"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, August 28, 2008


There are few things more irritating than supper at an ethnic eatery with a person who has recently been to the country which the restaurant represents. Nothing will ever be a match for what they ate on their visit, the ingredients will be wrong and at some point, of course, they will use the word “authentic” by which time you are praying to the gods that they will choke on their pilaf or get a bit of stuffed guinea pig caught in their throat.

So, my apologies to my companion of last night, my new chum, Fiona who had to sit patiently as I prodded disconsolately at the various plates that passed across our table muttering the dreaded “A” word on more than one occasion.

One of the great surprises of my recent trip was The Philippines. I fell in love with the country, the people and the food, which was savoury, delicious and had all the elements DH crave in our food, pork, deep frying and often a combination of the two. Add to that spectacular salads, wonderful seafood and the classics of Lechon, Adobo and Kare Kare and the cuisine of this country of 7,000 islands was quickly promoted into the top ten of EAT MY GLOBE.

I am never quite convinced that because a restaurant is filled with ex-pats it is de facto any good. Being born in a country does not mean you are automatically an expert on your home cuisine, but the fact that Lutong Pinoy in Earls Court came highly recommended and seemed to cater exclusively to elements of London’s 200,000 strong Filipino community augured well as we entered the tiny little restaurant in Kenway St.

Service was charming and slightly eccentric that was definitely “authentic” (there’s that word again) so was the menu, which had all the staples I grew so fond of during my short visit. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ended. Fiona was kind enough to leave the ordering in my hands and we began with a fresh Lumpia, a form of loose spring roll, which at its best should resemble a Vietnamese Summer roll with a light casing protecting a fresh crunchy filling. Here, the casing was doughy, the vegetable filling mushy and the surrounding slick of sauce cloying. Pancit (noodles) mixed with vegetables were scarcely any better tasting as if they had been lying around all day waiting for someone stupid enough to eat them. We didn’t.

There are few things that fried pork can’t improve and things perked up when a plate of crispy pata arrived. It lacked the tenderness of the real thing, where pork knuckle or leg is boiled until tender and then deep fried to give a magnificent crunch, but when dipped in the bowl of sweet liver sauce served with it reminded me of why I ate pata just about every day of my visit.

Sisig, however, did not. The signature dish of Angeles is comprised of all the bits of the pig left over when all the good stuff has gone, chopped up with lots of chilli. It should come to the table sizzling on a cast iron plate so that the meat becomes crispy and the underside forms a crunchy crust that Filipino men can fight about over a beer. Our version was spicy enough but served on a plate that had not been heated enough so lacked any sizzle leaving it as just a tray of chopped meat with too much chilli.

If that was a disappointment then worse was to follow with the arrival of the Kare Kare, a stew of oxtail made with a peanut sauce. They were out of oxtail so we plumped for the beef version and were presented with a tired looking dish containing soft vegetables and meat that had been cooked to the texture of marshmallow. It could not even be rescued by the addition of Bagoong, the accompanying shrimp paste.

The bill including tip came to £40

This was a listless effort by a restaurant which looked and felt as if it had seen better days in the fifteen years it has been open, happy to serve ersatz tastes of glorious dishes to Londoners who perhaps can’t tell the difference and ex-pats happy for any small reminder of home. It may be odious to make comparisons, but I don’t need to because it is not just that there are certainly better places in The Philippines, I can’t help thinking they has to be a better Filipino restaurant in London.

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Blogger bob said...

I liked the food at joesphine's. Then again it had black pudding so whats not to like. If its authentic is of course is a good question.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 11:51:00 am  
Blogger sybil said...

i feel like i have to apologize on behalf of my peeps....

Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You take one trip to the Philippines and you think you're an expert on what the food is supposed to be like?!you obviously haven't got a clue!

Saturday, April 11, 2009 1:39:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

But, at least I have the balls to put a name to my comments unlike some of the worthless knobs who hide behind their keyboards


Saturday, April 11, 2009 1:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This review is fair and honest. To the person with no name, please read the whole review again. "Kailangan po tayong tumanggap nang negatibong kometaryo paminsan-minsan, para hindi tayo magmukhang ignorante". Translated: We need to receive negative comments every now and then, so that we wont be seen as ignorant. - A Punzalan.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Eggy said...

To Hermano 2, sadly you are dead on with your review. The only reason Filipinos go to this restaurant is because it's conveniently located and from lack of choice. I know of 5 Filipino restaurants here in London and most of them go for the buffet set-up simply because of lack of financial capital and restaurant knowhow. I'm a Filipino and I much rather go to a Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 5:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Galing lang kami sa London 2 days ago and unfortunately we went to this PInoy Resto (Lutong PINOy ) but people who worked here we're rude,not accomodating and not friendly.Not satisfied.THUMBS DOWN!!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011 10:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Ren B. said...

This restaurant is garbage. Very filthy. I remember putting my cell phone on the table and when i picked it up to answer a call, it was stuck. The tables are so smelly and sticky. The food was so bland at best. I think they were trying to save on seasonings. The servers also looks like they dont want to be there. Then lastly, I ordered "sago". As I was just going for my first sip, i noticed that the straw they gave me has bite marks on it. I complained and they gave me a new one. Guess what, the new straw have bite marks as well. I asked why they have bite marks. There was not answer. My conclusion is that they are reusing the straws. As to why, I don't rally know but it's a health hazard eating there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 11:43:00 pm  

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