Pig & Khao

An exclusive pork belly feast for serious meat lovers

By Molly Aronica

“Top Chef” fans may remember chef Leah Cohen from season five of the cutthroat competition show, when she duked it out with Carla Hall, Fabio Viviani, and Hosea Rosenberg. These days Cohen is delighting New Yorkers with her unique version of Filipino cuisine at this hip Lower East Side restaurant. The setting is eminently casual—the space itself decked out with cozy dark wood tables and chairs while hip-hop plays over the speakers. And yes, as the name suggests, the menu at Pig and Khao is heavily pork-centric.

Fitting into this scene perfectly is Cohen’s pork belly lechon dinner. The flattened pork is stuffed with a paste of lemongrass and ginger and rolled like porchetta. A true treat for meat lovers, it’s a marvel of textures, between the crispy crunchy skin on the outside and the soft and juicy meat of the belly underneath. A master at balancing flavors, Cohen treats the pork to a perfectly briny and spicy vinegar sauce that cuts through the fattiness superbly.
Alongside this masterstroke comes her Filipino paella, which looks pretty traditional at first glance, though it’s what goes into it that makes all the difference. A base of coconut sticky rice, with a delicious crunch from being prepared in the paella pan, is topped with bite-size pieces of longanisa sausage, clams, mussels, and shrimp. Every element is cooked to perfection, all coming together in a harmony of sweet, savory, salty bliss. Squaring off the meal is a generous portion of cho sum—dark and leafy Chinese greens that are bathed in a delicious broth of ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, and garlic. Even the hungriest and most enthusiastic foursome will be able to gorge themselves on this embarrassment of riches, and still have plenty of leftovers to take home.

hours

Dinner: Sun–Thu 5 PM–10 PM; Tue–Thu 5 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–midnight
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11 AM–3:30 PM

price range

$23 (half-chicken inasal) to $32 (short rib rendang)
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