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The famous Talde, owned by Fil-Am chef Dale Talde in Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y., has put Philippine dishes in the New York culinary map.  (Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine)


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THE widely-circulated New York Magazine, in a recent article, said New Yorkers may be “finally ready” for Philippine cuisine and listed at least nine Filipino restaurants catering to this little-known market.

“It seems that New Yorkers are finally ready for Filipino food, which has long languished in the shadow of Thai, Indian, Chinese and other Asian standbys,” wrote the magazine, and reported by the Filipino Reporter in its Dec. 13-19, 2013 edition.

The Filipino restaurants mentioned by the magazine were Vekslers, “serving Filipino and Spanish cuisines”; Pig and Khao, “a blend of Filipino and Thai influences”; Lumpia Shack Snackbar, “with Chinese elements”; Papa’s Kitchen, “known for its affordable Filipino dishes”; and Talde, owned by Fil-Am chef Dale Talde.

Others included Pan de Sal, “a Filipino-style bakery”; Maharlika, which highlights “ancestral cuisine”; Ugly Kitchen, “serving Filipino drinks and an Asian fusion menu”; and Jeepney, “a gastropub serving a modern take on Filipino food.”

But these places are not generally known to the Filipino masses in New York.

We ourselves have not been to these new places, however worthwhile they may be.

However, there are a number of Filipino restaurants in Queens, some in Manhattan and Long Island, but most of them are found in Jersey City, where there is a large concentration of Filipinos.

We have been to the former Cendrillon before it moved to Brooklyn under the new name Purple Yam.

We’re glad to know, from the same magazine, that Purple Yam was chosen by the famous Michelin Guide as a “Bib Gourmand,” for its excellent and budget-friendly cuisine.

Its owners are Romy Dorotan, a Bicolano, and Amy Besa, of Zambales.

“We can’t afford the rent in our old location anymore,” Amy told this writer at one time.

In the early 90s, there was a thriving Filipino restaurant on 21st St. in Manhattan called Manila, owned and operated by the late Oscar Anota, a former Manila cop from Leyte.

Manila was the closest to an elegant and roomy dining destination for Filipinos and foreigners alike.

Large parties and anniversaries were held there.

But business began to wane with the “invasion” of Korean and Japanese restaurants all over the city.

There is, in fact, a virtual Koreatown today on 32nd St. in Manhattan, just off the Empire State Bldg.

Early on, starting in the late 70s up to early 80s, another well-known restaurant serving quality Filipino food was Maharlika, managed by the noted restaurateur Nora Daza of Manila.

It was housed at the basement of the Philippine Center on Fifth Ave. and 46th St. and owned by the Philippine Government.

Its more popular attraction was a nightly show by the Folk Arts Dance Group, under the patronage of former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos.

But Maharlika’s reign was cut short by the gunslaying of a Filipino security man by a drunken patron after an altercation outside the premises.

Much earlier there was the Philippine Garden on 29th St. owned by Ado Escudero, now owner of the popular resort Villa Escudero near Pagsanjan, Laguna.

There had been other Filipino restaurants that have come and gone through the years.

We look forward to the day when Filipinos can say, “Let’s meet at Maharlika.”

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