For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…
For most Americans, a dish of pork belly, cheeks, ears, and snout does not sound like a terribly appetizing one. But for most Filipinos, this is a dish they grew up with.
I’ve written more about Filipino food than I expected to on this blog. I’ve come to quite enjoy the sour/sweet/savory flavors of the food. And who can resist the rich fattiness from a deep fried pork foot?
Maharlika (which refers to feudal warriors) opened last year as a temporary (or pop-up) brunch destination and has since expanded to an East Village all-day hang-out bringing traditional Filipino food to a hungry and eager-to-experience hipster audience.
This place had been on my list for months and months and I’m sort of amazed it’s taken this long (I did try their delish hot dog at Googa Mooga). Even though most tables sat empty our entire meal, we were relegated to the tight quarters of the bar since we didn’t have a reservation.
Our bartender was pretty awesome, giving recommendations and pronouncing every dish without hesitation (he was clearly not Filipino). BBQ Pork, skewered and glazed with a tangy banana ketchup, started the meal. We also sampled the pureed eggplant known as Puqui Puqui dotted with blistered and sweet cherry tomatoes. I quite liked the dish for its simplicity and smokiness and its similarity to baba ganoush. However, it may have seemed a bit bland next to all the other hearty flavors.
The sisig came out on a very hot cast-iron pan, sizzling indeed. The food runner quickly broke up an egg and mixed it seamlessly in with all the pork parts.
When mixed in with the pungent garlic rice, the sisig was full of textures. Some of the pork pieces were chewy, some were crunchy, and some were fatty. It did not suffer from a lack of richness and had a nice acidic backbone. However, I prefered the more refined version at Purple Yam. This one was a bit too unctous for my tastes (which may be the point).
I can’t end my discussion of this food without mentioning my favorite dish here, which was a special version of chicken and waffles. Their fried chicken (which is darkened and crispy) is paired with ube (purple yam) waffles, topped with some anchovy butter, and drizzled with coconut caramel. It’s traditionally served at brunch, but I’ll take it any time of day. Even without the addition of a single pork part.
Would Maharlika’s Sizzling Sisig make my Top 100 of the Year? Those with a tendency for pork parts might like it more, but I found it just a little over the top compared to other versions. It gets a 7 out of 10, but the chicken and waffles are a whole other story!
|111 First Avenue (between East 6th and East 7th Street),