order this again. Mix the gravy w/ the rice and chow down.

      Ukoy: shrimp and squash fritters. Not bad, but if you've ever had Purple Yam's ukoy, this one won't impress. Lacked flavor, but the included vinegar sauce spiced it up.

      Camaron Rebosado: Fried shrimp w/ sweet chili sauce. Not bad, but I wouldn't call it a must have. The shrimp are on the small side. Once they get their liquor license, I could see this being a pulutan type of dish you'd eat w/ beer.

      Rellenong Talong: Eggplant stuffed w/ beef or pork, dipped in egg and fried. This was our vegetable dish! Pretty good actually, but watch out for bits of cartilage from the meat.

      Ginataang something something something: Fried pork in coconut milk w/ shrimp, onions, garlic and chiles. This was spicier than the Bicol Express which was a pleasant surprise. It was also very good. Mix the gravy in w/ the rice and enjoy. I'd order this again.

      Inihaw na Pork Belly: grilled pork belly w/ atchara (pickled papaya). The atchara would cut the richness of the pork belly except they didn't have any. Luckily, the spicy vinegar sauce served the same purpose. I'll have to try their lechon kewali to decide which pork belly dish I like more.

      Alcohol: they're working on their liquor license so they don't have the advertised beers or wines listed on their menu.

      Service: Inexperienced, but friendly. They're new so they're still working out the kinks. I mentioned it to the owner so hopefully they'll step up their game soon. For ex., we ordered drinks, but they weren't immediately served and we had to ask for them after they started serving the food, which came after a longer than average wait. Also, they didn't automatically fill the water glasses. We shouldn't have to ask for them to be refilled, but we did.

      It was rainy last night so we didn't get to sit in the patio out back, but I'd come back again to try their other offerings and the desserts.

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      Sa Aming Nayon
      201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      17 Replies
      1. re: GoodGravy

        Do they serve dessert? The desserts at Purple Yam were amazing, and so I'm curious to try other Filipino desserts in Manhattan.

        1. re: Riverman500

          Yup, they serve desserts and fruit juices, some squeezed and some from a can. No Sarsi though. Don't expect Purple Yam level prep and presentation. This is closer to home style cooking, similar to Elvie's except it's not cafeteria style.

          We didn't try dessert, but only because we were too stuffed to fit it in.

          1. re: GoodGravy

            Thanks. Now I'm curious to try Sarsi!

            1. re: Riverman500

              Sarsi is sarsparilla soda, hence the name.

        2. re: GoodGravy

          Thanks, GG! Think I'll hit it up today...

            1. re: GoodGravy

              Will do! What do you thnk of Purple Yam? I went once, had a bunch of different dishes (pork sliders, chicken adobo, a very nice salad, an app I can't recall), and came away relatively unimpressed but for the salad, which I thought was excellent. I was friends with a Filipino family a few years back when I lived in Park Slope, and shared a few outstanding traditional meals with them. The husband made a dynamite bbq pork belly, charred on the grill with a sweet soy dipping sauce, and the wife made a fantastic chicken adobo. I think I much prefer homestyle to fancified. The husband opened the short-lived Sariwa in Windsor Terrace: I don't think the neighborhood was ready for that kind of food at the time, tamed-down as it was.

              1. re: howdini

                Here's what I wrote re: Purple Yam - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6690...

                In short, I liked Purple Yam, but like you mentioned, it's fancified by the prep and presentation. The siopao was fragrant of coconut and stuffed w/ sweet & savory pork w/ some lightly pickled veggies to offset the sweetness and provide contrast. The lechon kewali was crispy and melted like butter. The bistec was the more fancy skirt steak cut and was salty and lemony. Purple Yam is like going out to eat while Sa Aming Nayon is like home cooking. Some of Purple Yam's Chinese-inspired dishes left me flat, but their desserts were better than the home made versions.

                1. re: GoodGravy

                  Thanks for that...I'll definitely go back and try some other dishes.

              2. re: GoodGravy

                I tried it last week, didn't have much time to eat, so I had a quick dinner of Ginataang something something something, as you so wonderfully put it. Tasty, but had a funkiness that I wasn't totally into, and the fact that the shrimp were unpeeled was kind of annoying. Still, not bad, and I will definitely go back soon to try some other dishes.

            2. re: GoodGravy

              Was the ukoy crispy? I have been meaning to try theirs on my next visit as it's my favorite snack when made right: really light and crisp with a fresh oceanic scent from adding shrimp liquor to the batter. If they don't have their liquor license yet, does that also mean they're byob?

              Riverman, Sa Aming Nayon does have desserts. The halo-halo looked pretty tasty, not to mention gargantuan.

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              Sa Aming Nayon
              201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: JungMann

                Thanks - halo halo would be good this summer!

                1. re: JungMann

                  The ukoy was crunchy, not crispy. Purple Yam's was light and crispy. Sa Aming Nayon's is heavier and crunchier.

                  Also I think you mean ginataan, not gargantuan.

                  1. re: GoodGravy

                    No, I do mean gargantuan. The halo-halo I saw was good for two people, if not three.

                2. re: GoodGravy

                  Thanks for the update. I assume the food is all prepared in the kitchen so you just order from the menu? I kind of liked the "cafeteria style" set up at Elvie's because I can see what the each of the dishes are, since I am not very familiar with Filipino cuisine.

                  1. re: bearmi

                    Yup, you order off a menu. Elvie's was a turo turo (point point). The menu gives you a decent description and lists the main ingredients so you can figure out if it interests you. Just remember, filipinos don't really do vegetarian and don't do vegan at all. Even vegetable dishes usually have a little pork or shrimp in them.

                    1. re: GoodGravy

                      Thank you for the clarification. Fortunately I eat pork and shrimp so I am ok but it's nice that you pointed it out in case I visit with friends with diet restrictions.

                3. The Bicol Express was very delicious. I was very happy with that dish. I plan to return to try more things soon.

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                  Sa Aming Nayon
                  201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                  1. Tried it yesterday for an early dinner.
                    The Bicol Express rocked. Also had the sauteeed Stringbeans-with-pork-and-shrimp and it was comfort food galore. Friendly ambiance and good service.

                    1. Is it BYOB, if no liquor license yet?

                      1. I wish I could say my experience was as good.

                        I also went with a large group, only in our case we nibbled on what was extremely poor food, left a lot on our plates, and declined to order more. It was essentially home cooking, if you were invited by someone who doesn't really know how to cook everything they promised, and didn't want to spend too much money at the store. Some of our party who are Filipino had eaten there before were very unhappy with the off night. Basic dishes like lumpia were absolutely wrong, filled mostly with thick unevenly chopped, uncooked carrot sticks.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sugartoof

                          I had the same experience. Way overcooked grilled meat, rice and condiments like bagoon missing from my takeout order. Service seemed a bit uninterested.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            What did you get besides the lumpia? I agree that the restaurant is essentially home cooking. The trendy blogs are making it out to be the harbinger of a new Filipino culinary renaissance. It's not. It's some winners, a few losers, though more of the former in my experience. I haven't had anything that has bowled me over, but with my expectations in check, I can rely on them to deliver pretty decent basics. Service during my last visit, however, was more than a bit aloof, though very obsequious once I finally got their attention.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              The service is alright. It's not fine dining, and they really try. It's informal, and almost charming. In reality, I'm not sure they know how to run a restaurant.

                              Overcooked grilled meat sounds about right. We had about a dozen dishes, and sampled every category on the menu. Nothing was particularly appetizing. I mentioned the lumpia, because like the Tsitsarong bulaklak (which wasn't exactly right either), it sends off alarm bells that they can't do basic staples correctly. Mind you, this didn't taste like a regional difference, so much as Filipinos in the US, selling subpar food.

                              From what I can tell, small orders, maybe even just a single dish, do better here.

                          2. this sounds cool, ive noticed this place several times, will have to try it out