City Pulse

By Arielle Shipper

The term “Asian fusion” most often evokes images of oversized suburban chow houses serving multi-colored cocktails alongside sushi and dishes of nebulous Szechuan-East Indian-random-tropical-island origin.

Pig & Khao, Top Chef alum Leah Cohen’s latest venture with the Fatty crew, seeks to achieve the opposite vibe. In a city replete with upscale Chinese and Japanese restaurants, Cohen’s carefully orchestrated Filipino-Thai cuisine is a welcome breath of fresh air.

From the beginning, Pig & Khao asks you to throw away expectations of fusion pretension and to focus on the food. The pressed tin ceiling, cozy chef’s bar and Christmas light-adorned back patio seamlessly blend comfortable and chic. One unexpectedly bright green wall invigorates an otherwise dim room, the decorative equivalent of a spring of cilantro atop a bowl of hot curry.

Cohen herself works the tiny open kitchen, expediting orders, wielding saucepans and chatting with curious diners. On the night I was there she wore a shirt that read “pleasure dispenser,” and perched a straw porkpie hat on her head, her attitude as unassuming and nonchalant as the restaurant atmosphere she cultivates.

And the food? It’s brash, it’s bold, and it’s a calculated mix of the exotic and familiar. While Cohen’s menu contains a lot of her namesake ingredients (“khao” means rice in Thai), it’s certainly not your stereotypical “pork fat rules” joint. Rather, it’s evidence of a well-researched concentration on fusing flavors—with an admittedly porky base. In place of bacon and pork belly, she uses pig’s head and pig’s leg: the same animal, yet presented in a subtle, sophisticated and non-ironic fashion.

Asian and tropical influences permeate both the cocktails and food, in combinations that are unexpected but not gratuitous. Sangria is flavored with assam skin and green mango. Salmon skin chips pay homage to local culture, but Cohen pairs them with a side of chili jam to add a playful pan-Asian funk.

Signature dishes are sizzling sisig (pork head, liver, chili & whole egg) and khao soi (red curry, coconut milk, chicken, egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots). The sisig comes on an appropriately sizzling platter, and is all at once meaty and creamy with barely-cooked egg. The dish is a perfect blend of fat, salt and acid—a virtual hangover cure in the making. Apprehensive meat eaters need not fear: the meat is well-chopped and well-cooked, and its familiar flavors belie the nose-to-tail origin of the dish.

Khao soi is a noodle curry for the 21st century. Its flavors are complex, layered with spicy red curry, creamy coconut milk, and a deeply funky undertone reminiscent of fish sauce. Crisp noodles are a welcome textural foil to the fresh egg noodles that retain a satisfying snap, and little jewels of perfectly-cooked chicken wait to be discovered by eagerly-wielded chopsticks.

Desserts are not the focus of Pig & Khao, though you’d be well-advised to follow your sizzling and spicy adventures with halo-halo, a literal “mix-mix” of shaved ice, leche flan, ube (purple yam) ice cream and assorted toppings. It’s slightly exotic, definitely intriguing, and a notch above your typical bowl of French vanilla. Much like the restaurant itself.

Pig & Khao, 68 Clinton Street (Btwn Stanton & Rivington), 212-920-4485

See more at

Originally published November 2012
Leave a Comment
Become a BN NYC Subscriber


Currently Popular

Deal of the Day

Social Media

Latest News
  • City Pulse: Book Your Summer Memories
  • Collect + curate your social media images into your own personal book at Perfect as a way to capture this time for years to come.

  • T-fal waffle maker_featured
  • Metro Home: Hot In The Kitchen
  • Hot in the Kitchen in our Metro Home section highlights a quartet of new products for grilling cheese, starting your day off right, staying healthy, and cooking with less mess.

  • BB_Caribana_featured
  • Beauty & The Best: Featuring Nuxe
  • Beauty & The Best features organic Rosa y Fruta, the Orvis blazer, Nuxe’s genius Travel Kit, the Caribana Shop, Fat Hair and a new, pudgy Burts Bees lip crayon.

  • City Pulse: Gifts (with the Most)
  • Is someone in your family setting sail for college or do you have a host or hostess to thank for summer hospitality? See our gift ideas in City Pulse.

BN NYC Podcasts
  • Donna_Karan_NYFW_2013_featured
  • NYFW Fall 2013: DKNY Fashion Redux
  • Recently launching a retrospective collection for Opening Ceremony, Donna Karan returned to the 90′s for DKNY’s sporty Fall 2013 Collection.

  • BN_Podcast_Jerry_Jones_Laura_Mercier
  • Laura Mercier Cosmetics
  • Jerry Johnson, International Makeup Artist from Laura Mercier, works on transforming BNNYC’s Gillian Weeks with a full complement of Laura Mercier products.

Links We Love
  • Alexandra Taylor
  • Beauty in The Bag
  • Carrie Parry
  • City of Gloss Angeles
  • Kimberly McDonald
  • Taffeta Darlings
  • The Dessertist
  • Wendy Brandes

  • Visit Fashion Industry Network

    Free Skincare Gift with Purchase of Any Tria Device