Opened by Top Chef alumna Leah Cohen, Pig and Khao offers a strange alternate universe to South East Asian grunge. The walkway into the restaurant creates a U-shaped space, with the walls and windows presenting pigs throwing you backward glances. It is brunch time, and alongside the flirting pigs are the free flowing mimosa, which at $15/head is guaranteed to lose you a sunday. The path to blissful stupor comes in orange, watermelon, lychee and mango.
The space opens to a visible kitchen on the left and a garden to the back, though with only a few warm days left, you best be eating your eggs indoors. Sitting two arm’s lengths away from the egg poaching, I was ready for the sizzling sisig, a Filipino dish of pork head, chili and whole egg. At the table was also the grilled pork jowl with watermelon, chicharron, toasted rice, and lime-chili fish sauce as well as the bahn xeo, or Vietnamese sizzling cake.
With Vietnamese coffee in hand, I was bright eyed when the sizzlers came. At this point, I find it hard to expound on the deliciousness of pork head without putting some strange words in combination – but it was crisp in some bites, crunchy in others, and went beautifully with the egg that slowly moved from over easy onwards.
The grilled pork jowl I only filched a bite of, but of what I remember of it was herb-filled bliss, with a strong presence of the chili-lime. An acidic treatment overall, with perhaps not enough toasted rice to balance the entire dish, but undoubtedly a powerful savory alternative to say, an eggs benedict.
Finally, another simple bite of bahn xeo, which was refreshing like so many other Vietnamese favorites. Perhaps not as compatible with the usual expectation of brunch, but delicious with lettuce and crepe, carrying both a raw and sizzled crisp. It too has the requisite bacon flavors in the mix. A fish sauce added to what was described as a very oriental taste.
Captivated by the name, lulled in by the stark logo, Pig and Khao reaffirmed with every dish its name to be more than a simple boast. I find that for myself, with frequent cravings for strong Asian flavors and cocktail, the authentic taste in deep boroughs hardly serves on a Friday night or weekend. Pig and Khao has been part of a movement to fill this gap, a gap that I cannot believe I suffer alone. In short, the youthful, edgy feel of Pig and Khao has given me truly the best of both worlds–a taste of home in a time of need.
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Pig & Khao
68 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002