On Wednesday and Thursday nights, a Filipino gastropub in the Lower East Side in New York City offers diners a chance to eat with their hands. That’s right, no plates, no forks, no knives, but make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands first! This is Jeepney’s spin on a traditional Filipino family-style feast.
Although eating with my hands is not new to me, what made this dinner particularly interesting was I dined with non-Filipinos who are not used to eating that way. We arrived with our food already laid out in banana leaves. With garlic and adobo rice as base, piled on top were longganisa (sausage), tocino (cured pork), lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls), defeated chicken (Mindanao-style adobo), dampa fry (fried whole fish), pinakbet salad (sauteed vegetables with fish sauce), and Bicol express (slow roasted spicy pork).
After ordering drinks consisting of Filipino beers and tropical cocktails made with fruits found in the Philippines, the waiter explained each individual dish on the table. We were then given hot towels as we rolled up our sleeves. The only other Filipino in our group of 7 then demonstrated how to eat with our hands. After being hesitant at first, we soon dug in and discovered the different flavors of Filipino cuisine…sweet, salty, sour and spicy. After cleaning out our table, we were served halo-halo for dessert which is a mixture of shaved ice, milk, beans and fruits.
The verdict: the non-Filipinos in our group truly enjoyed the experience and specifically liked the tocino, dampa fry, lumpiang shanghai, garlic rice and halo halo. I, of course, liked everything, but I thought that the Bicol express could use a little more heat. I also enjoyed my first taste of Red Horse beer, an alternative to the more popular San Miguel.
For this truly authentic take on the Filipino way of eating, all you have to do is gather at least 4 people, make a reservation more than a month in advance, and pick 2 appetizers and 3 entrees from the e-mailed menu that you will receive a week before your most unique dining experience.
201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003
Written by Faith Azul-Evia. Faith is an avid flashpacker (a slightly older version of a backpacker with a bigger budget but still wants to avoid a packaged version of a destination) and believes that her travels start as soon as she steps out of her NY apartment building. She is in constant search of new places to explore, eat, drink, sleep, spa, run, hike and yoga. She has been to over 40 countries on 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica someday. Follow her @faithflashpacks on Instagram.