Ihawan: Food from the Philippines

oxtail with peanut sauceI had absolutely no idea what kind of food people ate the Philippines. But I went out to dinner with some friends for Chinese New Year, and we got to talking about how it would be fun to form an international dinner club. We’d take turns picking restaurants to try, and you could only choose a restaurant from a country you’ve been to. My friends are very well-traveled, so I knew the choices would be interesting. Katie Lyon started us off with a jaunt out to Ihawan in Woodside, Queens (known as Little Manilla in NYC guides), for a traditional Philippine meal. The restaurant didn’t quite get the concept of “family style,” so we just ordered nine entrees and passed them up and down the table. The dish above was ox tail with peanut sauce. Pork with blood gravy was a surprise hit. I had cantaloupe juice, which sounds weird but was kind of amazing. I don’t think vegetarians would be crazy about this place, but I am an unrepentant carnivore and was totally in my element. We stopped off at a bakery down the street and had little purple taro cakes for dessert.

Filipino bakeryI wouldn’t say taro is my new favorite flavor, but it was fun to try out some new things a little off my usual beaten path. O, sige, aalis na ako…

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