It’s hard to find Filipino food, let alone good Filipino food. Maharlika means “Royalty” in Tagalog, and this cozy little spot in the East Village is homey and modern at once, far nicer than any Filipino restaurant I’ve ever been to.
I am greeted with the sound of Jimi Hendrix and the womb-like feelings of Tita’s kitchen. I dig this place.
- Start with the humble yet widely-feared delicacy, balut ($5). This fertilized duck egg tastes like hard-boiled egg and babies. Beautifully presented with salt to taste, it is slurpable, protein-packed and a little unnerving.
- Pampangan-style sisig ($16) is like a low-country hash that only Asian ingredients can make better. Sibuya onions, garlic, lemon and bird chilies…you will find a thin line of saliva quietly running down your chin even before the dish hits the table.
- A sizzling cast-iron pan is filled with meaty pork belly, cheeks and ears boiled, then grilled and finally sautéed until chewy like jerky at times, lush, smoky and completely satisfying. Mix it vigorously with the soft egg and rice speckled with bits of toasted garlic.
- Another must-try is the chicken ‘n’ ube waffle ($17). Ube is a purple fruit often used in ice cream and cakes, and its subtle sweetness complements the impossibly crisp and juicy flourless, fried chicken. Anchovy chive butter lends a further contrast to the sweet coconut syrup you’ll feel compelled to drown your waffle and your face in.
Bring enough cash. Credit cards not accepted.
111 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Originally Published June 7, 2013