The popular East Village Filipino restaurant Maharlika has proven to be a huge success since its opening in 2011, garnering numerous awards and crowds of loyal followers.
Though the owner Nicole Ponseca hoped to introduce Filipino food to the world with Maharlika, she still had ideas she cherished and loved that did not fit with the concept of the restaurant. So she decided to open a new spot, a gastropub that offers the same style of Filipino food but in a different fashion. She called the new restaurant Jeepney.
“Tomboy[s], fast women, fast car[s] and great food. I think that’s the personality behind Jeepney,” Ponseca said. Compared to the elegant and feminine Maharika, Jeepney is more robust and a lot louder.
Apart from the style, Jeepney’s menu also embodies a unique concept: family-style dining.
“At Jeepney, the food [is meant] to be shared,” Ponseca said. “You have portions good for one to two people but also more.”
CAS freshman Germaine Low expressed concerns about the restaurant.
“The last thing you want … is to be cheated by some kind of rip-off fusion Asian food that has conformed to mass consumerism,” Low said.
However, Ponseca worries less about the balance between fusion and tradition than about what goes into the food she prepares. It is with love and real ingredients that she hopes to provide a very specific pizazz to her food.
“With fresh ingredients and made daily, that’s the Filipino food I respect and love and want to introduce to the world,” she said. “It’s my goal to push Filipino food forward to cross over in a big way and stay real.”
Ponseca also had a more profound motivation behind starting Jeepney.
“I want a successful business. But the success will come more for me as well when people are interested in traveling to my country,” she said.
“I want to introduce both the culture and food,” Ponseca added.
Even the name Jeepney reflects Ponseca’s wish, as it refers to the stripped down World War II jeeps that were re-introduced as fancy taxis in the Philippines.
Jeepney is located at 201 First Ave. between 12th and 13th streets, and dishes that serve two to four people range from $14 to $19. Delivery services will be available in December.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 23 print edition. Celeste Zhou is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.
Hester Street Fair returns for its fourth season, fresh with new vendors, such as Thai street food-serving Khaom Man Gai NY, Heart of Tea and popcorn master Pop Karma. Visit on a Saturday to sample popular lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster and ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery.
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