Filipino restaurants in London? Rarer than hen’s teeth. There’s Josephine’s in Soho, a couple of interesting pop-ups and that’s about it. It’s a slightly odd cuisine – a meat-heavy mishmash of Spain, Malaysia and China – but it’s becoming popular in the States and where they go we often follow. Well, bar the really bonkers stuff like corn dogs and Easy Cheese. And guns.
This good-looking Kensington restaurant is the first foray from a small group with branches over in the Philippines. It takes its name from the grandfather of one of the owners, General Carlos P Romulo – former diplomat, statesman, soldier, journalist, publisher, author and sometime president of the UN General Assembly. Not a bad CV.
I think he’d approve of the food here, not least the huge portions (he must have worked up an appetite). On my visit, the only flaw was that the short ribs were slightly overcooked, but they still came with a whack of flavour and a gorgeous honey, soy and garlic glaze.
Everything else was a joy, especially the classic dishes. Pork sisig is usually made with pig’s face (including the snout) but here they use pork belly, chopped, seared and topped with fried egg, pickled apples and caramelised shallots. It was excellent. As was their take on Filipino adobo, with chicken and pork belly marinated and cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic.
Service was hugely warm, and the atmosphere fun: when was the last time you saw two tables clapping a twerking child? I’m pretty sure that happened.