Filipino Restaurant Week (#FRW2018), that annual, much-awaited foodie event among fans of Filipino cuisine, has grown so much after its inception back in 2015 when 13 Filipino restaurants across the boroughs of New York as well as Jersey City offered fixed priced lunches and dinners. This was in reaction to the then emerging popularity of Filipino cuisine, particularly in New York City.
This time, 24 restaurants and pop-ups in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia are participating and will be providing special prix fixe menus of delectable Filipino cuisine from 14 to 26 May. Lunches are at $25 and dinners are priced at $35. Other a la carte menu items are also available in these restaurants during the promotional period.
The eclectic mix of participating restaurants and cafes offers a wide spectrum of Filipino food to make sure that there is something for every diner out there. There are traditional restaurants that offer home-cooked goodness and there are coffee shops like Mountain Province and Kabisera Kape that offer light fare and truly Filipino coffee and tea.
This year, we have a number of first-time participants, including Perla in Philadelphia, Flip Sigi, Swell Dive, Ibis Eats, Tama and Mighty Bowl.
Chef Jordan Andino of Flip Sigi shared his excitement about being a part of this group and seeing the same restaurants he visited in the past few years made him a little nostalgic.
“I feel honored to be a part of this and it is cool to see the same restaurants that I’ve visited in the past 8, 9 years that I’ve based my life on doing so well and to be a part of that is a real honor,” he shared. “We are a Filipino taqueria, meaning we serve Filipino food using Mexican vessels like sandwiches, tacos and burritos with a little bit of Filipino love sprinkled on top. It is by no means traditional and I don’t try to pretend and I tell our guests this is my take on Filipino cuisine.”
His restaurant Flip Sigi opened its second location last year in the Upper East Side in addition to its Greenwich Village home. He is also the current featured chef at the Chefs Club Counter in Soho.
Another first-timer is Bjorn dela Cruz of Manila Social Club. He now runs Ibis Eats in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
“I am excited for Filipino Restaurant Week to be able to open up Filipino food in the Crown Heights area. What should we be doing to mainstream the food – we have to be very honest with ourselves, no shortcuts, no half-measures,” dela Cruz said. “Filipino food is absolutely amazing. It is so vibrant and delicious. It is a very dynamic cuisine and we can’t get stuck on just one thing or one dish.”
Dela Cruz is famous for his creation, the ubiquitous $100 golden ube donut that was the toast of the social media world a couple of years ago. The donut was made out of ube, covered with 24-karat gold leaf and piped with Cristal gelee and ube mousse and its icing laced with more Cristal champagne.
“I love ube and I made it my mission in 2016 to make ube a thing. It’s that one ingredient that opens up to other Filipino cooking styles and dishes,” Dela Cruz said.
One of the pioneers of the Filipino Restaurant Week project is Nicole Ponseca of Jeepney and Maharlika, along with Purple Yam and Kuma Inn.
“It is exciting to see how it has evolved,” Ponseca told us, excitedly adding that she is working on opening a third restaurant – this time in Williamsburg.
“We’re calling it Tita Baby’s and it is going to be a panciteria,” she teased. “It is an homage to all the women in our lives that took care of us, cooked for us and fed us.”
If plans don’t miscarry, the place will open next month. She is also coming out with a cookbook under Artisan Press, which is coming out this November.
Anton Dayrit, executive chef of Mighty Bowl restaurants, talked about their restaurant which now has three locations in the city – MacDougal in the Greenwich Village, Midtown East and a third one in the Upper East Side (on 77th and Lexington).
“It’s spicy and really good hang-over food,” he said, describing their offerings. Among their more popular bowls is the Manila Bowl and for FRW, they are offering Sisig Bowl as well.
Miguel de Leon, one of the owners of Tama, a small neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn talked about their place being mostly a take-home spot.
“We want to invite our flavors, our history into your homes,” he said. “We look back at our history in order for us to progress and that’s how we at Tama flavor our food with, we look back and respect the Spanish flavors, Mexican flavors from the Galleon Trade to the American Occupation and bring them to you in a package that’s delicious, affordable and exciting.”
Tama opened in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn a year ago.
Just recently, they became viral on social media with their “sisig burger” creation, using homemade ube bun, slathered in chili-garlic hot sauce and chili aioli, then topped with a fried egg, local greens and a patty made of sisig.
This year, the Philippine Consulate General in New York partnered with the Philippine Department of Tourism New York, Philippine Airlines, and Tanduay Asian Rum for FRW 2018.
Speaking at the launch, Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate emphasized that Filipinos’ love for food extends to their humanity – the desire to share, and the wisdom to always make sure to leave something for those who will need it.
Tourism Attache Susan Del Mundo shared with the audience the various gastronomic tours available in the Philippines. The Department of Tourism is working on exciting new farm to table programs in partnership with organic farms and agricultural organizations.
In order to entice more participants to join, the Department of Tourism is sponsoring a social media campaign allowing diners to win terrific prizes. Lucky diners have a chance to win a round trip ticket to Manila courtesy of Philippine Airlines, three nights’ hotel accommodations, a bespoke culinary tour, Barclay Centre concert tickets courtesy of Tanduay Asian Rum and other travel items during the promotional period.
The participating restaurants of Filipino Restaurant Week 2018 are:
FlipSigi (1752 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10128, 833-FLIPSIGI)
Grill 21 (346 E 21st St., New York, NY 10010, 212-473-5950)
Ibis Eats (663 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238, 718-676-4150)
Jappy Afzelius Pop-Up at Ugly Kitchen (103 1st Ave., New York, NY 10003, 212-777-6677)
Jeepney (201 1st Ave., New York, NY 10003, 212-533-4221)
Kabisera Kape (151 Allen St., New York, NY 10002; 929-920-8250)
Kuma Inn (113 Ludlow St., New York, NY 10002, 212-353-8866)
Maharlika (111 1st Ave., New York 10003, 646-392-7880)
Mighty Bowl (817 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017, 646-649-5603)
Mountain Province (9 Meserole St., Brooklyn, NY 11206, 718-387-7030)
Sisig City Food Truck (www.sisigcity.com; http://www.facebook.com/SisigCity)
Philam Kusina (556 Tompkins Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305, 718-727-3663)
Purple Yam (1314 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY 11226, 718-940-8188)
Swell Dive (1013 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11205, 917-652-4779)
Tama (147 Lewis Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11221, 347-533-4750)
Talde (369 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215, 718-205-7299)
Tito Rad’s Grill & Restaurant (49-10 Queens Blvd., Woodside, NY, 11377, 718-205-7299)
Ugly Kitchen (103 1st Ave., New York, NY 10003, 212-777-6677)
La Parilla de Manilla (1159 St. Georges Ave., Colonia, NJ 07067, 732-510-7033)
Max’s (687 Newark Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07306, 201-798-2700)
Noodle Fan (2814 JFK Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07306, 201-626-4443)
Pinoy Filipino Restaurant (18 Division St., Somerville, NJ 08876, 908-450-9878)
Talde (8 Erie St., Jersey City, NJ 07302, 201-630-0077)
Perla (1525 S 11th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147, 267-273-0008)