Times critic Pete Wells awards a star to Lower East Side restaurant Tsismis for what he calls “unfussy and liberated” Filipino-American drinking food.
Among the menu’s strengths he finds a Filipino ceviche known as kinilaw, here made with bay scallops in a “piercingly sour” calamansi and cane vinegar marinade with bird’s-eye chile, as well as golden-brown pork-and-carrot wontons paired with sweet chile sauce.
Chef Jappy Afzelius also fries up some memorable wings, Wells writes:
Even if it’s well after 5:thirsty and you’re not sitting at the bar, Jappy’s wings are worth considering. Jappy is the chef, Jappy Afzelius, and he fries those wings with thinly sliced garlic and sends them out to the dining room with a salsa of raw mangoes, charred onions and chiles. The heat of the salsa will not cause your shirt to burst into flames, but it is hot enough to make your memory of Jappy’s wings a lasting one.
But the food can be sloppy at times, the critic notes — fried milkfish once came overdone, Filipino roasted chicken was paired with smoked eggplant “so undercooked it squeaked,” and the housemade calamansi soda came flat and weak.
Tsismis does, however, serve “excellent” silvanas, a cookie of sorts made of two cashew meringues sandwiched together with buttercream and coated with cashew crumbs on the outside. Despite the misses, Wells proclaims Tsismis a restaurant worth talking about. One star.