Filipino cuisine is not as well known as other Asian cuisines in London. Romulo Cafe is one of the places where you can sample some of the most iconic Filipino dishes.
Romulo Cafe started as a small chain of restaurants in Manila by one of General Romulo’s grand daughters to remember his legacy. A few years later, her sister Rowena decided to open a London outpost.
Continuing with their success using their grandmother’s family recipes at home, the London branch is introducing Filipino cuisine to a new audience,
Filipino cuisine has been influenced by trade, immigration and colonisation over the centuries like in other Asian countries. Philipines being on the sailing route from the new worlds, they have incorporated the ingredients that the Spanish brought back like potatoes and tomatoes. Dishes like Chicken Relleno, a stuffed chicken dish shows their Spanish roots with the addition of chorizo and jamon. The only Filipino dish I can name is adobo which is a home cooking favourite.
On their menu, you will find some unusual ingredients like annatto which is a red seed used to make a red oil to dress dishes and add colour. Kalamansi is a small fragrant lime which you can only get in frozen juice form in London as it is illegal to import for some reason.
Romulo Cafe in Kensington is decorated in a similar way to the ones in Manila. Recreating the ambience of their family home. On the day that we were there, they were hosting a Filipino wedding in the back room.
Our host and the Filipino Counsel General on the next table guided us around the unfamiliar menu, suggesting that we start off with some small sharing plates. We munched on a basket of warm pandesal bread rolls while perusing the menu. (These are available to buy by the dozen). The menu is designed to be eaten, family style. with sharing dish.
The must-have dishes are Chicken Inasal Sisig. A dish of chicken marinated in annatto, green chilli, garlic and lemongrass then served in a sizzling dish and topped with crispy chicken crackling.
Next, Chicken Relleno, a family favourite as it was the dish that won a lot of guests over at the Filipino embassy in the US when the General and his wife lived there.
Kilawin is a Filipino raw fish dish, not unlike ceviche. Loved their fragrant kalamansi cured tuna dish, very refreshing flavours.
Luckily for us, they were hosting a wedding that day and had made extra Lechon (roast suckling pic) and we got to sample this iconic dish.
Their Banana Turon (like a banana spring roll) was my favourite, served with a warm toffee sauce. Everyone should definitely try the eyecatching purple cheesecake made with the purple yam that they call ube. Ube is also used to make the stunning purple ice cream. (If you are travelling from Manila, they sell this ice cream at the airport in handy frozen containers).
It is no wonder that the Filipino community has embraced Romulo Cafe. They are so friendly and hospitable and the food is just like they serve back home, as endorsed by the Filipino embassy staff. I would highly recommend them, especially if you have not experienced Filipino cuisine yet. You will love it.
343 Kensington High St,
London W8 6NW
EatCookExplore was a guest of Romulo Cafe