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PIg and Khao is AWESOME

This new Asian/Filipino spot recently opened. Top Chef's Leah Cohen is owner/chef ( her mom is Filipina), is there every night overseeing every meal that is cooked and expediting orders. It is located in the old Falai space on Clinton St. I was recently there and the place was packed. The sizzling sisig was excellent , as was the mango salad with chicken breast, and the coconut rice. The quail adobo was unbelievable. The crispy pata was delicious, but not served the traditional way , on the bone. Nonetheless, a fantastic dish. I watched them prepare other nice dishes , of mussels, a grilled pork jowl dish, a lamb dish and Khao Soi. they even have halo halo or turon .
The service is excellent. The staff very friendly. Basically, the place is awesome.

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  1. hmm very interesting, close to my place

    1. NY1 did a very complimentary piece on Cohen and the restaurant this morning; link is here - http://www.ny1.com/content/lets_eat/z...

      1. I'm dying to try it. No desserts?

        10 Replies
        1. re: H Manning

          I didn't have room for dessert, but they have turon and the most popular Filipino dessert halo halo
          I read the link Phil Ogelos posted above, i didn't know they were associated with the Fatty Crab folks. I personally don't like the food at Fatty Crab, but the food here is excellent and mostly Filipino food.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            As soon as I heard they serve pancit palabok I tried to assemble a group immediately for my annual birthday serving. Sadly no dice, but I may have to make an exception for another helping of heart attack on a plate quite soon. Did the Filipino dishes hold their own against the Thai elements in the menu or were they lacking that lasang pinoy?

            1. re: JungMann

              I ate at the bar, but i had a choice of a table if i wanted it. I prefer the bar, since there were 2 of us. I like communicating with the staff , who cook in front of you. The menu changes, possibly daily , i'm not sure. They didn't have palabok or any kind of pancit when i was there. The Filipino dishes had " the right taste". They use the same suka most Filipinos use, Datu Puti. The owner's mom corrects or helps with fixing the taste right. Their liver sauce is fantastic. The quail adobo was perfectly seasoned. They hold their own , on the dishes i had. Although I like eating crispy para off the bone, not filet of crispy para, but non Filipinos, probably prefer it the way they do it. I went late on a weekend night.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                What does suka mean in Tagalog? In Malay, it means "like," as in to like something. Is it a condiment?

                1. re: Pan

                  Suka is the Tagalog word for vinegar. Filipino food is usually presented with a variety of condiments for dipping and enlivening dishes. Suka at bawang (vinegar and garlic) is one of the more common options.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    Some varieties add onions, hot pepper and garlic. Datu Puti makes a really good one. At Maharlika i usually ask for some chopped chills to add to my suka.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      And bawang is the generic word for onion in Malay, though bawang putih ("white onion") means garlic. Thanks for the explanation.

                      1. re: Pan

                        There are several foods in the Philipines that are similar to those in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China etc. and i think have similar names i.e. Kang Kong ( water spinach)

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Yep, that is the same name.

                          I used to go to Elvie's Turo-Turo, and a lot of her food was similar to the village food I used to have in Terengganu, on the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula, in the 1970s, except that her food wasn't halal and she served pork and pork sausage.

                  2. re: foodwhisperer

                    One or two of the press releases I got prior to opening were talking up the chicharron and shrimp noodles -- I'm going to have to hope they've maybe kept it on the menu as a special or under some hipsterized name. Of all Filipino dishes, I've got to think that pork crackling noodles with head sauce has got the makings of a future trend.

                    And thanks for the write up. The crispy pata and liver sauce sound mouthwatering.

            2. Did you have to wait for a table? I'm thinking about trying it tonight but I've read about horrible wait times.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                So, I called and asked about how long the wait would be at around 8 or 8:30. I was told there would probably not be a wait. We arrived and were given a choice of being seated at the bar immediately or at a table in 10 minutes. We liked the idea of bar seating better so were happy with that. We ordered 2 small and 2 large plates, plus an order of coconut rice, for the 2 of us, and we were stuffed. The quail, sisig and whole fried fish were delicious, the lamb good but a bit heavy and lacking in flavor, still a good dish but just not up to the level of the others. I would love to come back and try more dishes. Sitting facing the kitchen added to the experience.

                1. re: rrems

                  Glad you enjoyed. The quail adobo and sisig they do a great job. You should try the crispy para, even off the bone, it does have a lot of flavor. The coconut rice is really good. Was the owner expediting the orders?

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Next time I will try the para. Yes, she was right in front of us running the kitchen, very efficiently.

              2. Great reports on this thread. I hope to try Pig and Khao soon.

                Fyi, Jeepney, another Filipino restaurant from the owners of Maharlika, will be opening soon (tomorrow?) at 201 First Avenue (12th Street).


                15 Replies
                1. re: Tommy D.

                  Jeepney will be more traditional than Maharlika, and trying to attract a different audience. Its in the old Sa Aming nayon spot. They will have a nice back yard. They also bring a well known chef with them. Should be good. The link also shows, El Faro closing. They were on Horatio St. way back when nothing was there. 85 years and closing.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    The Jeepney teasers make it sound like the restaurant aims to be as flamboyant as its namesake vehicles, like a Manhattan Pork Slope, but it would be a great relief if they went traditional. Manhattan lost a rare taste of the Philippines when Sa Aming Nayon closed. Do you know who the chef is to be?

                    1. re: JungMann


                      >>>Chef-partner Miguel Trinidad collaborates with Daniel “Chino” Parilla, Minetta Tavern sous-chef and a consultant here, on dishes like fried-fishbone salad, chicken-fat wings, and a longga burger made with skinless sausage, Kewpie-Maggi aïoli, and banana ketchup.<<<

                      1. re: Tommy D.

                        That does not sound traditional. That sounds like what happens when I come home drunk and raid the fridge.

                          1. re: Tommy D.

                            It's funny what gets lost in translation. Now that I've read the Filipino names, the menu sounds ambitiously traditional. The Luzon tamales have got me very intrigued. This is the first restaurant outside California I've heard of serving up Filipino tamales and in a style quite different from the Ilocano tamales I know.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              I wouldn't know what traditional is but my Filipina girlfriend thought it was ambitious of them to offer pinakbet.

                          2. re: JungMann

                            LMAO on the raiding the fridge.
                            Jeepney is supposed to be traditional, but the menu will leave out many traditional dishes. Sa Aming Nayon, did not have good food. It was supposed to be food from Baguio, but the chef was not from there , nor did he know how to make the food from there. Their Pinakbet was horrible. Jeepney can make the old Sa Aming Nayon spot nice if they fix up the backyard and maybe enclose it for winter. Tito Rad's is the best in queens, especially for the sizzling sisig and the lechon kawali and the dinuguan. The adobo is very good there, and Filipinos eat adobo in restaurants often. The quail adobo at Pig and Khao is excellent with the perfect adobo taste.
                            Tonite I had the Vietnamese fried oysters in a white pepper sauce at Pig and Khao. Crispy and excellent. I ate other things as well. But this was a good dish. They did not have any pork crackling noodles , nor did they offer palabok, or any kind of pancit The Vietnamese coffee I am happy they have.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          I wasn't impressed with Sa Aming Nayon, the time or two I went. For example, their adobo was too strongly and one-dimensionally vinegary to me. By contrast, I had adobo at a restaurant in Sunnyside that was subtler, made with better chicken - just better.

                          1. re: Pan

                            Which restaurant did you go to in Queens? I'm of the opinion that few Filipino restaurants bother with their adobo because most of their clientele would rather make/eat it at home. The reason Sa Aming Nayon stood out, though, was because they offered a variety far beyond just adobo, much of it done well, when options for Filipino were otherwise pretty bleak in Manhattan. And to be honest, those options are still pretty weak, which is why Jeepney is conceptually interesting for going original with Pinoy-American comfort food. It's a concept that has worked in other cities, but they'll be the first folks to do it in NYC.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              Tito Rad's - Woodside, not Sunnyside. We had chicken adobo (the same dish I had at Sa Aming Nayon). I am not a maven of Filipino food, but I found its flavors perfectly balanced.

                              1. re: Pan

                                IMHO well not so humble, Tito Rad's has the best Filipino food in the city. Excluding BBQ, Ihawan has the best Filipino BBQ. That being said, The sisig at Pig and Khao ( if you ask them to add a few chills) compares with Tito Rad's. The thing I like about Pig and Khao , is you are not limited to only Filipino food. You can mix it up with Thai Khao Soi ( not as "soupy" as I've had in Chiang Mai), or some fried oyster in a Vietnamese white pepper sauce, or the lamb ribs ,,,I have no idea what style of cooking the lamb ribs are, it actually tasted very Middle Eastern or Indian, with a yogurt sauce and pickled beets on the side and some Naan. The food is very well prepared , and as I said, I recommend this place highly.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  Thanks for drawing Pig and Khao to my attention, foodwhisperer. We've just had a wonderful dinner there: pork jowl (we were a party of 3, had to order it twice), quail adobo, mussels, lamb ribs and fish. I would definitely go back shortly should I live in NY.

                                  1. re: Ffromsaopaulo

                                    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I like all the dishes you ordered. If you get back there try the sizzling sisig, the fried oysters, the crispy pata, and the khao soi, and green papaya salad. All really good too.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Good to know about the other dishes. We wanted the crispy pata, but unfortunately they were out of it.

                    2. Pete Wells gave two stars each to Pig & Khao and Jeepney. I must try balut.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MrGrumpy

                        I tried to reply but it kept bouncing back. If I end up with 3 replies, i'm sorry. Balut at Jeepney as well as Maharlika attracts people who are drinking that want to try something that looks pretty scary. The taste of the juice inside is good, but getting past chewing a fetus is rough. The burger at Jeepney , although , you'll never find it in the Phillipines, tastes really good. I think the Malabok is really Palabok. It's a seafood pasta with squid ink, the faste is also good but the style is different.
                        Pig and Khao, has great Khao Soi and great sisig, as well as crispy pata. The lamb that Pete Wells liked , taste good, but for me Middle Eastern flavor doesn't go with this type of food.
                        I am happy that they both got 2 stars. I enjoy both places.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          I need someone to walk me through the menu at Jeepney because I never walk away understanding the high praise for the Maharlikans. Maybe I am ordering the wrong things, but I feel like any restaurant targeting the deep fried demographic should be able to serve their crunchy foods actually crispy. Especially when they spend so much time winding a tale just to explain how delicious it will be when the crisp lumpia shell gives way to a soft pork filling, which mingles soufully with the sweet and sour flavors of banana ketchup. Perhaps everything just goes soggy while they are explaining how to eat a spring roll.

                          The malabok is a mash up of pancit malabon and pancit palabok. That's the dish I wanted to order (along with the dinuguan), but my guests went in another direction. I have plans to visit Pig and Khao this weekend (provided the weather cooperates) so I'll try to steer our party towards your recommendations.

                          1. re: JungMann

                            Ahhh so they mixed malabon and palabok to form the word malabok. I should have thought of that. I know malabon is usually wetter than palabok and bison, But anyway , I have my doubts on the dinuguan at Jeepney. Grill 21 dinuguan is decent but inconsistent. Tito Rad's has good dinuguan. The arroz caldo at Jeepney if you had it, I am sure you thought " what is this?" it's more like a pudding, I don't recommend that.
                            At Pig and Khao, the chef/owner Leah Cohen's mom is Filipina, so the chef does get help in the Filipino food from her mom. The quail adobo has "the right taste". The cripy para, is different from usual , in that they take the meat of the bone. The dish is very tasty and plentiful. The sizzling sisig is very good ( not very large size). The green mango salad is very good. They usually have dried salmon chips, they are excellent, a Filipino favorite.
                            The chef spent time in Thailand and Vietnam, and her Khao Soi is good, and the fried oysters have a Vietnamese lemon pepper sauce is real good.
                            Pig and Khao now has on weekends, a Filipino brunch. Based on the Filipino Christmas meal I had there, they have pancit bihon, lechon kawali, bbq, ticino, lumpiang shanghai,Sinigang, and more. So the brunch should be good.
                            They have a fantastic version ( everyday) of halo halo. I highly recommend that dessert.

                      2. I've been meaning to visit Pig and Khao for a while, but it's been impossible to get reservations at a reasonable hour for dinner. This weekend, however, I got lucky. There's not much I can add that foodwhisperer hasn't said already. The khao soi and pata were great, although the sisig has to be my favorite dish on the menu. If there was anything I had to complain about, it would just be the rip off that is the $15 draft beer service, considering the drafts didn't work and once they run out of beer, you're out of luck regardless if you've had one or one hundred. Portions are also smaller than I expected, but this is only a problem for group diners.

                        What I especially liked about the place was how confident it was without having to sell itself. Service was low key, but attentive. Dishes were served straightforward and casually served and though I know they had a full night of bookings, I didn't feel rushed when we lingered a little longer on some courses and drinks. I will definitely be back.

                        1. Awesome indeed. We ordered about eight dishes loved everything, particularly the sisig and crispy pata. The delicious turon was served with salted caramel ice cream. Nice vibe, friendly service. We'll be back for the khao soi.

                          1. Pig & Khao now has a five course tasting menu for the unbelievable price of $39. Recently they served:

                            soft boiled quail egg
                            house dressing
                            crispy garlic

                            grilled octopus
                            charred green chili sauce

                            sizzling sisig
                            whole egg
                            coconut rice

                            pork adobo
                            sous vide egg

                            halo halo

                            So much food, all very delicious. My only quibble was the repeated ingredients, i.e. egg in the amuse, sisig, and adobo, and pork in the latter two dishes, but otherwise the tasting menu featured a nice sampling of their specialties. Enjoyed it and we'll definitely return.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MrGrumpy

                              I suggest you try the fried oysters, khao soi, crispy para. These are my favorite dishes.

                              1. re: MrGrumpy

                                We were lucky enough to get 2 seats at the counter and order the tasting. So delicious across the board. Only comlaint woul dbe how salty the pork with brussel sprouts was. Way over dressed as well. The halo desert was excellent. Had to dry clean my entire outfit after as we stunk!!

                                1. re: princeofpork3

                                  The pork with brussel sprouts is a dish I never had there. Mostly I stick with sisig, crispy pata, fried oysters, khao soi and halo halo. The dry cleaners is always the next stop. My Korean Bbq meals alo get my dry cleaners extra business.

                              2. So I just got back from a great meal at Pig & Khao this past weekend and wanted to give everyone an update.

                                As usual, the Sisig, Crispy Pata, Khao Soi, and coconut rice are absolutely delicious. They're definitely the all-stars of the menu in my opinion and dishes I look forward to coming for.

                                Whats nice about this place is they are always tinkering with the menu. It had been several months since my last visit so I was happy to see nearly 4 new dishes (by my count) on the menu. They were the papaya noodle salad, Burmese eggplant, shan noodles, and chicken inasal.

                                A lot of these dishes are different than their normal Philippino offerings, and since I was sitting at the kitchen bar, I was able to talk to Chef Cohen who was expoing. Turns out she had recently come back from a trip to the Phillipines and was able to spend some time in Burma. She loved the food and Burma and wanted to incorporate some of the dishes she really like into the menu. It's great to see things are changing and improving.

                                Overall, I'm happy to say that Pig & Khao has really hit its stride and is turning out some really really flavorful food. The place was definitely busy on Saturday night. One table was eating the whole pig and it looked absolutely delicious. I'll have to try that the next time I go with a party of four... it looked like a lot of fun

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: MarcDC

                                  Nice! We haven't been since April, but I'm glad that it's staying busy and still putting out great food. Leah has been there every time working her butt of. I wonder if they got all their financial troubles sorted?

                                  1. re: loratliff

                                    I actually asked her how things were going since they split from Fatty. She is absolutely thrilled to have that entire chapter behind her. A lot of vendors stopped working with her over a year ago simply because Fatty was involved with Pig and Khao and Fatty's other restaurants owed a lot of people a lot of money. She said her relationships with her vendors couldn't be better and that she was able to get people back that had stopped working with them. Maybe that's why the food is so good now!! Haha.

                                    Seems like they're in a MUCH better spot and even the tone of her voice perked up when I asked about it. Sounds like things are truly clicking on all cylinders over there. Definitely head back to check it out!

                                    1. re: MarcDC

                                      That's really good to hear! We will be back soon.

                                  2. re: MarcDC

                                    btw i thought at one point she was supposed to leave the restaurant? i guess that never happened?

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Thanks for reminding me to go back here, MarcDC.

                                      Friday night 4 of us ate and ordered too much. It was really good. Chef was working the pass, as per usual. It looked like a few of the cooks were different than a year ago, but no surprise.

                                      The crispy pig's leg is great. Now that summer is (almost) over, I've got to put this back in regular rotation.

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        At one point the Fatty guys were firing Leah. But She fought the "big guys" who used her and drained the money. She got her own financing and , kind of bought them out. Fatties are no longer involved, its all Leah's place. She is awesome. Ben the head chef is awesome too, even if he is a Phillie's fan.
                                        Btw the new Burma noodle dish is very good. Fried oysters are always awesome.

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          Are fried oysters off menu now? I didn't see them, though I wasn't a fan when I first had them a couple years ago. But everything else we had suggested she has hit her stride since my last visit last year. Shan noodles were spicy and aromatic. Ribs are a bit dry, but that sauce is bone licking good especially with her spot on slaw. Now just need to get that cast iron pan hot enough to actually crisp the sisig at the table and I am a happy camper. If she made a dinuguan as sharp and assertive as the other saucy dishes I might just move in.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            The ribs were, indeed, our least favorite...specifically because we thought them dry.

                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              The oysters are sometimes on the "specials" menu. Sometimes I ask for them and it's off the menu but they have fresh oysters and make them for me. They have always been excellent. I love that sauce she makes. It's the same sauce she learned in Viet Nam for another dish that I saw her learning on youtube.
                                              IMO the pieces for the sisig are cut too big. They used to be smaller. And I agree the cast iron needs to be hotter. And give me some lemons too, to squeeze. I like how Tito Rad's puts a paper bag over the cast iron , so it cooks at the table without splashing hot oil on you.

                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                Had the fried oysters tonite, delicious. The sisig was as good as it gets. And those Shan noodles delicious. The back room is enclosed now. New people firing up the food. Chef Leah Cohen overseeing it all. Still Awesome.