Um, brunch where? you might ask.
Cendrillon restaurant in SoHo flies under the radar because of its Filipino menu. Not one of the better-known Asian cuisines, Filipino fare is a mix of Chinese, Malay, Spanish, and even American influences. (How else to explain the fascination with canned meats?) But this isn’t the typical Filipino buffet-style diner that you might find in other places with a high concentration of Filipinos (NJ, Toronto, the West Coast). Chef Romy Dorotan brings his own contemporary, but still authentic, take to Filipino food. Which means you won’t find anything with Spam in it, but your Filipino grandmother would still recognize the fried lumpia egg rolls.
New York may be the only city in the world where you can name any ethnic or global cuisine and find someplace dishing it up (hello, Caracas Arepa Bar). But it’s not the faithful menu of dishes from the old country that interests me as much as the New World interpretations that reflect the chef’s newfound American roots.
As a second-generation Filipino American married to a Hungarian-Romanian-Canadian (I can’t even begin to count how many hyphens our two-year-old has), I love New York’s United Nations diversity—but I lovelovelove how so many individual everyday New Yorkers are a global mix in themselves: the Ethiopian chef raised in Sweden, the Chinese-Jewish journalist who speaks Arabic, the Cajun-Italian fashion designer (ok, I’m beginning to make these up here).
Which brings me back to Cendrillon—a top-notch (the New York Times gave it a two-star review in 2005), contemporary Filipino restaurant with a French name, located right around the corner from a Kate Spade boutique.
Here’s what I’d order for brunch: kalamansi (Philippine lime) juice to drink, ukoy (shrimp, tofu, and bean-sprout fritters) to start, followed by tocino (pork sausage) & eggs with garlic fried rice, and ending with halo-halo (“iced dessert with red beans, coconut, jackfruit, sugar palm fruit, coconut & pineapple gel, toasted young rice topped with purple yam ice cream”).
Mmm, I love New York.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Photo: 536 via the Intelligent Travel Flickr pool