111 1st Ave. New York, NY 10003 • (646) 392-7880maharlikanyc.com
While I definitely like places like this, a little more down and dirty, away from all the pomp and circumstance of what it means to be fine dining in NYC (which I also love, don’t get me wrong), I found the decor a little too down and a little too dirty. In fact, decor is such an afterthought here, I literally don’t think they thought about it at all. And by sitting us between the bus station and the kitchen, even though we had a reservation, certainly didn’t help. So that explains the docking of one star.
As for the other star, service was fine, so it wasn’t that. It was actually the food. Which pains me to say it, because I also loved it. I think one of the other reviewers had the same criticism, that while ALL of the dishes are filled with terrific flavors, they simply need to up their game on how to cook some of the meat. For example, the spare ribs were a touch dry and the short rib was very dry too. Meanwhile, the oxtail was as moist as can be, more like the short ribs should have been.
As for some of the other dishes, the special shrimp starter was the weakest of everything. No flavor comparatively to other dishes. The pork belly, while good, and an interesting blend of textures, was VERY difficult to eat, because you practically needed a power saw to slice into it. This was perhaps an inflamed issue, because we literally had to ask for knives at the table three times.
Spam fries with banana ketchup were good, but what is the level of difficulty here? You’ve got fatty reconstituted meat battered and deep fried and dipped in sweet ketchup.
Desserts were passable, one being coconut flan, which I’m not a fan of categorically. The other being the Mango cheesecake, which I liked, because the hint of mango gave a lightness to an otherwise heavy dessert. But outstanding it wasn’t.
So, why the three knives then, after all of this bitching and moaning? Because I saved the best for last. The eggplant side dish is just awesome. As is the fried chicken and waffles (pictured)- best I’ve ever had. So perfectly cooked I could honestly go back just for that (okay, and the eggplant).