Manila Social Club

I was a huge fan of Miller’s, so when I found out that they’ve been replaced by a new Filipino-French restaurant, I knew I had to try them out. Manila Social Club, located on the corner of Hope Street in Williamsburg, serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 4pm. We arrived right in the middle of brunch time and wait about 15 minutes before we snagged two seats by the bar.

The menu is small, but varied and they’re currently only serving coffee and mocktails. The mocktails all sounded super delicious, but as we were catching a movie right after, I didn’t want to drink too much! Once you order, they bring over complimentary biscuits with ube spread. The ube spread was so good! It was sweet and buttery and spread so evenly on my biscuit. I’m not usually a fan of biscuits, but I gobbled them right up.

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We started with an order of the Lumpia Shanghai ($8.00) to share. Lumpia is sort of a Filipino egg roll of an assortment of goodies wrapped inside. These came with longaniza, or a type of Spanish sausage similar to chorizo. The lumpia were perfectly bite-sized and tasted amazing with the dipping sauces.

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We also ordered a side of Spam Fries ($7.00) to nibble on while we waited for our appetizers. I’m convinced these “fries” aren’t made with real Spam because it wasn’t overly salty or had the processed texture known to Spam. Regardless, they were very tasty – not too salty at all.

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For my entrée, I had the Mango Soufflé Pancakes ($14.00) with Ube Ice Cream. They offer this dish with syrup, but you don’t even really need it because the ube ice cream is more than enough. The pancakes are very moist and soft – when smeared with the cold ube ice cream, it almost melts in your mouth. I really like how there are little mango chunks in the pancake.

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The Boyfriend had the Meat & Eggs ($14.00), which features garlic fried rice, pea shoot + radish salad, two eggs any style, and a meat of your choice. He picked the Longaniza, since it’s a bit harder to get that elsewhere. The longaniza had a hint of spice, but wasn’t overpowering. It paired very well with the garlic rice. The Boyfriend was already full from our appetizers but he finished his entire dish!

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I think there was a mix up with the orders and our entrée orders didn’t get processed until much later in our time at the restaurant. The manager comp-ed our appetizers since we waited 20-30 minutes for our entrées. They didn’t have to, but it was a really nice gesture and showed how well-versed they are in customer service. I really appreciated that they proactively did that without any further prompting from us besides a casual inquiry on our food. I highly recommend Manila Social Club – be sure to try anything with Ube!

Pig & Khao

For a joint birthday dinner, our group of 10 people ended up at Pig & Khao for some Asian Fusion/Filipino food. I’ve had Filipino food before – the legit kind that you only find in the middle of Queens – so my standards are set pretty high. About half of us arrived right on time for our 6pm reservation while the other half was a bit later. They offer Happy Hour drinks until 7pm so we opted to get something to drink while waiting. All cocktails are $8 while glasses of Prosecco and Riesling are $5. They’re pretty generous with their wine pours so I think it’s their best bet.

We opted to order a la carte, despite the fact that their dishes are meant to be eaten family style. We always over-order when we do family style! I had the Banana Leaf Cod ($14.00) with a big bowl of Coconut Rice ($3.00). The cod was cooked perfectly but it was definitely a bit on the spicy side. The flavors were all there and I really liked the coconut cream sauce they put on top of it.

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Three of my friends got the Sizzling Sisig ($14.00), which is pork head cooked with chili and whole egg on a hot plate. I’ve had Sisig before and Pig & Khao’s version was pretty good. It wasn’t as spicy as your traditional sisig, which was nice. But I felt like the flavors were a bit too toned down as a result of trying to appeal to everyone’s tastebuds. It was pretty tasty – but not quite as good as traditional sisig.

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Our food came at different times, which was something our waitress warned us about since we ordered individual plates instead of family style. Everything was very good though. The only complaint I have is that an open kitchen meant our clothes and hair all smelled like Filipino food and barbecue!

Smorgasburg

Saturday afternoon brought the Boyfriend and I to Smorgasburg on the Williamsburg waterfront. Smorgasburg, which runs every Saturday and Sunday, is host to over 75 different vendors. Each visit is slightly different than the previous one as some vendors change weekly based on availability. This Saturday, we started off at Dough, which is usually located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. They didn’t have my favorite flavor (blood-orange) so we settled for Passionfruit Chocolate Nibs ($2.75 each). The doughnut itself was very good but I thought the passionfruit flavor was a bit weird. I think next time I’ll probably try their famous Hibiscus instead. IMG_4506 As I was waiting on the line for Dough, the Boyfriend stumbled on the infamous Ramen Lab’s Ramen Burger line. At 11:20am, the line was already 188 burgers deep. We were #189 and #190. They were serving 400 burgers that day so we were about the halfway point. They only allow one burger per person so make sure if only one person is lining up for a group – round up the group before ordering! IMG_4518 IMG_4523 The line is pretty slow (took us TWO hours to get our burgers!) because they only have one grill and it is split into two sections – one side for burgers and another side for the ramen “buns”. There is one cook on each side with three workers unwrapping the burger patties and “buns”. One worker mans the register while two other workers sets up the burger. IMG_4520 You start with one ramen “bun”, add mixed greens, put on the burger patty, a spoonful of their special sauce and it’s all finished with a handful of chopped scallions and the other ramen “bun”. The burger is then wrapped in a circular wrapper that allows you to eat the burger without taking it out of the wrapper. Genius! Each burger is $8, which isn’t too bad considering how much work goes into preparing one. IMG_4524 IMG_4526 IMG_4527 We quickly found a nearby ledge and began feasting. Boy, that first bite was absolutely heavenly. We both thought the ramen “buns” were very tasty – and intriguing! The ramen was still chewy and bouncy despite the fact that they were in a solid block form. The patty was well seasoned and the special sauce was a nice compliment. It tasted a bit like Chapagetti sauce, which is a sweet black bean sauce used in a Korean instant noodle dish. I’m not sure if I would wait 2 hours again but it was pretty damn good. IMG_4529 As the Boyfriend waited, I would walk around and bring back goodies to the Ramen Burger line. First we tried Landhaus’ Maple Glazed Bacon. It’s more pork belly than bacon but regardless it was very well seasoned. They come $3 for 1 piece or $8 for 3 pieces. I opted for 3 pieces, which we split between the two of us. Because it’s barbequed, the bacon was a bit tougher than we’re used to so biting was a bit hard. You’re better off being a piggy and sticking the entire piece in your mouth. IMG_4509 My second trip around brought us two new items. First was Takumi Taco’s Spicy Tuna Taco ($6.00), which features big eye tuna, jicama, avocado, cucumber, and spicy mayo on top of a fried gyoza shell. The gyoza shell was very crunchy and held together better than your typical corn taco shell. The tuna was just the right amount of spicy but I wish there was a bit more for the price tag! IMG_4511 I also brought back Lumpia Shack’s Filipino-style spring rolls ($7.00 for 6 pieces). I opted for the vegetarian option – Truffled Adobo Mushroom, which features three types of mushrooms: cremini, shitake, and enoki. The spring rolls are topped with truffled aioli and pickled red chili peppers. The spring rolls were super crunchy but be careful because they are spicy! IMG_4510 The last treat that I brought back to the line was Pecan Patti’s Sweet Tea, which was a hot seller that day. Each sweet tea comes in a huge mason jar ($6.00), which is definitely the best deal out of all the vendors at Smorgasburg. The portion size lasts the longest and you get to keep the jar! I opted for the Citrus Sweet Tea, which features Orange, Lemon, Pineapple and Black Tea. The combination is refreshing, sweet and light all at the same time. I wanted to go back for another one but the line was way too long! It was even longer than the Mighty Quinn line! But I highly recommend this one – it was my favorite after the Ramen Burger. IMG_4516 IMG_4517 Although I didn’t try as many vendors this time as I did on my last Smorgasburg visit, I definitely thought the ones I did try this time were pretty outstanding. This is the first time I have waited two hours for a food item and I thought it was worth it. The Ramen Burger lived up to the hype and the sweet tea really quenched my thirst during the two-hour wait. I wish they made bottled versions of that stuff because it is delicious! You’ll have to go try it out for yourself!

Ihawan

Dinner Outing time! This time we ventured to Woodside in Queens for some authentic Filipino food. A Filipino friend suggested Ihawan instead of Maharlika in Manhattan because it’s a lot cheaper and a lot more authentic. I can’t attest to the authenticity because I have nothing to compare it to but Ihawan is definitely a lot cheaper!

We were seated right away and given menus to look over. Since it’s a club-sponsored dinner outing, we each had $20 to order food and I took complete advantage of it. I know the ices are usually eaten as dessert but I got an Avocado Milk Ice ($5.00). It sounds and looks kind of weird but when mixed thoroughly, it is delicious! The avocado is very buttery and when mixed with the milk, it is absolutely divine! If you don’t want it for your main drink, definitely try it for dessert!

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I ordered the Lechon Kawali ($7.75), which is served with liver sauce and rice. Lechon is pork chunks that are deep fried until it’s super crispy. It tastes a bit like Chinese Roast Pig but a lot crispier. The liver sauce that you dunk it in is sweet and tangy, which makes for a nice combination with the salty pork. I got my Lechon as an appetizer but it’s definitely a big enough portion for an entrée.

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My entrée was the BBQ Pork Skewers ($7.75), which comes two to an order with rice. I wish I could be more eloquent in describing these but I really only have two words – so good! I’ve never had barbeque like this before. The pork was cut thinly and very well seasoned. Most of the time, I don’t like barbeque pork because it tends to be dry but this was not the case at all. They sell the skewers at $2.50 each so if you don’t want to commit to an entire meal, try one out!

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Everything at Ihawan was absolutely delicious! The food was all very well seasoned. For my first time trying Filipino food, I was not disappointed. If you’re in the area or just looking for an adventure, definitely try out Ihawan!