First Dinner at Sa Aming Nayon – NYC
Sa Aming Nayon is another Filipino restaurant to open in the East Village this year, and since I read about the crispy pata in the Village Voice, I’ve been longing for crispy pork leg. This past weekend, David and I finally dropped by for pork leg and a little bit more.
Dinner began with a complimentary plate of fried spinach with garlic sauce. According to the owner, it was just a little something to tide us over until our entrées were ready. The fried spinach reminded me of oily ggennip twiggim (깻잎 튀김; Korean perilla leaf tempura), but without the spicy herbal bite of perilla leaves. The oiliness aside, I liked the fried spinach with the garlic sauce. A condiment with some acid would have been nice to cut the grease, but creamy garlic sauce is hard to deny.
Considering I was about to eat a deep-fried pork leg, I thought vegetables seemed to be a good idea, so I ordered Ensaladang Mangga ($7.95), a confusing “salad” of diced mangoes, tomatoes, and onions with a shell-on, salted egg cut lengthwise on top. There was no dressing, and it seemed like just a bunch of ingredients in a bowl rather than a prepared dish. Baffling, but the salt-cured egg was at least nice. The briny egg white was soft and the outer parts of the yolk which were almost liquid-like in texture was quite tasty.
And then the Crispy Pata ($12.95) arrived….
A whole deep-fried pig’s leg, including the foot, it was huge, and beyond crispy. It was MAD CRUNCHY. Some parts of the leg were better than others. For example, some of the meat inside were dried out, while other parts like the crackly skin, as long as you scraped off some of the subcutaneous fat (because there was A LOT), was lip-smackingly good. A dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar is served on the side, but ask for some hot sauce. You need some heat to cut the crazy amount of fat and grease. A cold San Miguel ($5.50) doesn’t hurt either.
David ordered the Chicken Curry ($9.95), which I was glad he did, because there’s only so much fried pork you can eat in one sitting without dying from an immediate heart attack. Made with coconut milk, the mild curry was creamy and thick, and the chicken was oh so tender. I especially liked the matchsticks of ginger throughout which balanced out the richness of the curry. David wished there was more sauce, however, but I thought the real problem was that it was undersalted.
Sa Aming Nayon isn’t a restaurant I’ll be rushing back to, but I’m sure to return. A homey Filipino restaurant in your neighborhood shouldn’t be taken for granted. Besides, now that I’ve had the crispy pata, the sizzling sissig is calling…
Sa Aming Nayon
201 1st Ave (b/n 12th & 13th St; map)
New York, NY 10003