Sunday, December 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Ihawan

Category: Filipino
Neighborhood: Woodside
4006 70th St
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 205-1480

4.0 / 5.0 star rating


You'll most likely find a photo of this place under the definition for hole-in-the-wall.

Entering this place fills me with a sudden longing for my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Lysol, and some industrial-strength bug spray, but an intoxicating whiff of greasy pork barbecue in the air, and wham! The fact that this place has allegedly been cited for health concerns suddenly seems inconsequential.

Ihawan arguably has the best barbecue, chicharron bulaklak, and morcon in New York, which, considering that the area it's in is colloquially called Little Manila, is no easy feat. For the portion size, authenticity, and quality of food, the price is more than fair. For a $7 lunch special, you get two choices of entrees and the Philippines' unsung hero, rice. Their barbecue (pork, beef, chicken) is grilled to flavourful, moist, golden brown perfection. Unlike most Pilipino barbecue I've eaten, Ihawan's version stands well on its own; dipping it in the sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, onions, garlic, chili peppers) almost seems like an insult to the barbecue deliciousness. As a testament to its onolicious factor, my pork-loving German-Turk friend declared it was love at first taste between him and the chicharron bulaklak (deep-fried pork ruffles). Despite my warning appetizing description of dinuguan as "pork intestines and/or ground pork in pork blood soup," aforementioned friend eagerly ordered one for himself and declared it delicious. He actually ordered two chicharron bulaklaks, pork barbecue, and lumpia shanghai to go.

Bottom line: if you're not squeamish about the possibility of New York's friendly neighbourhood cockroaches sashaying a la America's Next Top Model, don't care about shrill voices catching up on gossip as background, and aren't OCD about dried rice grains (mumho) lingering on your recently washed utensils, then I say Ihawan is just the place for you.

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