The blue awning above Tito Rad’s Grill and Restaurant, a homey spot situated next to a strip joint at the juncture of Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue declares “Finest Filipino Cuisine.” Culinary boasts aside Tito Rad’s might just win the prize for Queens' westernmost Filipino eatery. Little Manila lies some 20 blocks east. In any case Tito's menu has a cool logo: a slick dude in a Panama hat sits above the phrase, “Halika, kain tayo.” Below is the English translation “Cmon’ let’s eat!”
Since Tito Rad’s had such a jaunty mascot, typical Filipino apps like lumpiah were ignored in favor of ukoy, which the menu describes as bean sprout fritters. What landed on the table was a far cry from fritters. Rather than deep-fried discs, ukoy’s a tangle of crisp nutty sprouts interspersed with shrimp, bean curd and ground pork. A quick dip into the chili-laced garlic-vinegar sauce turns it into an addictive snack.
Tito’s porcine delights range from belly to ears, but ultimately the decision fell to crispy pata. As is the case with many Filipino restaurants, the menu translates it as pork knuckle, but it’s actually a trotter. Semantic quibbles aside, Tito’s got the crispy part right. Crunchy skin encases succulent meat; all a result of boiling then deep frying the little piggy. Enthusiastic eaters will be content with breaking off bits of meat and crackling to dip in the vinegar chili sauce. Anatomically savvy diners will marvel at the pork leg’s morphology, metatarsals and all.
If you’re looking to keep the pork party going, get a plate of palabok. The heap of al dente rice noodles comes coated with an orange sauce flavored with shrimp and pork cracklings crowned by slices of hard-boiled egg, and strewn with chunks of bacon. Toss everything together and it’s like a Filipino take on spaghetti carbonara.
Tito Rad's Grill & Restaurant, 49-12 Queens Blvd, Woodside, 718-205-7299