You probably think Red Hook, Brooklyn would be the last place to find Filipino food. But if you know the story behind Philly Pinoy (used to be the “Bait Shop” with a tiki bar looking exterior) then you know it’s exactly where it should be. Catered to the large number of Filipino cruise ship workers that come in with the Queen Mary 2 and Caribbean Princess, Philly Pinoy is just mere blocks away for the homesick workers to get some home cooked meals. Last time without knowing how Benjamin David, owner of Philly Pinoy, runs his shop, I went looking for lunch and failed to get any food.
This time armed with my new found knowledge and the handy Brooklyn cruise terminal schedule, I didn’t fail.
On a bright Friday, I met up with Melissa aka Spatula Queen at the corner of Pioneer and Van Brunt. Compared to the last time I went to Philly Pinoy, there were people outside eating which meant Benjamin was serving food, yes! When we walked in, there was a line of people waiting to place their order for lunch. Few of them got burgers and fries and one person got rice and a nice looking grilled chicken (I might have to go back and try that). Finally it was our turn. We asked what Filipino food he had and he patiently described each one to us. That day he had 6 different dishes and we wanted to taste all of them so we got all of them.
In the first box there’s rice, chopped liver and hearts with vinegar and blood stew with pig ears (dinuguan). The dinuguan was my favorite dish that day. Don’t be grossed out just because it has pig’s blood in it and really you wouldn’t know there was blood in it anyways. I could imagine just eating that with the rice and I be super OK with it. The chopped up pig ears gave the stew a nice crunchy texture. The chopped hearts and livers with vinegar (bopis) had a bit too much vinegar for both of us but it was still very good.
The second box had bittermelon with eggs, yams with string beans in coconut milk, yams (I think) and pork with a medley of vegetables and fried pork (or what was left in the empty tray). I have never been a huge fan of bittermelon but the one served at Philly Pinoy was good and I like anything with eggs in them. The two dishes with yams (or sweet potatoes?!) were pretty good as well though I’m leaning towards the one with coconut milk in it. I could picture eating that dish in the winter time with a bowl of rice. The addition of coconut milk reminded me of curry.
So by the time we got there the whole tray of fried pork was nearly gone except for couple pieces of meat and crispy skin. The pork was great(!) and the skin stayed crispy even after sitting in the tray.
I know many of you are wondering if he serves dinner also. Well the answer is no because all of the dishes are cooked by his sister-in-law in Pennsylvania (she and her husband runs Philly Pinoy in Penn). She drives up with the food from Penn and when he runs out of food, that’s it. When Melissa and I arrived around 12:30pm a whole tray of dinuguan was gone (good thing his sister-in-law brought two trays of that), the pork was pretty much gone and the other trays were nearly empty as well. I know it sucks and most of us can’t take a day off and trek out to Red Hook for delicious home cooked Filipino food BUT a quick look at the cruise schedule there’s a Caribbean Princess docking in Brooklyn on the 10th, a Sunday. Make sure to go early!
Benjamin David charges $7 for a box of rice with two items but definitely ask him if you can try a little bit of each dish, it’s worth it. Also if someone knows what the dishes I ate are called, I love to know.