The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Filipino Food Crawl in Woodside: Ihawan, Red Ribbon, and Jollibee

Sorry for the big gap between posts. :( My previous post was written at the cusp of getting the flu; I sort of wallowed in my diseased-ridden bed for the next three days while wondering when my body would stop feeling like I had had fallen on my back out of a two-story window. Thankfully, it was a short flu that made me do two things that rarely occur in my life: sleep more and eat less. THANKS, FLU! Really, it was good for me. And over the ridiculously beautiful weekend, I took a trip to Philadelphia for my first much-needed foray out of the Tri-State area in about HALF A FUGGIN YEAR. It involve two Capogiro outings, so you know it was good.


"I can feel my pants tightening," Veronica said while shifting in her seat at Ihawan.


"I'm not wearing any pants."


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 lumpiang innards

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.)

tilapia sinigang

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
Kare Kare.

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...

shrimp paste goo
Shrimp paste. Give it to me.

...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
Not so sizzling sisig.

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 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 lechon kawali
Lechon kawali. It is time.

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.

avocado and mango ice thingies
Icy slush things.

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.

calamansi juice
Calamansi juice.

I probably would've been better off with a glass of calamansi juice ($2.50), a refreshing lemony-orangey drink.

interior wall of good stuff Ihawan
Non-food things.

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.

Phil-Am Food Mart
Phil-Am Mart

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.

peanut butter

I liked these peanut butter jars. For some reason.

pasteurized prepared cheddar cheese product
Cheese goo.

Pasteurized Prepared Cheddar Cheese Product. The very finest.

all purpose sauce

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.

Red Ribbon
Red Ribbon.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I had a pretty good time at Red Ribbon. Because cake is awesome. Hyperbole and a Half knows where it's at.


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.

peach mango pie PIE bitten nom nom
PIE! And Veronica and Francine mid-pie-ing.

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.

no pants, no limits

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)

Red Ribbon
6502 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377 (map)

62-29 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, NY 11377 (map)

The Spotted Pig
314 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10014 (map)


John / April 4, 2010 9:49 PM

I just went to Engeline's with Claire and her mom (first meeting-- success!). It was delicious as always.

How does Iwahan stack up to Engeline's? I found out about Iwahan as I was looking up Engeline's address. Nearly universal good reviews (except some quibbles about service). Wanna check this place out.

Jollibee's I still haven't tried either. Oh man, you're making me look bad! :P

gtrine / April 4, 2010 10:27 PM

Awesome post on some good-looking pinoy food. I am glad you liked the food. Sizzling sisig is almost impossible to find in the us. You must - MUST - try the local versions if you ever get to the philippines! Happy easter!

curioustastebuds / April 4, 2010 10:57 PM

You just made me miss the Philippines more, especially the food! I've been living in Tampa, Florida and I have yet to find a Filipino restaurant here. It's so sad how I can't even eat native dishes that I crave and miss so much! There are Asian markets here, but there's not even one I know of that focuses on Filipino products. Even if my aunt cooks native dishes, it's still so hard to find the ingredients. Hopefully, I get to find a Filipino restaurant near my place soon!

Manda / April 5, 2010 12:21 AM


I love the peach mango pie @ Jollibee's while bf loves the banana langka (jackfruit) version. Fried pies FTW! I'm a sucker for the ensaimada at Red Ribbon but only in the family pack, not the individual pack. Did you try anything else at Red Ribbon? I like that their meals come with a slice of cake!

It's not good that I now within 10 minutes of Red Ribbon, Jollibee, and a lot of other smaller Filipino places. =X

Mahar / April 5, 2010 1:42 AM

I actually like Jollibee best for its fried chicken, the spicy version. It really lives up to its name of Chickenjoy.

On Lily's peanut butter: only the best smooth peanut butter on earth. It's sweetened (no surprise) but I LOVE IT TO PIECES I'VE BEEN EATING SINCE I WAS 5 THAT'S 22 YEARS OF PEANUT BUTTER JOY OH I AM HUNGRY.

You need to taste proper lechon soon. You've been initiated to most forms of Pinoy pork, it's time for the zenith.

kim / April 5, 2010 8:10 AM

Glad you're all well Robyn. And haven't you ever heard that you should NEVER starve a flu? :P Nice you still got some good eats into your system.

bionicgrrrl / April 5, 2010 10:53 AM

Oh I do the same thing when I plan to pig out! No pants or I at least make sure not to wear a belt. Mmmm, must try Ihawan. Looks so good...

Melody / April 5, 2010 4:01 PM

I simply must take you for pork belly pizza if you ever get to visit Sydney. Seriously, it tastes just as divine as it sounds! For a while after trying pork belly for the first time, I used to joke that the only way it could be improved would be to put it on pizza, and then I found a place that makes it--with generally fantastic pizza, no less!

Gloria / April 5, 2010 5:49 PM

Ah, so that's why! I never really liked pork belly but no wonder, it never had a deep fried shell of deliciousness around it. Now it all makes sense.

I am loving that exclamation point after Jane on the birthday cake! Exclamation points make everything just a little more awesomer!

Btw, that picture of you is AWESOME. Boots too. Kinda incredibly jealous right now.

roboppy / April 5, 2010 6:31 PM

John: I don't know which place is better in the battle between Engelines and Ihawan, but Ihawan was way more bustling (and it's larger) than when we went to Engelines. Then again, they were different meal times. Maybe I gotta go back to Engelines for another round of pork. Heehee.

And we shall go to JOLLIBEE!

Nicholas: MMK!

gtrine: Sisig is so fuggin good, it's a shame it's not easier to find!

curioustastebuds: I noticed that the Filipino market had lots of stuff I never saw in other Asian markets. FUN DISCOVERIIIESS! Sorry there is no Filipino stuff near you though. :(

Manda: At Red Ribbon i just tried the mango cake and a mocha cake/bready thing that was as light as a cloud and destroyed by my mouth in maybe 10 seconds. Mmmm.

Mahar: While we were waiting for 15 min / eternity in the Jollibee line, we saw a commercial for the spicy chicken play over and over again. Flames shooting everywhere. I want in on that.

Oo maybe I should try that PB next time I go. YAY SWEET STUFF!

Kim: Never starve a flu? Nope, I haven't heard that. But I was far from starving...I ate less, I didn't eat nothing. :P I come from the school of thought that being sick and having no appetite means you shouldn't eat much, though. I eat too much on a regular basis.

bionicgrrrl: YAY NO PANTS CLUB.

Melody: Pork belly pizza sounds GREAT. Why haven't I had it yet? Wargh!

Gloria: WE MUST GO GET FILIPINO FOOD, MMK? Yes. I'll have to organize another outing.

I'm glad you like the boots photo! :) I don't think it'll happen again for a while; my feet were sore after that. I put on sneakers when I went out again that night, ha ha.

Mahar / April 5, 2010 6:58 PM

A warning on Lily's PB: it's super oily.

After unraveling the green tape around the cap, you will see a clear oil on top of the peanut butter. You're meant to stir the oil into the peanut butter.

I know, it sounds kinda weird, but this makes it so SMOOTH you cannot believe it.

ItalianTapas / April 5, 2010 10:29 PM

I'm voting for the Kare-kare. Was it a little chewy of falling of the bone tender? Sometimes oxtail is a little chewy.

Punch it Chewy!

Mila / April 6, 2010 5:48 AM

1. Glad, full of gladness, that you love bagoong. Kare kare isn't the same without it. I also can't eat green mangoes without a bowl of it. Also you will have to try binagoongan, which is lechon kawali cooked with bagoong. Two fantastic things in one.
2. Love the boots
3. Just felt there should be a 3.

reese / April 6, 2010 10:59 PM

Jollibee in NY! I might have to take the Acela train and go there, pronto!You so have to eat the Chicken Joy! It is crazy good! They have the fried chicken with rice combo. I thought they were interesting, in a good way. Banana Langka I miss thee.

roboppy / April 7, 2010 2:10 AM

Mahar: I'm totes into the PB with the oil on top! That's how it should be. :)

ItalianTapas: It wasn't falling off the bone, but soft enough.

Mila: 1. Um YES I def need lechon kawali + bagoong goodness.

2. Thanks!

3. True dat.

reese: Chicken Joy is in my future!

Marie / April 7, 2010 2:19 AM

I am flabbergasted by the lechon kawali and the canned cheese product with a super long name for two very different reasons! I am uneducated in Filipino cuisine. This post, however, makes me want to change that immediately. :)

Mahar / April 7, 2010 7:37 AM


Okay, I have to admit that it's good but not GREAT. But I'm sentimentally attached to it since it's been around forever.

Julie / April 8, 2010 11:43 AM

You're killing me--I want fried pie now. Emmmmpanada! You're so lucky to be near so many Filipino joints! We have a handful, but they're spread out throughout the valley. Luckily, there's one nearby, and I picked up some kare-kare (this one had hamhock, and of course bagoong), pork belly, chicken curry, and laing (spicy taro leaves with pork). The first time I ate kare-kare, I dumped in too much bagoong and didn't mix it in well--there's a shock for your mouf! I'm craving more pork now. The sisig on the plate on the hot plate--maybe you were supposed to scrape it onto the hot plate so you could sizzle it yourself?

roboppy / April 8, 2010 10:26 PM

Marie: Go forth and find ye some lechon kawali!

Julie: Interesting idea about the sisig...I feel like if that was the case, my Filipino (er, Filipina) friend would've known. But just like..JUST PUT IT ON THE HOT PLATE TO BEGIN WITH, WHERE THE DELICIOUSNESS IS. [sob] Actually, it wasn't just the plate that was the problem, but it would've helped. Oh wellls.

Lucia / April 8, 2010 11:44 PM

This post is making me hungry. I'm just going to have to break down and finally learn to cook Filipino food. I took it for granted that Jollibee and Goldilocks were close by when I lived in the S.F. Bay Area, but now that I'm here in Charlotte, North Carolina...nada.

The Spatula Queen / April 9, 2010 2:32 AM

Dresses are my secret weapon for massive food consumption. I can't imagine devouring 10+ courses, or a dozen cupcakes with pants. But with the power of DRESSES, the limit is dangerously extended. And well, I get to feel girly while probably out-eating most guys.

The pie just reminds me of the Taro pie my friend made me try in a Chinese McDonald's. It was surprisingly...tarolicious. Cute shoes, by the way!

Christina / April 9, 2010 5:30 PM

Glad you're feeling better, Robyn, and those are awesome shoes!

Man, I'd give anything but my hands for an icy slush drink right now. And some of those fried pork+shrimp rolls.

roboppy / April 11, 2010 9:04 PM

Lucia: Aw...well at least you have BBQ there, eh? :)


Christina: Thanks! i have not worn the shoes since then I'm afraid, but I..think about it...

I wish I had some of those fried pork and shrimp rolls now cos I just woke up from a crazy nap and now I'm hoongryy. I could've totally bought frozen ones at the supermarket and fried em at home.

Fokked / April 17, 2010 5:20 PM

Glad the boots worked out. Try crushing them with your hands a bit (somewhere a cobbler is crying) to soften up the leather.

Meredith / May 3, 2010 8:54 PM

Thanks for posting this! I've been to Woodside a couple of times, and I've been curious about the Filipino places but never knew where to go.

May / June 15, 2010 12:19 PM

LOVE LOVE LOVE the Filipino restaurants in Woodside

Ihawan has THE BEST Cripsy Pata - Fried Pig Knuckle there is. I love sizzling Sisig too but I feel it is better at Krystals for that dish. But Ihawan rocks, they also have the best Avocado shake too. YUMMMM, now my mouth is watering. They have these sweet buns at Phil-Am market which is fresh baked, I think it is individually packaged by a Christina's bakery or something like that. I need to make a trip again to Woodside.

Vangie / December 20, 2010 1:07 PM

The best SIZZLING PORK SISIG is at MAMA FINA's in Elmwood Park, New Jersey! I've been to the other Filipino restaurants mentioned above so many times, but they can never surpass Mama Fina's sisig. While there, also try their tuna sisig.

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