Monday, September 1, 2014

Krystal’s Cafe

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I recently had dinner with two of my favorite food bloggers, Esther & Ulla.  Since we three all live in Queens, we decided to explore a bit more of our borough and try a place that was new to two of us, and a cuisine that I think we’re all somewhat not that well-versed in: Filipino food!  (Well, I let them do the ordering, to be honest…)

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I wanted to be adventurous, and so I chose a drink that the waiter explained had jello in it.  I guess I didn’t believe him, but when it came… the drink itself tasted like tamarind to me, but the jelly was actual jello, and not something I enjoyed very much.  However…

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Esther and Ulla both wisely chose mango juice, and Esther, after seeing my less-than-happy expression with the drink, offered to trade.  In fact, she practically insisted (after trying it), so I felt better about it cuz otherwise, I’d feel really bad about giving her something I didn’t like.  The mango nectar was awesome – like eating a fresh mango in the off-season.  I stress here that the original drink I ordered wasn’t bad, per se, just something that isn’t to my tastes.  That happens…

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Fried pork something arrived quickly and look at it… egg yolk just begging to be popped over the super hot sizzle plate.  We obliged. 

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Lumpia, Filipino egg rolls, basically one of the very few Filipino foods I’ve ever eaten in my life.  At the beginning of the meal, Esther and Ulla asked me if I’d ever had Filipino food, and I admitted that I’d had it two or three times in my life; once at Elvie’s Turo Turo, and once or twice at the home of a Filipino friend.  This was something I’d had every single time I’ve had Filipino food, varying degrees of ‘good’ – this was definitely good. 

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Dipping sauce for the lumpia; slightly sweet.  Reminds me of duck sauce to be honest, or McDonald’s sweet&sour sauce… 

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Noodles. 

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Chicken adobo.

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My plate!

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Chicken adobo over rice; I thought this was very mild and a little blah. 

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Lumpia – one coated in the sauce.  Don’t let the picture fool you; I had probably half that plate.  I loved the crisp exterior…

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And the meaty interior.  Nothing to dislike here. 

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The fried noodle dish, which was boosted considerably with a squirt of lemon juice, but wasn’t all that interesting overall. 

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Fried pork!  Crispy fatty bits of pork… but again, the flavor just was very muted and not much oomph.  I wanted something to pop.  Spicy or salty or sweet, but not one of those flavors stood out. 

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When we were done eating, our server brought over slices of cake and told us it was free dessert.  It wasn’t too sweet, and actually wasn’t a bad end – mocha/java flavored, and tasty in its own right.  But if you compare… nothing really stood out, and this fell in line with that: not overly sweet, not overly anything. 

Yvo says: I don’t think Filipno cuisine tends towards the mild side, but this place leaned hard on that note.  Everything was pretty one-note, with no flavors popping or sticking out, nothing offensive but nothing amazing either.  I found the food tasty enough, but not amazing, definitely not a place I’ll crave or feel strongly about going again.  I’d go if someone asked me to, but I won’t insist on going, either…  The prices were super reasonable.  (Also, apologies that I don’t know the names of most of the dishes.  I spaced on taking a picture of the menu.) 
middle of the road…

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Comments

11 Responses to “Krystal’s Cafe”
  1. TT says:

    free dessert sweet! shouldn’t you talk about how amazing it was since you didn’t pay for it?

    i don’t think i ever had filipino food before. i am intrigued, but maybe a different place than krystal’s.

  2. T.C. says:

    Alright, way to do a write-up on the “Little Manila” establishment.

    Me really like lumpia!!!!!!! They are the bomb when fried up right. Them and Vietnamese spring rolls.

    The noodle dish is pancit palabok I believe with the eggs.
    Chicken adobo is a great dish too!

    Oh, the sugary drink you had is probably sago’t gulaman. It looks like it…with tapioca pearls and jelly.

  3. KimHo says:

    I have visited some Filipino restaurants after really insisting some Filipino friends. They obliged but asked me to lower expectations. According to them, the main reason is that their “regular” food tends to be more on the lines of home cooked rather than restaurant type. There will be, of course, some more notables, like lechon (their version of roasted pork) but that is not something you will often find in a restaurant unless ordered way in advance. But, otherwise, yes, they can make a really good pork! :)

    • One of the amazing facts I read in, I believe, Steven Shaw’s book about eating in Asian restaurants was that there are something like 400 Filipino restaurants in all of the US… compared to thousands of Chinese, and slightly smaller numbers of Thai, Vietnamese, Korean restaurants. The reason behind this is that Filipino people traditionally eat at home – all of these dishes are created at home, and meals are eaten at home, with family, friends, whomever. It’s quite amazing when you think about how what might seem like such a small cultural difference – the preference to eat at home over celebrating in a restaurant – could translate so largely into this cuisine being virtually unknown in the US (from my perspective) insomuch that it’s hard to just go out and grab Filipino food, even in NYC, which has just about everything.

      All this to say that yes, it’s generally more food you find at someone’s home.

  4. chris says:

    Very fair review of the place. I don’t think I have ever tried Filipino food, but now I want to. Know of any good places in Manhattan to try?

    I’m also totally with you on my food wanting some oomph. I food isn’t amazing unless it has a special kick and it saturates your mouth with flavors and tastes. Thanks for a solid review.

  5. Hungry says:

    I haven’t tried any Filipino food besides lumpia. I don’t have any filipino friends that would bring me out. Wah!

  6. LawandFood says:

    Yvo, the first dish with the sizzling plate is Sisig. It’s chopped up pork parts fried on a hot plate with a raw egg on top. Never been to Krystal’s Cafe (hear they have the best Filipino BBQ) but loved the food at Engeline’s Restaurant and Bakeshop. Noah and I haven’t gotten around to writing up the post yet but here are the pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lawandfood/sets/72157625268656001/

  7. chakrateeze says:

    I had Filipino food years ago. Can’t really remember what I had (beyond it was pretty good), except… we had some banana spring rolls for dessert. Which blew our minds!! YUM!

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ulla Kjarval and LauraSiciliano-Rosen, Yvo. Yvo said: Cheap and yummy Filipino food in Jackson Heights with @nyculla & @ambitiousdelish http://feistyfoodie.com/2011/02/09/krystals-cafe/ [...]



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