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Renee’s Kitchenette

I can't believe I forgot that Sripraphai is closed on Wednesdays. The last time Sripraphai was unexpectedly closed we ventured to Rice, further east on Roosevelt Ave., which made me sad because everyone wanted chopsticks, brown rice and fish sauce-less food. I wanted to pick up some mithai and those adorable Thai marzipan fruits for a party I was throwing and Wednesday night was really the only chance I thought I'd get (I was able to go back Friday, as it turned out).

Coming up with a plan B wasn't easy. Not in the mood for anything Hispanic or Indian, I was gung ho on either Malaysian or Filipino, two cuisines I can never get James to agree on (despite spending nearly two weeks on an eating journey in Malaysia this summer). Finally, he relented and said he could go for some grilled skewers from Ihawan.

Yay, victory. But then my thrill soon soured because I remembered that all those Filipino places close early. It was only a few minutes past 8pm, but yep, Ihawan was dark and shuttered. We only wanted food to go, so we were able squeak into Renee's before the 8:30pm closing (and I always thought Sripraphai was hardcore with their no orders after 9:30pm or whatever it is). Phew.

Grilled meats were a must for James. Lechon is an absolute for me. We ended up ordering a mixed grill, which came with beef skewers, pork belly, longaniza, and a chicken breast. All for $7. I like how the sweet smoky barbecued items are paired with a side of achara, pickled green papaya with raisins (I'm not sure how textbook this is, most recipes I've seen for the sour accompaniment don't use raisins. But I know Filipinos have a fondness for the dried grapes, probably a Spanish influence. My best friend growing up was from the Philippines and her mom would put raisins in the lumpia. Oh my god, I could eat a plate of toasty cylinders).

The crispy, fatty pork chunks came with a lechon sauce that was slightly different that what I've had before. It was darker, thinner and appeared to be speckled with caramelized onions. I love that stuff, and had no idea liver and breadcrumbs were main ingredients until maybe two years ago. I used to keep a bottle in the fridge, but never had any occasion to use it. Same with banana ketchup. I love that these condiments exist, though they don't necessarily fit into my daily routine.

James also ordered pork adobo just to keep up the porcine fest (I would've opted for chicken). Everything plus three boxes of rice (I swear, Filipinos are more rice crazy than other Asian cultures) totaled $18, which is amazing value if you consider that we had enough food for two meals. $4.50 a dinner is hard to beat.

Renee's Kitchenette * 6914 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, NY

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