Years ago, you were staring at your ceiling, trying to distract yourself from what happened with Adam in homeroom. In that moment, you started imagining your future life in New York City, and it went something like this: you’d spend every night going out, listening to loud music, ordering food like you’d never heard of money, and drinking criminally pink cocktails. If that vision actually came true, you’d be eating at Pig and Khao all the time.
This Thai/Filipino spot on the LES feels like a party, but with flavorful, interesting dishes instead of cocktail weenies and sweaty cubes of gouda. And as with any real party (or any trip to a haunted corn maze), you should come prepared with a small army of people who talk about “fun,” and also actually have it.
You’ll walk in and get a waft of hot, spicy food as it’s cooking—which is helpful, because otherwise, you might think you were in a loud bar or a skateboarding shop (with friendly servers who look like they walked out of a Vans ad). The menu is broken up into “smalls” and “mains,” but the smalls are like tapas for giants. In other words, not small at all. No one should be ordering anything just for themselves, unless it’s a personal order of coconut rice. We like everything we’ve had here, from the excellent pork sisig and the khao soi to the flaky whole fried fish and BBQ baby back ribs covered in a thick, sweet sauce—so plan to share as much as possible with your group. And get some cocktails, like the one with spicy tequila and watermelon or a rye and Thai chili-infused honey blend. Drink a few of those and expect to do some light shoulder dancing in your chair.
Since Pig and Khao is a party, and parties are a little chaotic, the service can be inconsistent. Sometimes things come right away, and sometimes you’ll have to make the eyes at your server. Ultimately, it won’t really matter. Because you’ll be eating great, filling food, and talking about which LES bar to go to next.
Go back in time and tell your younger self that you weren’t too far off with how things would be once you moved to the city. Because now, you’re the kind of person who goes to restaurants like Pig and Khao. Also, remind yourself not to spend too much time worrying about Adam. You know how he turned out.
Green Papaya Salad
Between the peanuts, crispy taro, and papaya shreds, there are lots of different textures happening here. We’re very pro-texture and very pro this dish.
If you’re going to get jealous about one thing on someone else’s table, it’s this: a rectangular skillet with chopped-up pork head and a whole raw egg on top (that you mix in). You will have to tell yourself to stop eating this, because there’s more on the way and also because you have to be a good sharer.
The sisig is a crowd favorite, but this Khao Soi might be our number one draft pick from the “small” section of the menu. It’s pretty spicy, and goes really well with some coconut rice.
BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Briefly forget about the all-white outfit you definitely shouldn’t have worn here to begin with, and pick these things up with your paws. The ribs come with a side of slaw and a heavy BBQ sauce marinade, and they’re messy in a great way.
Whole Fried Fish
If, generally speaking, you’re afraid of committing to and/or staring into the eyes of a whole fish, this version can be your gateway drug. It’s flaky and light, with very few bones. Also, the sweet/spicy curry sauce underneath is excellent.
Sweet but not too sweet. Get several orders, because each one is $4, and this only makes everything else taste better. We thought about sneaking some into our purse on the way out.