When people hear “Filipino” they typically imagine the following:
Nurses, Jo Koy, Mikey Bustos, Palawan, and/or Balut.
But there is so so so much more to it.
Here in the melting pot that is NYC we have a little of everything-LITERALLY. Little Italy, Little China, Little India, Little EVERYTHING. So I do not know why people are so surprised when I tell them about Little Manila.
Located in Woodside, Queens- little manila is home to many of the Filipino community, some of the only places you can get Filipino specialty groceries and the best Filipino restaurants in New York- namely Ihawan.
Growing up I didn’t really eat a lot of Filipino food because I gravitated more to the Italian food because my dad was the primary cook and my Filipino mom – and I say this with all the love in the world– CANNOT cook (she tries though). However, as I started to get older and experiment on my own and eat out I began to grow a sincere love for the culture and food of my Filipino people.
At Ihawan, they make me feel like I am right there in the Philippines, sitting in my cousin’s house in Batangas, eating her and her husbands amazing cooking. As a carnivore, anything pork on the menu is immediately my favorite. Pictured above (besides my Tita Lorna) is some of the Filipino staples, also my favorites (obviously lol), which are sisig, pork sinigang, lechon kewali, garlic rice, and below is the pork lumpia. Oh, and in those drinks are what I call Filipino lemonade aka Calamansi Juice- the MOST delicious & refreshing dranky drank in all the land. FACTS.
The way I describe lumpia to those who have never tried is that it is an egg roll brought to a whole. other. level. It’s meaty, it’s crunchy, its got a sweet chili dipping sauce, it is ahh-mazing. Do NOT knock it till you TRY it.
And if you like garlic and are a fried rice lover, then my friend you have finally found your favorite food. Take a step into the Filipino classic and join the ever-growing fan base for GARLIC FRIED RICE. I don’t know if it is because I am Sicilian, but for me, anything garlicky is my absolute favorite. I have brought my non-Filipino friends and family to some Filipino restaurants and once they tried the garlic rice there was no going back! I guarantee you, if it’s not at Ihawan and you go to FOB, Purple Yam, Jeepney, Mahalrika, Toto Rads, Kabayan- basically any Pinoy restaurant get you some GARLIC FRIED RICE– you can thank me later.
The menu is quite long and can be a bit intimidating but as the great (and now late RIP) Anthony Bourdain said Filipinos are the “most giving of all people” and we will explain that menu to you to the best of our capabilities.
It isn’t a fancy pants restaurant, its is just simply a GREAT one. It’s a place you go to taste home, to think of your Tita’s or Lolo’s cooking (aunt/grandpa for the non-Filipino), or to experiment and experience traditional authentic Filipino food. (I stress authentic cause there are a lot of knock-offs).
I have seen quite a surge in the Filipino culture lately and so I am glad that everyone is jumping on the Filipino wave- just do not leave out the O.G.’s 🙂
Magkita tayo ulit kaagad or ‘see you soon’