I started practicing for Thanksgiving (by expanding the capacity of my stomach) weeks ago, meaning that I’ve had some pretty amazing (and expensive) dinners lately. My training started off at Pig and Khao, former Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen’s Asian (mostly Philippines-inspired) restaurant on the Lower East Side. Kater came with me for the sixth installment of “Global Bites without the Flights.”
As the name suggests, Pig and Khao is heavy on pork and that was just fine with me (I Like Pig Butts and I Cannot Lie). We decided to do the Chef’s 5-course tasting menu instead of having the burden of choosing ourselves, which gave us the added benefit of having some dishes that weren’t on the menu. The downside was not always knowing what we were eating.
The first item brought to the table was an amuse-bouche, some combination of foods inside a spoon, to be eaten as one. We could not hear the gentleman who dropped it off so we just went for it, not knowing what it was. Both of us noted that it tasted familiar but could not identify the flavors.
The second item was fried oysters which were very plain and are not on the menu, possibly for that reason. The oysters did not fit in with the rest of the meal, flavor-wise, and it was the only dish we were not impressed with.
The next dish may have been a variety of the Grilled Pork Jowl on the menu – pig cheeks, with Brussels sprouts, lemongrass, mint, and pork rinds. This was definitely one of our favorites.
We may not have understood the tasting menu correctly because we thought the next dish was going to be the entree – our fourth dish. This was the Sizzling Sisig, right off the menu – pork head, chili, whole egg – and was my favorite course of the evening. It came out as its name indicates, sizzling and crackling, with an egg in the middle of the plate which we were told to spread out and mix with the pork while the egg fried. It would have made a perfect entree and specialty dish, but then, to our surprise, we were brought out more food.
Our actual entree was the menu’s Green Rice Crusted Dorade fish, with cockles, chinese sausage, and yuzu dashi, a mandarin-like fruit broth. I typically prefer shellfish to fish fish, but this was a good light white fish, covered in green Rice Krispies to give it a crunch which I didn’t expect.
For dessert, a ginormous Halo-Halo was served. It is a traditional Filipino dessert of shaved ice, leche flan, ube (purple yam) ice cream, macapuno (coconut), and pinipig (the crisped rice). We were encouraged to mix it all up into a soup but tried each component individually first. There’s no way we could have gotten through even half the bowl after all that pork, but it definitely was delicious and refreshing.
Check out Pig and Khao if you like different pork dishes and huge helpings of ice cream. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the tasting menu, you never know what you’ll get, and you may even have an unexpected course. Next time I will be ordering the Sizzling Sisig again and will then try their take on the traditional dishes of Pork Belly Adobo and Crispy Pata (pig knuckles).
Just don’t watch Babe before you go.
PS – Help people affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines here.