It’s hard to keep up with food trends in London, but if there’s one you should not be overlooking in 2019, it’s Filipino food.
In fact, to label Filipino food as just a trend is to do it a huge disservice.
Truth is, Filipino is quickly becoming one of the most popular Asian cuisines in London thanks to a handful of excellent restaurants and pop-ups.
But first, some background.
If you’re familiar with the geography of the Philippines, you won’t be surprised to hear that Filipino cuisine consists of influences from 7107 (surprisingly varied) islands that make up the country.
If you’re familiar with the history of the Philippines, you won’t be surprised to hear that Filipino cuisine also consists of Western influence, seeing as it used to be a colony of both Spain and the USA.
All things considered, many in-the-know foodies therefore consider Filipino to be a true ‘East meets West’ cuisine, and definitely different to Thai, Vietnamese and other popular Southeast Asian cuisines.
Hot right now
Filipino food has been popular for years in places like the USA, but in the UK it’s recently started to take off and is definitely hot right now.
Being an interesting hybrid of Spanish, South American and Asian flavours, Filipino uses familiar ingredients like crispy pulled pork on the regular, as well as loads of coconut, yam and greens that are native to the Philippines.
Many restaurants in London at the moment are taking these ingredients and putting them together in ways that the UK hasn’t seen before.
This is why Filipino food is hot right now, and here’s where to eat it in London.
First up is Romulo Cafe, London’s answer to the fashionable dining scene in the Filipino capital of Manila. It makes sense that Romulo Cafe is in Kensington, where the team behind the wheel stays true to Filipino traditions while also evolving with the times thanks to the creative whizz of Chef Jeremy Villanueva. You’ll find refined Fiipino classics like chicken relleno or pork adobo with pandesal & purple yam on the menu here, as well as cool new creations that are all served as sharing plates or smaller size ‘platitos’.
Address: 343 Kensington High Street, London W8 6NW
Opening hours: Lunch on Fri, Sat & Sun from midday. Dinner every day from 5-10:30pm
Must-try: Scottish salmon tamarind stew made with morning glory, okra, daikon and aubergine
Josephine’s Filipino Restaurant
Josephine’s represents what’s probably more common in the rest of the Philippines outside of Manila: humble, down to earth food that’s still as charming as anything. Josephine and her team let their food do all of the talking so the restaurant in the West End won’t blow you away with any fancy frills, but who needs frills when you’ve got the tastiest Filipino noodles in London on the menu for a mere eight squids 50?
Address: 4 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LP
Opening hours: Midday to 11pm every day except Sunday when closing is 7pm
Must-try: Pansit Sa Mani noodles with chicken and peanut sauce
BBQ Dreamz ensures its food is fresh, beautifully colourful, outrageously tasty and everything else that whets a modern food Instrammer’s appetite. No wonder it’s so popular. Led by Lee from Manila and Sinead from Galway, BBQ Dreamz is less of a restaurant and more of a pop-up that you can catch at various events. But it definitely deserves a lot of credit for bringing Filipino food right into the London spotlight. There are only a few dishes on the menu but all of them are top-draw.
Address: Always on the move
Opening hours: Event dependant, so research first
Must-try: The grilled satay duck heart skewers or the crispy pork belly
Lutong Pinoy Filipino Restaurant
If you like eating with your hands (the kind of dining known as Kamayan in the Philippines), then Lutong Pinoy is the London Filipino restaurant for you. No cutlery, no plates, just you and your team eating together, the Filipino way. How does Kamayan work? All you do is choose four dishes from an authentic selection that ranges from chicken inasal and Pinoy spare ribs to coconut adobo and beef kare kare. These will be served on a giant banana leaf with seasonal veggies, rice, plantain, veggie spring rolls, grilled corn and a gorgeous Filipino salad. Sound like a feast? £16.99 per adult is all you need to spend.
Address: 10 Kenway Road, Earl’s Court, London SW5 0RR
Opening hours: 12-10pm week days, 11am-10pm weekdays
Must-try: Two must-trys are marinated white milk-fish and the coated fried chicken
Kubo’s firm belief is that everything tastes better when eaten from a bowl. So most of their Filipino soul food is served in bowls. The pork adobo here is one of the best we’ve tried and is the restaurant’s speciality, and the crispy chicken sisig was a favourite of Anthony Bourdain. He was a big fan of the fried egg that’s served on top of the chicken, and having seen the way that popped yolk runs through the meat, we can really see why. Run by a passionate Filipino family, Kubo first opened in 2017 and you can now find it at Boxpark Croydon.
Address: Boxpark Croydon on George Street, Croydon CR0 1LD
Opening hours: Boxpark hours are Mon-Sat 9am-11pm, Sunday 9am-10pm
Must-try: Any kind of adobo (especially pork) is unique here. You can’t go wrong