Gluten-Free in NYC: Maharlika’s Fried Chicken and Ube Waffle
As a gluten-free girl, there are some items that New York City has managed to somewhat pin down with gluten-free alternatives. The gluten-free pasta selection isn’t bad, pizza is definitely improving, and desserts are pretty much set. But one gluten-free item that I practically never see, and am constantly craving, is anything fried — more specifically, fried chicken. Even more specifically, I crave fried chicken and waffles, another item that’s typically gluten-filled. But ladies and gentleman, I’ve finally found not only gluten-free chicken and waffles, but something even better — gluten-free chicken and purple waffles.
Maharlika, a tiny restaurant in the East Village, serves Filipino food with a twist, and is one of the only Filipino restaurants in Manhattan. I had wanted to try Maharlika for a while now, but as a Filipina myself, I unfortunately have to skip out on many traditional dishes since soy sauce is such a prominent ingredient. All my problems were solved when I tweeted my distress to @MaharlikaNYC and, score — that’s how I found out about their fried chicken and ube waffle dish — ube being purple yam, a favorite Filipino treat.
Since many dishes that are in the beginning of their gluten-free lives tend to be completely unimpressive, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much…And then my mind was blown. The fried chicken is batter-less but still extra crispy, and it was the first time I had tasted fried chicken in years, so I was pretty much in deep-fried euphoria after the first bite.
Paired with anchovy bagoong butter (which sounds like a super weird combination but it’s not, just try it) and caramelized macapuno (coconut) syrup, the ube waffle was maybe the best waffle I’ve ever had in my life, gluten-free or not (of course, that’s partly because it was purple).
Now, chicken and waffles is nowhere near a typical Filipino dish, but many of the flavors in the dish are pretty representative of the culture. If you’re gluten-free (or even if you’re not) and looking for a way to tiptoe into Filipino food, Maharlika’s fried chicken and ube waffle dish is definitely the way to go. Salamat po, Maharlika!