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Romulo Cafe & Restaurant

Home > London > Fine Dining | Restaurants | Vegetarian
by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published March 8th 2020
Food From The Philippines
Romulo restaurant has a fascinating history, set up by a Filipino general and serving authentic dishes from The Philippines in London. We took a look at what's on offer at the eatery in Kensington.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
Romulo is an attractive restaurant in Kensington

General Carlos Romulo had a distinguished career as a diplomat but also a love of cuisine from his home country of The Philippines, where the food is a mix of Spanish, Chinese, Malay and American influences.

It led to him setting up a family business of three restaurants under the name Romulo Cafe and Restaurant in his home country. This London venue is the brand's first international outpost and managed by the General's granddaughter Rowena Romulo.

You'll find this attractive restaurant on Kensington High Street, near the Design Museum. Inside, it's got a sophisticated, modern interior with its history dotted across the walls - paintings and black and white photographs charting the career of General Romulo as a diplomat.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
The stylish interior of Romulo

There's a wide range of food on the menu that cater to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters. Choosing from the a la carte menu, we got a good selection from across the Platitos (smaller tapas-like sharer plates) and Platos (large family-size sharing plates). Both of them had plentiful portion sizes.

Sticking to authentic ingredients found in The Philippines, it's an interesting menu with plenty of jackfruit - which tastes similar to artichoke - seafood from king prawns to squid. There's also a lot of pork, chicken and purple yam, which makes for beautifully bright plates of food in shades of indigo.

The Platitos start at around £8 per dish (suitable for two people) with the larger Platos from £16.50, which we picked a selection of while munching on the moorish pandesal light and fluffy Filipino bread.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
The Sizzling Chicken Inasal Sisig

Encouraged to try the Sizzling Chicken Inasal Sisig (£8.50) because it is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes, I didn't regret it.

You can smell the heavenly trinity of ginger, garlic and lemongrass as it approaches, fizzling in a hot saucepan. There's delicious crisped chicken skin pieces on top with the tender marinated chicken pieces underneath combined with a creamy lip-licking mayonnaise merging with spring onion, chilli and the oily marinade. Absolutely delicious.

Alongside this, we had the Pork Belly Adobo that had been slow-cooked for over eight hours and came in soy sauce and garlic with potatoes on the side. Flavoursome and tender.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
The beautifully presented stuffed squid

Then there was the Young Jackfruit and Coconut Stew, also called Ginataang Langka, which was similar to an Indian Korma. Very creamy with the lovely savoury flavour of the Jackfruit a welcome focus on this bright yellow curry.

Seafood fans have plenty of choice including tuna. The Chilli King Prawns came whole and succulent in a coconut milk and lobster coulis (£11.50). While the Chargrilled Stuffed Squid is huge and bare, filled with tomato, cheese and onion and coiled over a bed of squid ink rice. The taste of the sea on a plate.

On the side, the noodles are light, as is the rice, which provides a good combination with the various Platitos.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
A selection of colourful dishes at Romulo

As we progress through the meal, it's clear how impeccable the service is. Quick, efficient but also friendly and helpful. The food turns up quickly and is perfectly cooked.

There were only two of us but I noticed a large family gathering was receiving the same attention with so many more dishes to serve up.

The restaurant became busy soon after opening after midday and with many people connected to The Philippines, which is a nod to its authenticity.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
Young Jackfruit and Coconut Stew (Ginataang Langka)

Desserts feel like an adventure as they appear so colourful and different from British puddings.

There's plenty of choice from the Ube Cheesecake, made with purple yams, to a Filipino Banana Split, filled with yams, mango, coconut ice cream and crushed pineapple along with cream.

There's the modern Filipino dessert Sans Rival and a Mango Float too, but we picked two of the more traditional sweet dishes from The Philippines - Halo, Halo and Banana Turon.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
Pretty and delicious desserts at Romulo

Halo, Halo is the equivalent of a more vibrant looking trifle. It's a mixture of exotic flavours and textures from the islands of The Philippines. It includes purple yam ice cream, banana puree, jackfruit, leche flan, pandan jelly and milk granita.

There's a range of ice-cold with tepid and crunch with soft fruit - and it all looks and tastes so beautiful with bright purples, yellows and greens under a confetti of white crispy sprinkles over the top.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
Sweet, crispy and refreshing - the Halo Halo dessert

More familiar are the Banana Turon, which are hot banana fritters that come with ice cream. They come in a light, crispy pastry and are a delicious way to conclude a meal. Very yummy indeed.

As a licensed premise, you can also choose from an extensive wine list at the restaurant that caters for all tastes.

Romulo, London, Kensington, Filipino food, Philippines
General Romulo and his wife Virginia Llamas-Romulo

Filipino food doesn't seem to be widely available in the UK compared to the more common Chinese and Korean cafes. Getting to try such a wide range of these delicious dishes from the Far East country at Romulo felt like a special treat and opened my eyes and taste buds to something completely fresh. I'll be hurrying back very soon for more.

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Why? Taste delicious food from The Philippines in London
When: From midday daily
Phone: 020 3141 6390
Where: Romulo Café & Restaurant London, 343 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6NW
Cost: Dishes from £8, average meal from £20
Your Comment
The desserts sound very interesting, not like anything I've seen before.
by mulgr (score: 0|6) 808 days ago
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