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Restaurant-In-Room: Chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao

Restaurant-In-Room: Chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao

Located in one of Manhattan’s hippest neighborhoods, the Lower East Side, lies a colorfully eclectic eatery dedicated to Southeast Asia cuisine, Pig & Khao.

The brainchild of chef Leah Cohen, well-known for her time on Top Chef and most recently the new PBS show, Great American Recipe, this downtown restaurant pays homage to Cohen’s Filipino roots, as well as her travels throughout Asia. “I moved to South East Asia for a year. I ate, took cooking classes, and worked in several restaurants both fine dining and mom-and-pop joints during my time there,” says Cohen. It was during this stay that the idea for a restaurant was formed “I wanted to understand the flavors and know what the ingredients SHOULD taste like. I also knew that when I opened my own restaurant it needed to highlight Filipino food because that is my culture, I am half Filipino, and I wanted the food to reflect me.” 

This dedication to creating culinarily accurate depictions of Southeast Asian cuisine has led Pig & Khao to be a favorite among Manhattanites and tourists alike. Some of the most beloved dishes on the menu include favorites such as the green papaya salad inspired by Thailand and the Hainanese Duck. But Cohen says ” there are a few signature dishes that have been on the menu since we opened ten years ago, which are the Khao Soi and the Sisig. They are our crowd-pleasers. We’ve tried to take them off the menu to add new items and our customers rebelled, so they happily will remain on the menu.”

Pig & Khaos delicious food isn’t the only reason to visit this charming restaurant. Decorated with brightly colorful artwork, high vaulted ceilings, and music featuring classic hip-hop and reggae provides a lively and cheery ambiance that is sure to delight even the dourest of diners. The venue also serves as a great place to hold a party or special occasion, with the back of the restaurant able to be reserved for as many as 38 people. 

If you don’t have time to make it to Pig & Khao or one of the other restaurants by Cohen, Piggyback by Pig & Khao in Midtown, while you are staying at Four Season Downtown, the hotel will be offering a selection of the restaurant’s menu in partnership with Executive Chef Maria Tampakis for it’s newest Culinary Master’s collaboration. For November, the in-room dining experience will offer Pork Belly Adobo a slow-cooked pork belly perfectly paired with an Amber Yolk hen egg, cilantro, and sesame as well as Korean sweet and spicy wings. Cohen feels about the newest restaurant-in-room series “I really hope that the food transports you to South East Asia and you feel like you know me a little bit better after eating in one of my restaurants. The food is flavorful and bold but also subtle and balanced just like me.”

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