East Village is known for the hustle and bustle of the real NYC and as the setting for the the musical RENT. It is also the global stage for showcasing the vibrant Filipino food scene in New York.
We recently had the privilege of going on a food trip along 1st Avenue--starting with Happy Hour at Ugly Kitchen, dinner at Maharlika, and cocktails at Jeepney.
Here's a photo essay of our Filipino Food Trip in New York...
Ugly Kitchen is actually a great marketing ploy for a gastropub serving Asian Fusion and Filipino Food. It manages to grab your despite the competitive food scene in New York.
103 First Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: +1 (212) 777-6677
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, Dinner, 5pm-12mn
It was awesome to meet with Global Filipinos: Tita Bing Cardenas Branigin from Washington DC, Eric Macalma from Dallas, John Victoria (known as the Filipino SEO Guy) from Maryland, and Carissa Villacorta of the Global Filipino Watch campaign.
We immediately felt the warm welcome, their Filipino pride, and love for Filipino food as we devoured Crispy Pata and Sisig over drinks.
Maharlika's facade is hardly noticeable as you walk along 1st Avenue. It doesn't have the screaming branding other restos tend to have.
MAHARLIKA Filipino Moderno
111 1st Avenue, New York
Telephone: +1 646 392-7880
Monday to Thursday 11.00am to 11.00pm
Friday to Saturday 11.00am to 12.00mn
Sunday 11.00am to 10.00pm
The place is buzzing and patronized not just by Filipino diners but people from all over. It's hard to get a table during the peak dinner hours so make sure to reserve.
I love how Maharlika is unapologetic about the Filipino culture and actually embraces our nuances, like the use of vinegar and Maggi sauces.
Inihaw na Pugita ($13). Grilled octopus, pickled mango + jicama, bagoong, toasted coconut + cilantro oil.
For our appetizer, we tried the octopus with a Filipino salsa of pickled mango, singkamas, and bagoong.
Not a typical Filipino dish but is bursting with Pinoy flavors. The octopus meat is tender and fun to eat one small slice at a time.
Thanks to Carissa Villacorta of Global Filipino Watch for organizing this Filipino food trip!
I was surprised that their Kare-Kare was very good and even better than the ones in Manila. It has a rich sauce, big chunks of meat, and a balanced flavor even with the bagoong.
They say that the serving size is good for one (considering the big American portions) but it can actually be shared by 2-3 people.
The sinigang also has a rich miso-based sauce and is served with a thick layer of salmon. You can taste the sourness but with a rounded, balanced finish.
They had to replace their award-winning Pacquiao Punch because of his anti-gay comments. They now serve The Filipino Flash cocktail.
At the back of the restaurant is a board featuring the Tagalog Word of the Day. I love that they also promote our language to New Yorkers.
Get this leche plan for dessert, which is sure to invoke memories from your childhood. It's very comforting and will make you forget that you're in New York.
After dinner, we decided to hop on to Jeepney for their signature cocktails. The place is also known more for its younger bar crowd.
201 First Avenue, New York, NY
Telephone: +1 (212) 533-4121
Dinner: Monday to Sunday 5pm
Boozy Brunch: Saturday - Sunday 11am - 3.30pm
Jeepney was packed with Millennials seated by the bar counter.
I love how their entire ambiance and design promotes Filipino pop culture.
Sabang Beach Cooler ($14). Gracias o dios mezcal, kalamansi honey, lemon, sea salt, smoked chipotle, rum.
I'm in Love with the Coco ($15). Rum, coconut water, coconut liqueur, lime juice, cinnamon syrup, and coco lopez.
Their cocktails were a bit expensive (in Pesos) but they're worth it, especially if you're looking for a good drink to to cap off a food trip.
It was awesome meeting New York-based Filipino interior designer Ina Pineda, who shared tips on what's in and what's out in NY.
Jeepney is popular with the younger crowd for their Bone Marrow shots and Balut shots.
I've never been so proud to be a Filipino in New York! I love how tight the Filipino community is here. You can really feel the Bayanihan spirit alive.
The ambiance brings you back home to the Philippines, at least while you're dining. I was surprised how the Filipino food here could sometimes be even better than the ones in Manila.
Our bill in Maharlika was about $53 without drinks, which is close to how much we would pay in a good restaurant in back home +20% tip. Drinks are quite expensive, so best not to order or just save them for a very special moment.
Congrats to Nicole Ponseca and Enzo Lim for showcasing Filipino Food and Filipino-inspired cocktails in New York and beyond!
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: We paid for our meal. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. I loved the #GlobalFilipinoWatch from Philip Stein that Carissa and Ina were wearing that I bought one as a gift for Rache for Mother's Day. :)
Thank you to Philip Stein for creating an awesome limited edition #GlobalFilipinoWatch!
Listen to Will Stein's remarks about the Global Filipino Watch by Philip Stein.
Philip Stein is looking to find 612 #GlobalFilipinoHeroes who will own the #GlobalFilipinoWatch and support a non-profit school called Mano Amiga (Helping Hand) in the Philippines.
The campaign runs for 62 days to help 220 students of Mano Amiga in time for the next school year and before June 12 (Philippine Independence Day).
Lynn Pinugu, the Founder and Executive Director of Mano Amiga is also flying in from Manila to personally acknowledge the support of the Filipino American community to this #GlobalFilipinoHeroes campaign.
Mano Amiga Pilipinas is a Manila-based non-profit school which provides scholarships and sustainable livelihood to low-income families in the Philippines so they can break out of poverty.
You may view the collection here: www.philipstein.com/philipsteincares