Breakfast Without Borders: Pig and Khao’s Porky Goodness

By Annie Wu, Epoch Times
July 28, 2016 4:14 pm Last Updated: July 31, 2016 1:09 pm

BreakFastLogoWeb-newThis restaurant by former “Top Chef” contestant Leah Cohen is aptly named, given the marked presence of pork in Southeast Asian cuisine, and in particular, Filipino food. Cohen, who is half Filipino herself, serves several traditional dishes on the brunch menu, made with her own tweaks.

The champorado ($7), for example, is a Filipino chocolate rice pudding dish swirled with coconut and whole milk: lightly sweet, warm, and comforting. In some regions of the Philippines, the pudding is sprinkled with bits of crispy fried fish for a sweet-savory pairing. Cohen uses a more approachable, New Yorker-friendly alternative: bacon.

Longaniza sausage with garlic rice and fried egg ($12, plus $4 for garlic rice) is a breakfast staple. The pork sausage is seasoned differently according to regional styles; Cohen uses Pampanga Province sausages, with a wonderfully spicy and piquant combination of chili pepper, paprika, garlic, sugar, salt, and tamarind. Pig and Khao’s garlic rice is loaded with more than just the allium: shrimp paste adds an extra layer of briny funk.

The grill right in the dining room sizzles as the cooks prepare all sorts of glorious meats. Grilled pork jowl ($13) comes as a pile of tender pork slices—with bits of jelly-bouncy cartilage—tossed with charred Brussels sprouts and mint leaves. All of that is drizzled with a zesty, pungent, lime-chili fish sauce.

For a sweet breakfast dish, try the pandan custard donuts ($8), Cohen’s take on a Thai breakfast dish of pandan custard on toast. Blocks of fried dough are dipped into a custard made with the Southeast Asian plant, which tastes like citrus mixed with banana.

Pandan custard, made from the Southeast Asian plant, with fried donuts. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Pandan custard, made from the Southeast Asian plant, with fried donuts. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Pig and Khao
68 Clinton St.

Breakfast Talk With Chef Leah Cohen 

Leah Cohen, chef-owner of Pig and Khao. (Justine Dungo)
Leah Cohen, chef-owner of Pig and Khao. (Justine Dungo)

Epoch Times: Which breakfast dishes do you miss the most from the Philippines and Southeast Asia?

Leah Cohen: I love eating noodle soup for breakfast whenever I’m in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam. I had this amazing eel rice noodle soup in Vietnam last year.

In the Philippines they sun-dry fish and then fry it and serve it for breakfast. It’s served with garlic rice and a vinegar dipping sauce. I absolutely have to have this for breakfast multiple times whenever I visit.

Epoch Times: Do you prefer a sweet or savory breakfast?

Ms. Cohen: I actually love a combination of both.

Epoch Times: What is your daily breakfast routine? What is your morning drink of choice?

Ms. Cohen: This is going to sound terrible but I usually skip breakfast. My morning drink of choice is a Red Eye [coffee with a shot of espresso].

Epoch Times: What’s your breakfast splurge?

Ms. Cohen: If I splurge on breakfast I usually go to Russ & Daughters and get some lox and make an everything bagel sandwich with scallion cream cheese, tomato, red onion, and lox.

Epoch Times: What’s your preferred hangover cure?

Ms. Cohen: Garlic fried rice, sunny side up egg, and either bacon or longaniza. And a regular Coke or ginger ale.

Epoch Times: What is your breakfast guilty pleasure?

Ms. Cohen: I love waffles with ice cream, berries, Nutella, and whipped cream. What’s not to love about it?