Comfort experience and ‘barkada’ vibes at Tradisyon

The popular Chocnut and Calamansi Meringue popsicles. Photos by Angelito Cabigao

By Angelito Cabigao

We may have experienced missing our favorite Filipino comfort food as a result of the pandemic.  Some of our favorite restaurants have closed down and we ended up getting the ingredients to cook them ourselves.

Some restaurants have pivoted to stay open to satisfy our food cravings. One of them is Tradisyon restaurant located in Hell’s Kitchen (790 9th Avenue). You may have seen them on Yelp’s Instagram celebrating Filipino American History Month.  Pinoy New Yorkers can now order their Pancit and Lumpia by delivery and enjoy them in the comfort of their homes without having a bunch of leftovers stored in Magnolia ice cream containers. Jo Koy knows what I’m talking about.

Kicking off FAHM in October, I decided to head to Tradisyon after my friends Sean and Cris told me to check it out.  After a walk from Times Square to Central Park — and getting lost in the park for a bit — I was ready to feast on some Filipino food.  However, before I get to the food, I want to mention the best part of my visit to Tradisyon, which was the people!  I met the Tradisyon team — owner Joey Chanco, and chefs Anton Dayrit and Bianca Vicente.  I liked how they made you feel at home by interacting with you, other customers, and the delivery folks.  They also introduced me to other FilAms who I was able to have conversations with. Zak told me about a cookie place that “rivals Levain cookies” located in Alabang, Nanding talked about tourism in the Philippines, and Franco told me about a business he is part of that sells Ube cakes in NYC.  As a result, I can say my visit to Tradisyon was more of a comfort experience rather than solely for the comfort food.

Let’s get back to the food. We will not forget their delicious comfort food.  Personally, I feel if a place can get their Lechon Kawali right then it already sticks out for the better. After being born and raised in NYC/NJ eating Filipino food in various restaurants and also living in the Philippines, I have tasted some pretty bad soggy Lechon Kawali to some good crispy Lechon Kawali.  

Lechon Kawali: Just the right crispiness.      

Tradisyon’s Lechon Kawali ($13) reminded me of the freshly cooked Lechon Kawali dish I would have in Quezon City.  It had that crispy taste you would expect of a good Lechon Kawali. The dish includes your choice of white, brown, garlic, or Quinoa and two veggies to help balance the taste.  Quite a filling meal. Did I mention they also include the mandatory Mang Tomas lechon sauce?

Not a meat eater?  Do you have trouble deciding what to get?  Not a problem at Tradisyon.  I liked how their menu is mostly composed of vegetable dishes.  I got my eye on the Laing and Kangkong Bagoong veggie dishes for the next visit.   I also liked the simplicity of the menu that does not make you overthink of what to get.  It is a one pager that provides just enough great choices to choose from.

Since I do have a sweet tooth, dessert had to be special. You will notice that some of the typical choices of an ice cream scoop or Halo Mange are not there.  Instead, you will see popsicle choices which is a familiar sight for those who chased the ice cream truck growing up in NY/ NJ for the WWF and Firecracker popsicles.   I went with the Calamansi Meringue popsicle ($5), but ended up getting the Chocnut popsicle ($5) as well because I saw a fresh batch that just came in.  The Calamansi popsicle is perfect for a light dessert, while the Chocnut is great for chocolate lovers.

This comfort experience at Tradisyon was a great way to kick off FilAm month.  The great people experience combined with the great food of the Philippines in New York City makes you feel at home in America and the Philippines. I experienced the barkada/friends vibes. Special shoutout to Joey for really checking up on me during my whole time there, giving me great recommendations, talking to me in Tagalog at times, and introducing me to the other customers.  I experienced the “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” identity of the Tradisyon crew sharing in NYC the comfort food of the Philippines before, during, and moving forward from the pandemic.   Thank you, Tradisyon.

The Tradisyon trio, from left:  Owner Joey Chanco, and chefs Bianca Vicente and Anton Dayrit. Photo:; casual neighborhood dining over traditional Filipino food.

© The FilAm 2020

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