Sun-Wed, 5pm-10pm; Thu 5pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-midnight
F, J, M, Z at Delancey St.-Essex St.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
Appetizers, $6 to $18; entrées, $22 to $28
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Former Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen’s newish pork-themed restaurant, Pig and Khao, is an Asian Hipster destination of a much more familiar kind. The narrow little storefront room on Clinton Street has been fitted in the now-time-honored no-reservations style with communal tables, a small open kitchen, and a variety of evocative tchotchkes (Thai urns, a carved-wood dragon), presumably gathered by the cooks during the course of their de rigueur food tours of Manila, Hong Kong, and Chiang Mai.
Cohen has sprinkled her modestly priced, userfriendly menu with a variety of Changstyle pork dishes (curry rice salad with minced pork, grilled pork jowls, crispy “pata” pork leg), and during the warm months of the year, you’ll be able to enjoy your pork dinner outside with bottles of Asian beer (Asahi from Japan, San Miguel from the Philippines) in a little garden space strung with lights.
Pig and Khao doesn’t have the professional polish of Dale Talde’s eponymous Asian Hipster establishment in Park Slope, or the focused intensity of Andy Ricker’s nouveau Thai joint, Pok Pok Ny, on the Brooklyn waterfront. But you won’t have to wait hours for a taste of Filipino pork head (the excellently named “sizzling sisig”) at this unassuming little restaurant, and unlike Morimoto, Cohen is in the kitchen almost every night and clearly has a passion for the food she’s cooking. I liked the sausagelaced mussels, served with knucklesize fried mantao buns, and the crispy rice salad, which is folded with ground pork and plenty of spicy red curry. The Thaistyle whole fried fish is the entrée to get if you overdose, like I did, on the early pork dishes, and if you wish to experience the messy, crackpot exuberance of a real Asian dessert, call for the halo-halo, which is constructed, just like on the streets of Manila, with leche flan, buckets of shaved ice, and colorful scoops of yam-flavored ice cream.Note:
The strangely pleasing house sangria is flavored with papaya and green mango, among other odd things.Ideal Meal
Crispy red-curry rice salad, mussels, whole fried fish, halo-halo.