If we talk about Philippine Cuisine here in New York City then Woodside, Queens would be the home of Filipino food here. Roosevelt Avenue is dubbed the Filipino restaurant row where Pinoy eateries, restaurants and bars are mostly lined up next to each other.
One place though stands out among the rest, this place is called Amazing Grace Restaurant located at 6902 Roosevelt Avenue. Sunday brunches are a staple all around the city and today I’m lucky enough to be here with Chef Vee Jay Javier and Pastry Chef Ira Dario. Being a former Woodside resident myself, taking the 7 train brings back a lot of memories like eating at different Filipino restaurants or going to downtown Flushing to shop for ingredients and watching the Mets play at Citi Field.
Chef Vee Jay met me in front of the restaurant as I got off the 69th Street stop on the 7 train and you are instantly reminded that you are in “Little Manila” right away. The smell of “Silogs” is in the air as it is Sunday brunch after all, and I could not wait to get our meal started. Chef started the meal with a cup of Hot Tsokolate and pan de sal which is typically breakfast staple in the Philippines.
What followed was the sound of the “Sisig” sizzling that started to make me drool with hunger, this was when of course I asked for my cup of garlic rice.
The pork dinuguan was next and this being my favorite dish of all time made me miss the Philippines so much. Of course, Crispy Pata and “Pancit” were served as well to make this brunch meal complete with all the necessary dishes one must consume when visiting this restaurant.
“Bopis” a savory dish made of pork innards like heart, liver and tripe mixed with ground pork and tossed in a tomato sauce with radishes was the highlight of the meal. I have not had this dish for quite some time now and was surprised when Chef brought it to the table. Chef told me that if he ever ate something that he liked he gets obsessed with re-creating the flavors of the dish until he perfects his own version which he did with his take on this classic “Pulutan”. He said that he often goes out to eat to try new things and tries to remember the various flavors of each dish and then uses his memory as a basis whether he comes up with new dishes or adding his personal touches to classic dishes that he’s enjoyed before.
Dessert is a must for us Filipinos as having a sweet tooth is second nature just like swimming in the ocean or following boxing and luckily for me Chef Ira Dario was working today as well. She sent out a “Leche Flan” with a brûlée crust that was just perfectly cooked with no air bubbles on the side.
Her specialty, the Ube Cake was so good that I finished the entire slice in less than a minute. The cake was light in texture and had perfectly balanced flavors that just made me kept eating and even thought about having another slice but I controlled my urges and this gives me a reason to come back here soon enough.
As I finished my meal I couldn’t help but feel so fortunate that these dishes that we featured today were the dishes that I ate growing up in the Philippines and remembered why I wanted to become a Chef in the first place.
Thank you to Chef Vee Jay Javier and Chef Ira Dario for the amazing meal and trip back memory lane.
Next stop we will be headed to Bilao to try this new Filipino restaurant started by 3 Filipina nurses as #KULINARYATRAVELS Subway Series continues…