27 March 2011

Mahal Kita, Maharlika!


In literal Tagalog-English translation, it means “I Love You, Royalty!” If you say it fast enough, it sounds alike too.

I first heard about Maharlika via email from my friend Carol. Quite surprising news since I get all my Filipino restaurant intel from my Filipino friends. In any case, It has been piquing my interest since I heard about it. Eggs Imelda? Naming a tribute dish to the Queen of Shoes (she has a whole BUILDING for a shoe closet, and rumor has it that she gets custom-made shoes from Salvatorre Ferragamo) is mighty fine.

Contrary to Filipino custom, I ate at Maharlika by myself. My husband’s eating schedule and work schedule does not coincide with their 11am-3pm weekends only schedule inside Resto Leon, and I was just hungry. Seated at the bar, I was perusing the menu and having such a hard time deciding between the sisig and the stuffed chicken wings. I said to the bartender, “I’m torn.” Extending his hand, he answers “I’m Enzo.” With nice, warm and friendly staff, Maharlika is truly a blessing for solo diners.

While waiting for my food, I munched on these. They are cracker nuts. They are peanuts encased with a crunchy coating and some garlic flavoring. I know they visually remind you of whole chickpeas but they are far from it. 

True to the activity of weekend brunching, I had a glass of Kalamansi Mimosa. Kalamansi is the Philippine Lemon. The drink is refreshing and only has a hint of it in the end. This drink rounds out the whole meal perfectly.


The Pampangan-Style Sizzling Sisig with Egg and Garlic Rice was good. Totally what I expected it to be. The rice is garlicky good!

DON’T TOUCH THAT HANDLE. It's hot! Sisig has been part of the Filipino Cuisine way before snout to tail dining has achieved its present status in the US culinary scene. In it is pork belly, pig snout and ears. Some versions add liver, but truth is its all minced that you don’t even see it resembling any of the mentioned pork parts. The egg that goes on top of it is perfectly runny - when you mix it up (and you should!) the egg gets cooked and it just becomes heavenly.
Sisig started out as “drinking food.” The drinking culture in the Philippines is about drinking and eating “pulutan.” Pulutan – loosely translated is “something to pick on.” Something like tapas. I am speculating that this is brought about the Spain’s Colonial Era. (Thanks, Spain!) Since it is good, and we like eating EVERYTHING with plain white rice, it just became a meal.

This sisig wins my heart out of all the versions all over Manhattan, Queens and New Jersey because they provide the tables with this Maggi Seasoning. You have to taste it to understand it, but it is better than soy sauce. I should also have asked some Tabasco sauce for my sisig but I was just over the moon for this bottle of condiment.

Stuffed Chicken Wings! Aaaah. This is their take on Chicken Adobo. This is very good. If you don’t know what adobo is, here’s Sam Sifton waxing lyrical about it. I am so glad that they allowed me to order this as a side dish. See? Maharlika truly is a gem for solo diners who want to eat an entrée and a half.  (Funny enough, the maitre d’ thought that there were two people dining. LOL)

The dish is "chicken stuffed with chicken." In tagalog, we call this process of cooking "relleno." (We also do this with whole chickens, whole milkfish and sometimes lechon)
This is what the stuffing looks like while its inside the wing:
 
Dining in Maharlika is dining like royalty minus the royal prices. I have only managed to elevate my bill by getting extra food and the mimosa. The entree is a very good sized meal. I took home what was left of my Stuffed Chicken Wings and Sisig


Disclaimer:
Maharlika was once a pop-up restaurant. All these photos were taken when they were still operating inside Resto Leon in the East Village.They have recently moved to their new home in the Meatpacking District. Please note that the prices may be different from this post.

All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine. I did not receive any compensation and I had paid the bill in full.

Maharlika
111 First Ave at 7th Street
New York NY
646 392 7880 (reservations of parties of 5 or more)
http://www.maharlikanyc.com/

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