A fusion of Spanish and Asian flavours and ingredients, Filipino food is relatively uncommon in London. Although you’re more likely to see it at supper clubs and street food markets, there are some proper Filipino restaurants scattered across town, you just have to know where to look.
Josephine's Filipino Restaurant
Restaurant, Philippine, $$$
Having served hungry Londoners for over two decades, Josephine’s is a stalwart on the city’s Filipino restaurant scene. You’ll find some of the country’s best-loved dishes on the menu, including chicken adobo, beef stew in peanut sauce and fired milkfish. If you’re new to Filipino cuisine (or just in an indecisive mood), there are also two set menus that’ll give you a great taste of what Josephine’s is all about.
The family-run Lutong Pinoy prides itself on its authentic, home-style cooking and just like you’d get at home, they don’t want you leaving hungry. The menu options are vast. You can order from the menu, which features everything from lomi to sinigang to leche flan; you can share two-person platters; you can eat from their daily buffet; and you can go for a kamayan, a traditional way of feasting where the food goes in the middle of the table and you eat with your hands. Filipino food is made for sharing so round up a group and get involved.
Cirilo Noodle Bar & Grill may not be an out and out Filipino restaurant – crispy aromatic duck, sweet and sour pork, chow mein and other Chinese dishes pepper the menu – but there are plenty of Filipino specials like sisig and kare-kare to get stuck into. With an informal atmosphere and generous portions, it’s all you could want from a relaxed meal.
Well established in Manila, Romulo Café also has an outpost in Kensington and it’s a rather smart looking place. Inspired by General Carlos P. Romulo, one of the Phillipines’ most famous statesmen, the restaurant is split into four distinct areas – the General’s Bar, the Diplomat’s Dining Room, the Ambassador’s Lounge and the CPR Library – so it’s just as suitable for a casual bite as it is a private dinner. Crispy pata, flying fish and chicken relleno are amongst their most-loved dishes and they shake up some great cocktails; classic drinks given a Filipino twist.
Kamayan, which also has a sister site in Kilburn, may be on the casual side but it’s a great spot for a Filipino breakfast or a cheap and satisfying lunch – their binalot (meat or fish like lechon kawali or bangus wrapped in banana leaf and served with salted egg, rice, tomato and cucumber) comes in under £8. They also offer their namesake kamayan or boodle fight; derived from military mess hall practice, food is served on a spread of banana leaves and eaten with hands rather than using cutlery or plates.