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$20 Dinner

Feast on Phenomenal Filipino Food at Patok by Rach in Inwood

The food-festival favorite, famous for its roasted pig, now has a whole restaurant where we can eat every day.

The Filipino food spread at Patok by Rach in Inwood, Manhattan, New York City.
(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The first time Rachel Saberon fed me her lechon, we were standing under the arches of Harlem, along with thousands of other hungry people, in the spring of 2022. That's when she and her business partner Hannah Abada made their debut as Patok by Rach at the Uptown Night Market. The Filipino roasted pig they served that evening was incredible, so fatty and funky, so sticky and sweet. Patok basically means "a hit" in English, and this pig definitely was that.  

Dunking that pork belly into a vat of bubbling oil for the chicharron. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

A month later we met again in the Bronx at Fordham Plaza, and a month after that I wolfed down her pork belly at Industry City in Brooklyn. Just a legendary run of lechon! But as fun and cool as it is to eat this stuff at seasonal outdoor markets, I thought: Wouldn't it be great if we could just get Saberon and Abada's roasted pork every day if we wanted? Like at an actual restaurant? And maybe other Filipino delights like lumpia and chicharron too?

Lechon kawali, or chicharron, $18.99. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

If you live up in Inwood, or don't mind hopping on the A to the end of line for a delicious piggy feast, then that dream just became a reality—Patok by Rach, the brick and mortar restaurant, is now up and running seven days a week on upper Broadway. 

Sample of marinated and grilled chicken inasal. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

"This was a long-time prayer," Saberon told Hell Gate. "I lived here two years ago and there just wasn't enough Asian food around. I believe we're the first Filipino restaurant in the area, which I think is bizarre. Filipino and Latin food are very similar, so I thought it was a no-brainer. This is a neighborhood where people really appreciate their pork."

Inside Patok by Rach. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Saberon was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao in the Philippines. But her lechon recipe, she told us, "came from my father who grew up in Cebu City." It's a fantastic plate of pig, with crackling skin and big hunks of soft, juicy meat, served with a mound of rice and three crocks of sauce—one dark and vinegary, one a cucumber salad that's basically little chunks of pickles, and a third filled with a rich and sludgy liver-based condiment called Mang Tomas, or "Filipino gravy," as Saberon put it. 

Sample of the lechon belly. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The regular lechon is actually slightly over our official $20 Dinner budget (it's $22.95), but Patok's lechon kawali platter, in which slabs of pork belly are deep fried like chicharron, is $18.99 and just as delicious—albeit slightly more perilous if your teeth are prone to cracking. 

I love both of those dishes at Patok, and would happily eat either of them at least once a week if I lived up in Inwood—but I think Patok's pork sisig may be even better. This is the best version of the Filipino classic that I've ever had. The pig is diced, seasoned, and fired under high heat to a tender, chewy, intensely pleasurable finish, and the slivers of jalapeños scattered on top are a nice touch.

Pork sisig, $18.99. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Other fire-roasted fare includes some good-looking pork skewers and a remarkably smoky piece of roast chicken. And it's not all meat, either. The Patok's pork lumpia is excellent, boasting an impressive amount of flavor for such a skinny package, but the veggie version is almost as good. There's also liang, made from dried taro leaves and coconut milk, and a tofu and mushroom dish. Sadly, the freezer was on the fritz last week, so I couldn't try Patok's ice cream-topped halo-halo for dessert. Next time.  

Veggie lumpia, $10. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

For the Patok team, who are used to churning out lechon in festival tents and compact commissary kitchens, the space itself here in Inwood is luxuriously expansive. But the first thing you'll think is: holy shit there's a tree in here! It's just a sculpture (though it looks pretty real), and it was actually already inside, hidden behind the roll gates, when Saberon and Abada first saw the place, installed by the contractor for a different business that never saw the light of day. Purely by coincidence, it's a narra, the national tree of the Philippines. "We looked at each other and were like, this is it," said Saberon.       

Patok by Rach is located at 5057 Broadway, between 215th and 216th Streets, and is currently open from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily (914-424-6677).

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