Yet another Filipino restaurant is gracing New York, and will feature Pinoy dishes "not talked about" in the city though a commonplace in home soil.
Eric Valdez, the Filipino chef de cuisine of an Indian restaurant helmed by Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar, is launching Naks over the East Village neighborhood this year.
On the restaurant's website, they noted that "naks" is slang for surprise and admiration, "which are the feelings we want to conjure up during a meal."
Valdez, who grew up in Manila and moved to the United States when he was 21, said the menu will list about 14 à la carte dishes.
These include bagnet, bas-oy, butter chicken, dinakdakan, dinamita, dinuguang kambing, ginataang kohol, halamang dagat, igado, igat, imbaliktad, inihaw na balat, kapis, kinilaw na bat, lapu-lapu, lechon liempo, lumpiang toge, morcon, pancit batil patong, pasulbot, pritong itik, singkamas at mangga, soup no. 5, and swaki.
Naks will also offer the traditional kamayan or boodle fight, the communal feast in which food is served on banana leaves and eaten by hand.
Each meal will have a welcome drink served in an eggshell inspired by balut. But instead of a duck embryo, the drink comprises bilimbi or kamias, spiced coconut vinegar, and duck stock, according to local food magazine Grub Street. “I want to serve dishes that are not talked about,” Valdez said.
In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, Valdez said that a decade after moving to the US, he realized that Filipino food isn't represented the way he wanted it to be.
"We Filipinos are afraid of our own cuisine. We often apologize that our food is too brown, garlicky, and has a strange aroma, thereby downgrading our own culture instead of embracing and appreciating its beauty," he said. "I wanted to change the narrative on how we look at Filipino food by serving dishes in their original and truest form."
He said the offerings of Naks are inspired by the food he grew up eating, as well as his family's recipes.
Valdez, Pandya, and Mazumdar also told Grub Street they held an eight-day food tour in the Philippines to prepare their dishes, having "hours of just eating, eating, eating."
The restaurant will open sometime in the third week of September. (with reports from Brooke Villanueva)