My friend Ash, a food blogger in her own right, heard about Pig and Khao (get it? cow?) from her sister, who must have a Google alert for the words “pig face salad” to have found out about this place so fast. We detoured from our already-scheduled dinner in Ktown last night and headed to the Lower East Side instead to catch this Filipino/Thai collaboration between former “Top Chef” contestant Leah Cohen and the Fatty Crew (of Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue) on its second night in business.
Cutest pig butt ever, am I right?
The promise of bottomless tap beer in the garden was tempting, but I couldn’t resist this Phuket Punch, a blend of prosecco, grapefruit-cinnamon syrup, and mint. The first note was biting citrus, then came the warming cinnamon, and finally the light, refreshing wine.
The tap was having a tantrum when we arrived, so my friend Kim ordered a Tiger lager instead and sipped it from a bowl as instructed. (The tap began working later in the evening, and the staff offered to let Kim have at it, too. Bonus!)
green mango salad
Succulent, slightly charred chicken over a lemongrass slaw where mint and cilantro were the stars, with a little bit of lime and plenty of ocean flavor from the tiny dried shrimp that flecked the plate.
A classic Filipino dish that Ash called “pig face” but that the menu more delicately labeled “pork head”. Hot dishes with a raw egg to mix in happen to be a favourite of all three of us lady-diners, so this was an instant hit. It smelled like the barnyard, but it tasted like bacon wrapped in foie gras. I loved the blend of meaty chunks and melt-in-your-mouth fatty chunks.
We ordered this to have a dish with some sauce, but we might have been better off with the khao soi recommended by our server. The sauce was indeed the point of the dish with its extremely spicy red pepper flakes, but the steak itself didn’t quite work for me in the context of a wrap. It was too tough for me to tear with my teeth, so I ignored the bibb lettuce and ate it with fork and knife. This is the one dish I would skip next time.
This was another dish Ash wanted to compare with the ones back home in the Philippines, and we were all pleasantly surprised that it arrived off the bone and fit for rabid consumption with soy sauce and liver dipping sauces. There were juicy, meaty pieces and dessicated crispy pieces and crunchy skin with an inch of fat still attached. Heavenly.
The point of Filipino food for me is the halo-halo, and this one will keep my tongue lolling for a while. Ash pointed out that the ice in your everyday halo-halo is crushed and therefore a little trying to eat; this shaved ice went down smooth and became a nice sweet milk slush as it grew warmer. Ash also pointed out that this is a pared-down version of the halo-halo she’s used to with so many ingredients it can overwhelm the palate. The strips of macapuno (coconut) were sweet, thick, and chewy, and the pinipig (crushed rice) added a toasty flavor and a light crunch. The ube (purple yam) ice cream was sweeter and more flavorful that I’ve had it, but the thing that really amazed me was the leche flan.
I will never order flan for dessert, because it’s too weak for me, too thin and gelatinous and slippery. I like a hearty dessert. I like cookie dough. You know what I mean. Ash described leche flan to us as thicker and creamier than the flans we’re used to, but I had no idea. This was like cubes of cheesecake. Only they tasted better than cheesecake. And there were only TWO of them in my bowl! Next time, I’ll be requesting extra leche flan. Because there will be a next time.
The menu is set to expand in the coming weeks, but you can view the prototype we ordered from here:
• Pig and Khao Menu, side 1
Pig and Khao
• Pig and Khao Menu, side 2
68 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002 (map)