From fashionable West to trendy East

For two days this summer, Romulo Café planted the flag for fine Filipino cuisine in East London, taking part in the very first We Love Asian Food Festival held at historic Old Spitalfields Market on 13th and 14th July. 

Rowena Romulo’s restaurant – twice winner of Time Out magazine’s ‘Most Loved Restaurant in Kensington’ award — set up stall among over 30 other food vendors at the festival designed to be a real foodie celebration. True enough, despite the scorching weather, the festival attracted an estimated 5,000-6,000 strong crowd eager to sample everything deliciously Asian, from sushi to gyoza, dumplings to noodle soups, bao buns to fragrant speciality teas. 

Not to be outdone, Rowena and partner Chris Joseph offered a ‘Feast from the East’ — Filipino-style — with festival-friendly versions of some of Romulo Café’s brand new dishes, together with tubs of ube ice cream. The ice cream proved irresistible, and before long it had all run out, with the festival’s largely Western clientele intrigued by the colour purple and drawn by a desperate need to shake off the heat. 

Safe to say that by the end of the two-day festival, Romulo Café’s brand of fine Filipino food had certainly made an impression. Supplies of Chicken Sisig and Beef Adobo sliders had all but disappeared, and word had got around about the empanadas (lamb and vegetable) being the ones to try.

Asked how she felt the two days had gone, Rowena said, ‘We enjoyed it. This was a great way to introduce good Filipino food to a wider audience. We know that the trend-setters and style makers get why our cuisine is so amazing, but it’s important to us that the whole world starts appreciating how tasty and special Filipino cuisine is. 

Chris added, ‘What really made us happy was when people started instagramming our food at the festival and taking selfies holding ube ice cream. Someone even came back to say he would have to come to our restaurant in Kensington after trying the empanadas. They were excited about the pandesal bread. But what we don’t realise, being Filipinos in love with our food, is that there is a world out there to convert. I think we’re getting there!’

Romulo Café has just been shortlisted in the Best Restaurant category of the 2018 Kensington & Chelsea Business Awards.

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