Throughout my culinary journey, Filipino food is a cuisine that I haven’t had a chance to explore as frequently as, say, the more popular Thai counterpart. I have had a pretty satisfying meal at Pig and Khao in Lower East Side, but otherwise can’t recall when I tasted the food of the Philippines known for its diverse influences from its Asian neighbors. When my wife Jun and I set up a dinner double date with another couple with a husband who is a chef at a restaurant in Manhattan, I felt being adventurous. Jeepney in East Village, the self-described Filipino “gastropub” (whatever that means), has long been on my radar so we decided to check it out on a Friday evening. Overall, the food at Jeepney was fun and experimental.
Unlike the spicy kick of Thai food, the Filipino dishes from Jeepney lean more toward sweet and sour. Even though Jun and I love everything spicy, we didn’t mind the different direction that Jeepney was taking us in the flavor department. Lumpiang Shanghai, the restaurant’s take on Chinese spring rolls, was an excellent appetizer, and even though the meat could’ve been slightly more tender, the banana ketchup pork ribs were still delicious with the spiced banana ketchup glaze. Despite the funkiness to texture from different pig parts as varied as ears, cheek, snout and belly, sisig tacos (a fun take on the classic Filipino dish) are also worth trying if you feel adventurous.
The main dishes had varied levels of success. While our chef friend was a fan of Bicol Express, a dish of slow roasted pork shoulder with coconut milk, shrimp paste bagoong (a type of Filipino condiment) and chilies, I felt the flavor was overly sweet and quickly undermined the meat. Instead, I preferred the chicken adobo (another popular Filipino dish) for its rustic touch. The best main dish of the night, however, clearly belonged to the whole red snapper with blistered chili and cucumber-tomato salad. The fish was very nicely cooked with gentle flavor; by the time everyone was done with the fish, only its skeleton remained thanks to Jun’s heroic efforts to pick out all the fleshes out for everyone to consume. For dessert, the lone menu of halo halo consisting of shaved ice and purple yam ice cream (another Filipino favorite that has gained immense popularity in NYC dining scene in recent years) was serviceable if not memorable.
Getting a reservation at Jeepney wasn’t too difficult, but the dining space gets quickly packed during prime times so always booking in advance is recommended. There is a full bar with some interesting cocktail and beer options. The whole scene at the restaurant looks somewhat of a kitschy tiki bar, but for a casual night out in East Village, it didn’t bother us too much. Filipino cuisine still has not established a foundation in New York, but if you feel adventurous, Jeepney is a worth place to stop by for some interesting foods.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 201 First Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 533-4121