By Marivir R. Montebon
The New York Filipino Restaurant Week is just around the corner. There is more to Filipino cuisine than lechon and lumpia. We are smorgasbord.
New York City – The Filipinos are truly a fascinating people, and one proof of that is their wide array of sumptuous dishes they are so naturally able to offer any friend or stranger who comes to their homes. On the New York Filipino Restaurant Week, which is on May 14 to 26, 2018, you have to sample on superb Filipino dishes, which is a delectable fusion of our ethnic, Spanish, Chinese, and American influences. It is time to taste everything, not just lechon (Spanish), pansit (Chinese), and fried lumpia (Chinese). Filipino chefs here have so much to offer.
- It is the fourth year for the Filipino Restaurant Week in New York, and it has expanded to New Jersey and Philadelphia as well.
- There are currently 25 participating restaurants for this year’s Filipino Restaurant Week. From a handful of nine starters in 2015, trailblazer Nicole Ponseca of the Jeepney and Maharlika restaurants in Manhattan, said she’s delighted to see the participants grow to 25. These are: La Parilla de Manila, Max Restaurant, Noodle Fan, Pinoy Filipino, Flipsigi, Grill 21, Kabisera Kape, Kuma Inn, Maharlika, Mighty Bowl, Ugly Kitchen, Sisig City Food Truck, Ibis Eats, Mountain Province, Chef Dino Luciano Pop Up, Purple Yam, Swell Dive, Talde, Tama, Tito Rad’s Grill, Phil-Am Kusina, and Perla.
- While Philippine cuisine is known to be carb-heavy and oily, contemporary chefs are making conscious effort to use healthy, organic, non-GMO materials in their delectable dishes. Executive chef Jaffy Diago Afzelius of Tsismis New York Restaurant and Talde chef Dale Talde are not just being innovative, they’re also into providing great healthy food. DJ Chinita of Kabisera Kape says they provide healthy juice drinks such as ginger honey lemon.
- The famous Pansit, which is of Chinese origin, gets into a healthy dimension at Talde restaurant in Brooklyn, which a dash of spice.
- Ugly Kitchen opens its doors to the exciting Kamayan, otherwise known as boodle fight in military parlance, with an array of seafood and pork dishes. In Philippine tradition, washing of hands is a must before digging in with fun.
- Sisig City raises its chicken sisig to high heavens. And there’s more, like the Kare-kare puffs and the Kaldereta kabobs.
- Talde in Jersey City and Brooklyn, one has to taste the S’mores halo-halo and mango pie.
- FlipSigi on the Upper East Side, chef Jordan Andino, boasts of being the original Filipino Taquerio. One has to try its adobo-rito at least.
- At the Mountain Province, the desserts are to die for: Cassava Cake, Bibingka, and Ube ensaymada and go so well with its freshly brewed coffee from the Philippines’ Mountain Province. It is the real taste of home.
- At Purple Yam in Brooklyn, one has to try the duckleg adobo in mulberry vinegar.
- The media launch of the Filipino Restaurant Week at the Philippine Center was a combined effort of the Philippine Consulate General New York, the Department of Tourism, Philippine Airlines, Tanduay Asian Rum, and GMA Pinoy TV. Lucky diners in the 25 restaurants will have the chance to win a round trip ticket to Manila, three night hotel accommodations and a culinary tour, and concert tickets at Barclay Center.
- The Filipino tradition of not picking the last piece of food on the plate is actually a thoughtful act. Deputy Consul General Kerwin Orville Tate enlightened an excited, salivating bunch of media guests at the launch with a cultural note on the last piece (of chicken adobo, fish, whatever) that is never picked up by a Filipino. Why? Because it is the shame piece, so no one touches it. But beyond the superficiality of hiya (shame), not eating the last piece of delectable food is actually a thoughtful gesture. “You save one last piece for some guest who may come in late and is so hungry,” the acting head of post said. “It is an act of consideration,” he said, quoting his mother. Lesson learned: subconscious thoughtfulness. (Featured photo is Mountain Province’s delightful desserts: ube, cassava cake, and ensaymada)