A Palate’s Journey Through Time: Unveiling Culinary Delights at Choly Filipino Restaurant

by Troi Santos

The bar section of Choly Filipino Restaurant | Photo by Troi Santos

In the depths of New York City’s historical landscape, a culinary treasure lies tucked away beneath the vibrant streets. Choly Filipino Restaurant, located at the cellar of 90 W. Houston St., unveils a captivating experience transcending time, whisking patrons away to an era when this space whispered secrets as a speakeasy.

Stepping into Choly Filipino Restaurant is akin to stepping into a portal of culinary enchantment, where the past merges seamlessly with the present. Greeted by the warm embrace of the gracious owner and manager, one can’t help but be swept away by their infectious passion for history and Filipino cuisine.

As I settled into the dimly lit ambiance, I embarked on a culinary adventure like no other. The menu, a carefully curated tapestry of flavors and traditions, beckoned me to explore the rich tapestry of Filipino gastronomy. Among the stars of this gastronomic symphony were the restaurant’s most celebrated offerings.

First on the list is the signature House Sisig, a masterpiece that ignites the senses. The sizzling plate arrives at the table, emitting tantalizing aromas that dance through the air, beckoning me closer. Each morsel of perfectly grilled meat, infused with a harmonious blend of spices, delivers an explosion of flavors that leaves an indelible mark on the palate.

Next, the Adobo and Sampaloc Margarita, a creative twist on a classic cocktail. The tangy notes of sampaloc (tamarind) intertwine with the smoothness of a margarita, offering a refreshing companion to the robust flavors of Filipino cuisine. Sipping on this concoction, I was transported to a time when speakeasies were the playgrounds of those seeking liberation and indulgence.

Lengua Estofado, an exquisite dish of tender ox tongue stewed with olives and mushrooms, presented a compelling blend of savory richness. Each bite offered a luxurious interplay of flavors, a testament to Choly’s kitchen’s meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail. Paired with a side of fragrant rice, it created a symphony of satisfaction.

Kinilaw Tuna, the Filipino rendition of ceviche, showcased the culinary finesse that defines Choly Filipino Restaurant. Delicate cubes of fresh tuna, bathed in a tangy marinade of vinegar, calamansi, and aromatic herbs, created a refreshing burst of flavors that invigorated the senses. It was a culinary homage to the bountiful seas surrounding the Philippines.

And who could forget the indulgent Chicharon Bulaklak? This deep-fried delight, crafted from ruffled fat, boasted a crispness harmonizing with a delectable vinegar dip. With each bite, the layers of rich flavors unfolded, paying homage to the decadence and creativity of Filipino cuisine.

As the evening unfolded, I reveled in the gracious hospitality of the owner and manager, who told me tales of the speakeasy’s clandestine past. Their dedication to preserving the historical significance of the space while introducing modern twists to traditional Filipino dishes was genuinely remarkable.

Choly Filipino Restaurant’s culinary offerings testify to the vibrant tapestry of flavors that define Filipino cuisine. It is an invitation to indulge in storytelling through food as each dish unravels a chapter of history, culture, and culinary heritage.

Nestled within the cellar of 90 W. Houston St., Choly Filipino Restaurant serves as a time capsule, transporting patrons to an era of clandestine gatherings and culinary revelations. It is a testament to the enduring power of food, culture, and the human spirit.

As I bid farewell to this culinary haven, I carried with me the flavors, stories, and warm hospitality that permeated every corner of the place. A hidden gem in the heart of New York City, Choly Filipino Restaurant beckons all who seek a taste of the past and an exploration of flavors that transcend time. It is where history is celebrated, palates are delighted, and memories are forged.

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