On Friday we went to what is technically Woodside (52nd street at Roosevelt Ave, right under the subway stop) to the year-old Filipino restaurant Payag. We actually went there on opening day last year (before I started this blog), and it’s changed quite a bit. It’s relatively upscale (courteous hostess, bar, live music, fancy decor) but the prices are in the medium range.
I am not quite sure what the “redefined” means since I haven’t really been to any other pure Filipino restaurants.
There is a large variety of appetizers, which are strangely almost the same size and price as regular entrees. These baked mussels ($9) topped with cheese were good, although I am not the best at judging them since I have a bit of an aversion to mussels/oysters/clams. I actually ate some great oysters in Maryland last month, and when I ordered this I mistakenly got my oysters and mussels mixed up, but it was ok. Still though, I think oysters>mussels.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but this was actually a fish dish (red snapper) ($11). The fish had a strong but good taste and the unusual sauce and peppers definitely make it an original dish.
When I ordered the “Halabos Na Hipon” ($13), which was basically described as shrimp, I didn’t know what I was in for. First off – it’s literally just shrimp – pretty much nothing else, other than the sauce. Second of all, it’s the entire shrimp – head, eyes, legs, and all. This was my first time eating whole shrimp, so it was a bit of a challenge, and I got my hands real messy. It’s almost like shucking crabs, in that you have to extract all the meat from the exoskeleton. The shrimp tastes like…. well, shrimp – albeit very fresh. The accompanying sauce was very good though.
Here is a picture of all the shrimp after my epic battle with them. Victory is mine! Emilia claimed that you’re actually supposed to eat the heads, and to prove it she tried one, but I don’t think that was such a good idea. She described them as “crunchy” and “hard to swallow.”