"I can feel my pants tightening," Veronica said while shifting in her seat at Ihawan.
[ROBYN, COME UP WITH WITTY RESPONSE]
"I'm not wearing any pants."
[...OKAY, THAT'LL DO.]
Well, it was true. While my pants-wearing friends—Veronica, Kelly, and Francine—were constricted by their pants' waistlines, I was mostly unhindered by my elastic banded dress. So I kept on going. The theme of the day ended up being "No Pants, No Limits."
But we all packed away a good amount, whether wearing pants or not. Here's the spread:
Lumpiang shanghai ($7 / 12 pieces): I can't eat at a Filipino restaurant without ordering these deep fried finger-sized rolls filled with minced pork and shrimp. Super crisp shell + lil' bit of meat filling = I'm gonna shove three in my mouth at the same time. (Okay, not at the same time, but in quick succession.)
Sinigang with tilapia ($12): Sour tamarind-flavored soup with vegetables and a big meaty section of tilapia, bone and all. You can get other meats in it, but so far I like fish the most to go with the light broth. If I weren't a Filipino food noob, I'd tell you more. Good thing Wikipedia exists.
Kare-kare ($8): Stewed ox tail in peanut butter sauce with mixed vegetables. I would've liked it more if it were more peanuty, but my nose was stuffed so it was probably more peanuty than my mucus-addled brain could sense. The ox tail meat was satisfyingly tender. And I loved...
...the accompanying fermented salted shrimp paste, or bagoong alamang. It adds a little burst of funky briney goodness. We had no problem using up the tiny dish.
Sizzling sisig ($10): We were especially excited for this dish, because who wouldn't look forward to finely chopped pig head bits, liver, and onion, slightly crispified by a hot plate, and mixed with fresh lemon squeezings? Unfortunately, the "sizzling" part of the name didn't really come into play since it wasn't served on the hot plate, but a plate on the...hot plate. Plate on a hot plate doesn't make for a substantial sizzle factor. The ratio of ears-to-other-less-crunchy-bits was higher than we would've preferred; crunchy is good and all, but it's best interspersed with soft fatty bits. This version left us wanting Engeline's version.
Lechon kawali ($7): All previous pork misdeeds were forgotten with the first bite of deep fried pork belly. Each piece was encased in a thick, crispy shell—like a really good tortilla chip, except made of PORK SKIN, YES. And inside the pork crust was some of the most beautifully fat-meat layer-age I've ever seen. Or maybe I was just really excited. ...NO, no, it was beautiful. Semi-translucent buttery fat layer, tender meat layer, repeat x 2. It's dishes like this that make me wonder why Filipino food isn't more popular. I'd fuggin' maul someone for a plate of good lechon kawali. In my mind. And I don't do much mind-mauling. FRIED PORK NUBS, YOU ARE WORTH IT.
For sweet liquid-ish refreshment, I got a mango ice thing ($4), a glass of diced mango goo topped with milk and crushed ice. Francine got the avocado version ($5). Mix it together for a sweet, milky, slushy dessert. Unfortunately, as the crushed ice bits were larger than I was expecting and my newly filled cavity-ridden teeth weren't really fond of crunching on ice, the slushy wasn't as pleasant as I was hoping for. If only the ice bits had been less huge.
I probably would've been better off with a glass of calamansi juice ($2.50), a refreshing lemony-orangey drink.
Methinks the brisk business during that Sunday's brunch/lunch and the wall of press clippings are well deserved. I definitely have to go back because we didn't try any of their BBQ—according to their sign, it's the thing to get. Oops. Next time. My meat-loving posse and Ihawan shall meet again.
We went across the street to Phil-Am Food Mart, the first Filipino grocery store I had ever been to. I failed to fully capture the Filipino goodies that lined the shelves, but I got photos of some products that amused me:
Lady's Choice mayo. Approved by at least one lady.
I liked these peanut butter jars. For some reason.
Pasteurized Prepared Cheddar Cheese Product. The very finest.
I think Francine said this was the sauce that came with the lechon kawali. But being the fool I am, I failed to buy a bottle.
This cake in Red Ribbon's window knows it's awesome. I hope JANE! had a rocking birthday / Tinkerbell party.
Normal people would have stopped after Red Ribbon—but we are not weaksauce normal folk. Francine wanted us to experience full Filipino Belly 'Splosion with a last stop at Jollibee for fried pie goodness.
After waiting in a deceptively short line for 15 minutes—which in fast food time feels more like an hour—we got our prized peach mango pie. One bite through the bubbly crust (so fresh it may have been making post-frying fizzy noises) unleashed the sweet chunky filling whose temperature was roughly that of the Earth's core. We nibbled cautiously to lessen the possibility of skin lesions. It reminded me of the first time I ate a deep fried hotteok, except the pie didn't squirt most of its burninating contents on my shirt. As fried pies tend to be, it was a tasty pie. Next time I'll have to supplement it with something savory, if I'm not stuffed from another trip to Ihawan.
Here's your shot of No Pants 'Boppy. Rated G. I'm wearing those aforementioned shoes, which fit surprisingly well! Thank you all for your help. Now I need to get used to wearing high heels. ...Nah, that's not happening.
Later That Night...
...I went to The Spotted Pig. But noooo, even my stomach can't fit that much food; I was just there to hang out with Foster and his friends, not eat anything. Foster is an amazing food-loving friend who was visiting from Chicago for just a few days, so with few opportunities to hang out I shoved myself in when I could. Everyone went with the beloved burger, although if you go at lunch I would also recommend the Cuban.
40-06 70th Street, Woodside, New York 11377 (map)
Phil-Am Food Mart
7002 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, NY 11372 (map)