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Karihan ni Tata Bino

1/2 * Closed. I'm not sure when it changed hands but it's now Burmese Cafe (12/22/06)

It's rare that I get to indulge a Filipino food craving. James has issues with the cuisine, which I suppose stems from bad childhood memories. I have an aversion to Banquet frozen fried chicken and taco salad with Catalina dressing, so it happens.

The dining room is small, and on the Sunday afternoon we visited, full to the brim.  You almost feel like youre invading someones house, a friendly house, but still. The lack of anonymity doesnt bother me. Everyone was watching a horror movie in Tagalog on TV. Unfortunately, the screen was directly behind my head so I actually had to concentrate on my food. I did get the gist, via James, that the plot had something to do with curses stemming from being too lucky.

I'm crazy for lechon, and fried pork in general. Crispy pata seemed like an interesting variant. It's translated as pig knuckle, but I think there's some leg in there too, not just a foot. You cant be squeamish about fat and odd bits with Filipino cuisine (fats the least of it–ears, intestines, blood, its all to be eaten). With pata, you get a contrast of crunchy skin, gooey insides and porcine flesh. The vinegary dipping sauce is a tart foil for the grease. We also tried do order something vegetable heavy, minus coconut milk and/or fried preparation, and opted for  fresh lumpia, which is kind of like chop suey filled crepes drizzled with peanut sauce. To round things out, we also ordered two grilled pork skewers.

I was completely satisfied, but it might be a while before I return. If only because that part of Queens contains such concentration of food goodness that it seems a shame to not experiment a little.

Karihan ni Tata Bino * 71-34 Roosevelt Ave., JacksonHeights, NY

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