I have big a HUGE fan of Leah Cohen ever since she appeared on Top Chef’s 5th season ten years ago. When I found out about her restaurant Pig & Khao, I naturally beelined all the way down to the Lower East Side to try her variety of Filipino-Thai-accented Southeastern Asian fare that left me wanting more, more, more even though I was completely full upon exit.
I’m not joking here when I say that I was entranced the minute I walked inside Pig & Khao. The space isn’t overtly large (no location in the LES really is), but you are instantly hit with the smells of all the delicious food that is being cooked upon arrival as its prepared only feet away from where you are sitting.
I took a friend there with me earlier this week, where he was a tad late and I was hangry AF and wanted to eat immediately. So while my friend was stuck on the F train, I decided to nibble on some delicious snacks like their Chicharron and Roasted Peanuts. Simple in that we have all had these before, but the upgrade here is in the coconut vinegar for the former, and the lemongrass in the latter. It added a pungent flavor to both, and made for a great start to the meal.
Pig & Khao’s menu, outside of the snacks, is set up in two categories: small and large plates with side orders as an option. Leah and team really do a great job at the fare that they provided, as each item that we tried was perfectly executed with what she had in mind.
Keep in mind: many of these items are very spice-heavy. The Thai Mushroom Salad was a big example of that, but as someone who likes spice and heat, I can handle it. This came with a mushroom trio, seared shrimp coconut cream and a chili-jam dressing, the most latter of which is what made it so spicy but so damn good.
Another small plate option that didn’t pack a lot of heat but a ton of flavor was their Pork Belly Adobo. You really can’t go wrong with pork belly, and Pig & Khao expertly prepared it for us with using soy sauce, vinegar, szechuan peppercorns and crispy garlic as a base for it with a slow poached egg to compliment the dish. Superbly yummy indeed.
A side dish that is beyond worth trying is their Thai-lote, which is the Thai version of the classic Mexican dish called Elote (corn on the cob). Their take consists of corn split into three, with sambui butter, coconut and kaffir adorning its delicious kernels. A must have when there.
As for their large plates, I would definitely recommend their Half Hainanese Duck, which came with duck fat rice (YES THIS EXISTS OMG), ginger sauce and chili sauce. Perfect. Fall of the bone meat, just superb all over and made for a great end of a meal. Pig & Khao may just be one of the best restaurants I have reviewed this year… and all time. Check it out for yourself ASAP.
For more information on Pig & Khao, please check out their official website.