File this under: "totally worth the trip." Pig and Khao is Top Chef star Leah Cohen's recently opened Lower East side restaurant on Clinton Street that it is both intriguing and delicious. Complimented by a select team from the great Fatty Crab, Cohen starts with classic Thai and Filipino comfort dishes and adds her own flavor-exploding riffs. Throw in some funky decor, friendly service, and an intimate backyard and you have what adds up to our new favorite restaurant on the Lower East Side.
Southeast Asian Cuisine…Lower East Side Style
We visited the Pig and Khao restaurant over the weekend, devoured as much as we could from the small, appealing menu, and can't wait to go back. We started with the bowl of Spiced Chickpeas, and you should too because they are perfect to crunch on while you enjoy a pre-meal micro-brew, of which they have an extensive selection including a one-price "bottomless" tap that is self serve. If you're like us, you'll then negotiate with your friends about what you're going to share–and IF you're willing to share–from the Pig and Khao menu. Then, sit back as the parade of dishes begins!
Small Plates with Big Flavor
We made short work of three "small plate" options and all were big hits. The Green Mango Salad was cool, but not taste-killing over-refridgerated, and topped with warm, amazingly juicy charred chicken. Interesting flavors came from a lemongrass and mint flourish, a spinkling of cashews, and, just to complete the textural and flavor rainbow, a handful of briny, chewy, dried shrimp. We loved it! Everything we ate at Pig and Khao was thoughtfully conceived and prepared with care. That winning dynamic was perhaps most in evidence with the superb Sizzling Sisig, a traditional Filipino concoction of pork head, liver, fiery(ish) chilis, and a raw whole egg cracked on top, which cooks as you stir the dish on the hot cast iron platter. This is like the best–or, at least, the most interesting–plate of hash we've ever had.
Leah Cohen Creates a Hit Worth Visiting…Often
Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed our bowl of mussels, served with a generous sprinkling of chinese sausage, a rich broth of yuzu, dashi, and thai basil, and a trio of doughnut-like fried mantao buns to sop it all up (it sounds a bit odd, the doughnut thing, but it works). If we had room for dessert, we definitely would gone for the Halo-Halo, with its leche flan, and bright purple ube ice cream. Next time, Pig and Khao. We don't frequent the East Side that often but perhaps with Pig and Khao as motivation, along with our new favorite vegan bakery, Vegan Divas, that we wrote about recently, we'll need to venture east more regularly!
Pig and Khao Details
Pig and Khao is located on Clinton Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets (in the former Falai space), and is open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Thursday through Saturday from 5:00 until 2:00 a.m. For more information, please see the Pig and Khao website, here.