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Vibrant and sophisticated, Romulo Café is putting Filipino cuisine firmly on London’s food map. It's named after Carlos P Romulo, a Nobel Prize-winning former Philippine Ambassador to the USA and is backed by his grandchildren. This is the first branch to open outside the Philippines (there are three in Manilla) and its green, white and black walls are filled with photographs of Romulo. Happy staff create a buzzing, irreverent atmosphere. In the kitchen (headed by an ex-Sushisamba chef) a South-East Asian repertoire is enhanced by Spanish and Latin influences. There’s much to tempt, such as pork belly with pickled apples and caramelised shallots or tuna kilawin (ceviche marinated in cane vinegar) – although don’t go expecting hot spices. Our highlight was an unusual side dish of ginataang sigarillas (runner beans combined with coconut milk and smoked fish to creamy, lip-smacking effect). Fried flying fish turned heads yet was too dry, but bagoong egg-fried rice (with shrimp paste and unripened mango) was an unalloyed success. Puddings are strictly for the sweet-toothed. The wine list concentrates on Europe, while cocktails display abundant creativity and certainly pack a punch. Overall, this impressive newcomer looks set to embellish the west London dining scene.
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