Basically, I hit a rut.
During this time, though, I’ve started practicing yoga. My instructors often talk about “setting intentions,” which sounded like a bunch of crunchy mumbo jumbo at first, but it really does make sense. So instead of getting down on myself for being less dedicated to this one writing endeavor, my blog, I am jumping back in as sunny as last weekend’s sky. Namaste, y’all. We are back.
When it comes to exploring restaurants around the city, it’s easy to settle for what’s most convenient. For me, that means trying more of the West Side spots that pepper my subway lines and won’t require two-to-three transfers or thirty bucks in a cab. The Lower East Side is basically Timbuktu in relation to my apartment, so schlepping there without a formal birthday party to attend was previously unheard of in my book. But on Friday, I set my intentions and committed to a reservation at Pig and Khao, which could not have paid off more.
We quickly devoured two snacks for the table, crispy-spiced chicarron (pork grinds) and roasted peanuts tossed with toasted coconut and lemongrass. Even thought these little bites were purposed as bar snacks, they could have been tasty accompaniments dumped atop any of our wonderful dishes to follow.
As with lots of my favorite establishments (I am sensing a trend here), the small plates were far from small and a great value. Tender charred slices of octopus were highlighted with a bright dashi and frisee salad. The surprising dichotomy of the dish came in the form of an underlying bed of potato puree and black garlic. The Khao Soi, a Thai-style red curry dish, arrived the size of a giant bowl of ramen, featuring egg noodles, chicken, and pickled mustard greens, with a curry tasty enough to slurp like broth.
Grilled Pork Jowl won for best dish of the night, turning even my pork-averse friend into a believer. The soft, velvety pork barely needed to be chewed, and could not have found better companions than Brussels sprouts and the strong flavors in chili and fish sauce. The baby back ribs should not be missed as a substantial meat option to pair with the noodles and “small” dishes, so long as you’re willing to get down and dirty with a face full of barbeque sauce. I, of course, was willing.
Dessert was funny. I insisted that we order Halo Halo, a traditional Filipino dessert involving shaved ice, condensed milk, and other random sweet treats akin to the Pinkberry toppings bar. Chef Cohen’s version involved leche flan, ube (purple yam) ice cream, and other chewy sweet things not readily identifiable. Described by one friend as “cereal on crack,” I happened to love it. Sure, it was not the easiest or most predictable choice. But I set my intentions and followed through, one spoonful at a time.