Fun fact of living in NYC #27: Meeting people from all over the world.
A good friend who was born and raised the in the Philippines insisted on hosting a real Filipino dining experience. She gathered a group of friends and we labeled the evening, “Filipino Fest.”
Warning: We ordered a lot of food.
Choosing Maharlika was a good move. They present classic Filipino dishes with a modern focus. On their website they word it as “re-interpreted with attention to detail, with careful selection of ingredients, and with preparation that can finally push Filipino food forward.” Brilliant.
The restaurant is a classic railroad space. It goes straight back with tables in the front, a long bar in the middle and more tables in the back with the kitchen. This was not a space to impress you with it’s attention to detail. It was clear that you were here for one thing only: The Food.
As many NYC restaurants practice, they do not seat incomplete parties. And as many New Yorkers know….we are all never on the same schedule. So the first half of our group enjoyed Filipino beer at the bar for 30 minutes while waiting for our friends.
The beer was decent. Slightly sweet malt with a very light hop taste at the end. I wouldn’t drink this to enjoy a beer, but it pairs perfectly with a either a hot day or a spicy meal.
Celebrating my 11th year in NYC I am proud to say that I have tried many different foods that I never would have dreamed of tasting. The menu at Maharlika is a great combination of foods that excite me and scare me at the same time. For example the first item on the menu is grilled chicken feet…….so okay, this was going to be a different experience!
We ended up ordering so much that I will just have to talk you through it.
First up, Rock Shrimp and Mackerel Ceviche.
Both were specials that evening. The rock shrimp was spiced to perfection. It had a great heat to it that didn’t burn the mouth. The ceviche was in a coconut milk that the fish absorbed and gave the dish a sweet finish. The heat from the shrimp and the cold, sweet ceviche were a welcoming combination.
Next up, the fertilized duck egg.
Yep. That’s what I said. A fertilized duck egg. This was the one dish of the evening where I was an observer. As a warning, there is a photo of the duck but it is a bit graphic….so I will add that to the end of the review for those who would rather skip that image 🙂
We were taught by my friend and our waiter that you first open the top, drink out the juices and then eat the meat inside.
Here are our two brave souls that tried the dish. Both said the liquid tasted like a hard boiled egg. As for the actual duck, it was more tender than they expected. Neither were in a rush to order it again, but they were glad they tried it.
Now that’s over, our next dish was the Sizzling Sisig. It came in a mini skillet filled with chopped pig snout, ears, and belly, mixed in with scrambled eggs.
I must say, it came out smelling AMAZING. It was really like scrambled eggs mixed with hash and sausage. The flavors were well blended and the meat was tender and flavorful. I was pleasantly surprised and recommend this dish. We also ordered a trio of vegetables.
I would go back for the veggies alone. The long beans were crispy and spicy and the eggplant melted in your mouth. The bok choy was grilled and probably the most boring of the three.
Now for the show stopper.
Another special, Fried Chicken on a Taro waffle.
If there are two things I have learned about Filipino food, it is this: 1) Everything they fry is delicious 2) If you hear the word Taro, just order it. You will thank me.
Taro is a light purple root vegetable that offers a sweet, nutty flavor. Turn that into a waffle, topped with a perfectly cooked fried chicken and a side of anchovy butter and you will be a happy person. Oh and don’t forget the coconut syrup to drizzle on top for the perfect bite.
Maharlika, PLEASE add this dish to your menu because I will come in once a week to eat it!
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, the Pata Confit (crispy pork leg) came out.
Apparently this pork leg is traditionally boiled. So the modern twist is to confit the meat. Bravo Maharlika. Because of the confit, the outside was crispy and delicious, while the inside remained tender and moist.
Once again, another dish cooked to perfection.
So why stop here you may ask? We couldn’t leave our readers without a dessert review!
The trio of ice cream was fantastic. The cheddar taste like buttered popcorn, the taro was a sweeter upgrade from a classic creamy vanilla and the avocado had a nice mellow flavor.
The coconut pudding was fun and different. The shaved coconut and corn were nice touches.
The flan was alright….I’d skip that one in the future. It was a basic finish to an exciting meal.
Overall we all had a great time. And even though we had a Filipino guide I must say the service here was outstanding. They described every dish, the history of it in the Philippines and how to properly eat it. If you are a foodie and want to try some great Filipino food, this is the spot.
Important side note: This is a cash only establishment.
**Out of a possible 5 stars, here’s what we thought….
Décor: 2 star Service: 4 stars
Beverage List: 3 star Food: 4 stars
Location: 4 star Overall: 4 stars
Cost: $20 – $45 per person (unless you order the whole menu like we did…then the price goes up a pinch)
111 1st Ave