Pinoy resto in New York draws raves

Posted at 02/17/2012 7:12 AM | Updated as of 02/17/2012 7:19 AM
Mango-stuffed French toast is one of the dishes served in Maharlika Filipino Moderno restaurant in New York City. (Photos from Maharlika Filipino Moderno's Facebook page)

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino restaurant is earning raves in New York City.

Maharlika Filipino Moderno was awarded the best new restaurant of 2012 by city guide Metromix New York.

“Despite heavy competition from notable contenders Coppelia (Julian Medina), The Dutch (Andrew Carmellini), Fatty ‘Cue (Zak Pelaccio) and RedFarm, we were able to pull through with an underdog victory in pre-fame Pacquiao fashion,” the restaurant said in its website.

Maharlika is also nominated in the Best International Eats category at the 2012 Food & Drink Awards of guide magazine Time Out New York, which highlights New York’s best restaurants, bars, chefs and dining trends of the year.

Maharlika is up against Indian restaurant Junoon, Chinese restaurant RedFarm and Miss Lily’s, which serves Jamaican food.

For the Time Out New York 2012 Food & Drink Awards, the public can vote for their favorites by visiting timeoutnewyork.com/vote. The winners will be announced at a live event on April 2.

Pop-up beginnings

Maharlika began in January 2011 as a weekend “pop-up” restaurant. It became so successful that its owners -- three young Filipino-Americans, Nicole Ponseca, Enzo Lim and Noel Cruz— decided to open in the East Village.

In its writeup on the restaurant, Metromix New York mentioned dishes like longganisa hot dogs with pickled papaya and shrimp-paste mayo, goat adobo braised in soy sauce, ube waffles and the Filipino party staple, spaghetti with hot dogs.

Homemade tocilog (tocino, garlic rice and fried egg) is one of the dishes served in Maharlika Filipino Moderno restaurant in New York City. (Photos from Maharlika Filipino Moderno's Facebook page)

With interiors inspired by 1970s/1980s Filipino homes including a photo of 1973 Miss Universe Margie Moran, the owners told Metromix that this is the period when many first-generation Filipino immigrants first landed in the United States.

Time Out New York, meanwhile, had its own favorites like “eggs Imelda,” which is poached eggs on pan de sal with taro leaves, coconut milk and prawns, and the sizzling sisig.

Time Out also mentioned a tropical cocktail called Manileño, which mixes brandy, pineapple, maraschino, Peychaud's Bitters and lime.

The prestigious New York Times also gave the restaurant a full review.

“For Filipino-Americans, this is the family photo album. It is kitsch and not kitsch, irony and homage both. For everyone else, Maharlika is a gateway restaurant — an exotic excursion with a soft landing, a chance to discover an unsung cuisine without getting too down-and-dirty,” the newspaper said.

“Could it be that Filipino food, the underdog of Asian cuisines, is having its moment at last?”