Southeast Asia is a wonderful place for the culinary minds out there. But so is Southeast Manhattan. Specifically the square of Lower East Side, East Village, Nolita and Noho that incorporates a high concentration of chef driven joints including some of the city’s most prominent Asian. But when zooming in on a small area around Clinton street in LES, you will find “Little Judasia” – Jews doing kick ass Asian.
Leading the charge in Little Judasia you got Leah Cohen (Pig and Khao), Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen), and Petra Rickman (Ginger and Lemongrass). Ok, I’m not too sure about the Czech born Rickman, though Rickman is a common Jewish name. We need a confirmation or a conversion in this case. But this is already far and away more interesting than Little Italy to the west.
Pig and Khao simply put is one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city. Although I’ve written about P&K before and added it enthusiastically to the Z-List, I’ve never actually written a post about it. That enthusiasm is slightly marred by the fact that after many flawless meals, the only hiccups came on the last visit when I introduced P&K to my oldest. But I find myself mentioning it more often than any other place these days. Especially to those embracing the bolder flavors, or want to experience something new.
Here’s a list of my current favorite dishes
Thai Mushroom Salad – The unsung hero. With all the attention that the Sisig and Khao Soi are getting, to me its this shroom/shrimp/chili concoction that is perhaps the best dish here. Its also one of the spiciest, so pair it with the most coconutty coconut rice out there.
Sizzling Sisig – The most celebrated dish here, and perhaps the most famous Sisig in a city not famous for Sisigs. Reason being part taste, part novelty, part Instagram. But it is very good and something I order almost every time. Its not a traditional, but third generation Sisig that includes all pigs head parts (cheeks, snout, etc).
Khao Soi – Exceptional depth in this one. Hard to say how it compares to Ugly Baby and Pam Real Thai as I havent had them recently but this is excellent.
Malaysian Butter Prawns – Five huge, plump, perfectly cooked prawns that are clean and easy to peel unlike similar dishes out there. Its ladened with this crumby buttery mixture that is so addictive we it with a spoon
Grilled Sirloin – This is just a perfectly seared Sirloin but as with so many southeast Asian joints comes with a playful set. You get cabbage and a spicy Isan fish sauce to practice your taco making skills.
Malaysian Fried Chicken – I’m including this even though the dish went from a 9 to a 7 on my last visit when the bird perhaps spent a minute or two longer in the sin bin. But when its on, its as good as any fried chicken dish you will ever have in NYC.
Thai-Lote – A side of grilled corn with sambal butter, toasted coconut flakes and kaffir. Get this!
Good but would not get again – Ribs and Halo Halo
Pig and Khao
68 Clinton St (Rivingston/Stanton), Lower East Side
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that.
Recommended Dishes: All of the above