Discover
Map
Articles
More
Article

Little Tindahan

'Tindahan' is the Tagalog word for 'store'.

With one half of Little Places being Filipino, we wanted to celebrate the pinoy chefs who are bringing the culture & flavours of the Philippines here to the UK. We spoke to 5 of our favourite Filipino-owned Little Places & asked them about their business & Filipino culture in London.

article nav
Outdoor shot of Kapihan
Credit: Kapihan's Instagram (@k_a_p_i_h_a_n)

Kapihan

Battersea

Tell us a bit about yourself & your brand

We are Kapihan which literally translates to 'coffee house' in tagalog. We source coffee from farms around the Philippines and roast it here in London. We bake in house a rotating selection of traditional and modernised filipino bakes. We are a family run team David, Nigel, Rosemary and Plams.

How would you describe Filipino cuisine to someone who has never had it before?

I always like to describe the textures and flavours with our own products. A lot of our bakes are a balance of sweet and savoury. Pandesal can look just like a bread roll from a far, but the texture inside has to be soft, the crust a little crispy, texture of the breadcrumbs on the outer and the taste a fine balance of sweet and salty. Good Pandesal doesn't dry out quickly and stays soft. I don't like comparing Filipino food to other asian cuisines or giving a long encyclopedia explanation of the history. I think is a better introduction giving a few hints and the customer making their own assessment.

Pandesal being dipped into a fancy coffee
Credit: Kapihan's Instagram (@k_a_p_i_h_a_n)

What’s a must-try Filipino dish?

There are too many, but if I had to choose it would be a simple selection of pork bbq and rice. Trinity sauce of soy, calamansi, chili. My comfort food is chicken tinola with green papaya and chili leaves.


What’s your favourite thing about the Filipino culture?

Favourite thing about Filipino culture is we are known to be a hospitable people - kind and resourceful. Our sense of humour during the most difficult times makes everything better.


What’s your favourite Filipino-owned little place in the UK?

Running a full time business, we don’t manage to get much time for ourselves. But I remember BBQ Dreams when they were at Kerb - it was outstanding. We have had the pleasure to collaboration with Mary San Pablo at Luto - her food is also delicious. If we had more time on our hands, we would love to try the many others.


Kapihan

Single Origins Coffees from the Philippines

13A Parkgate Rd, Battersea, London SW11 4NL

Ligaya Bakery

Online only

Tell us a bit about yourself & your brand

My name is Jaycee and I founded Cupcakegirl London, which has now rebranded to Ligaya Bakery. I specialise in cupcakes and cakes. I was born in the Philippines but moved to London when I was still very young. A really big part of my brand is specialising in Filipino flavours - I’m working on a new cupcake range that highlights all the many delicious flavours of the Philippines. It definitely needs to have its moment to shine in the food industry in the UK, as Filipino food has some of the most diverse and tasty dishes.

Credit: Gemma's Instagram (@gemtakesfoodpics)

How would you describe Filipino cuisine to someone who has never had it before?

I’ve heard someone word it really well as ‘a melting pot of cultures’ because of its colonisation history. If I had to boil it down, I would definitely say we like to have stew based meat dishes with lots of flavour and it has to be accompanied by rice. As we are a tropical island, fresh vegetables and fruit is also very commonly used in our dishes and we Filipinos don’t like to waste food and will use every part of the meat to make dishes (e.g. dinakdakan, chicharron bulaklak, and papitan). 

I love how we always find a reason to cook and celebrate. I feel like we are very community based and we do a lot of that over sharing a meal.

What’s a must-try Filipino dish?

Palabok is my absolute favourite - I always describe it as the noodle version of paella.

What’s your favourite thing about the Filipino culture?

I love how we always find a reason to cook and celebrate. I feel like we are very community based and we do a lot of that over sharing a meal. We are generally very happy people and love a good ‘handa’ and karaoke session.

What’s your favourite Filipino-owned little place in the UK?

I can’t pick just one as they’re my favourite for different reasons. I think when it comes to restaurants Rapsa @ 100 Hoxton is my go to. I love the whole vibe and the presentation of the food, not to mention the taste of the dishes. When it comes to bread and coffee - Kapihan! Not only are their coffees and breads amazing, but the story behind their brand and how they’re so homegrown and focused on quality is amazing.

Ligaya Bakery

Specialising in Filipino flavours

Eatsaymada

E15 collection

Tell us a bit about yourself & your brand

Eatsaymada is a family run home-made business which was started by myself, my wife, sister and brother in law.  It all started as a result of being furloughed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of my days consisted of baking and cooking at home - my baking skills actually came from my late mother who had a passion for baking and loved to bake a wide variety of Filipino breads.
We decided to specialize in Ensaymada as we felt there were already quite a few companies similar to ourselves that were making the baked Filipino goods but surprisingly, not Ensaymadas. We added our own touch of flair and creativity and we came up with our take on an old time classic. 

Credit: Eatsaymada's Instagram (@eatsaymada)

How would you describe Filipino cuisine to someone who has never had it before?

Filipino favourite dishes are either salty or sour or both and sometimes paired with something sweet. Just like our sweet-savoury ‘Cheese-e’ ensaymada that has a buttercream swirl topped with grated cheese.

Filipinos are all about families and food! Mix them together and you have a mass social gathering and you don’t even need an invite.

What’s a must-try Filipino dish?

Collectively we would recommend oxtail kare kare, caldereta and pork adobo. 

Credit: Eatsaymada's Instagram (@eatsaymada)

What’s your favourite thing about the Filipino culture?

Filipinos are all about families and food! Mix them together and you have a mass social gathering and you don’t even need an invite.

What’s your favourite Filipino-owned little place in the UK?

The four of us absolutely love to eat at a little Filipino family owned restaurant in Tower Hill called Cirillo. They also have their own twist on traditional Filipino dishes. It’s a small restaurant with a home style feel and delicious food.

Eatsaymada

Freshly baked ensaymadas

The Adobros

New Cross

Tell us a bit about yourself & your brand

The Adobros originally consisted of myself (Mark) and my brother (Mike, who now lives in Tokyo) – we are each other’s Adobro! We grew up in Hong Kong to an English father (from the Isle of Wight) and a Filipina mother (from Pasig in Manila), and after a short stint in Singapore, came with our family to the UK. We founded The Adobros back in 2013, because we felt that there was a real lack of mind-blowing Filipino food in London at the time; we never felt that there was somewhere we could wholeheartedly recommend to our friends, other than our own home-cooking, which they thankfully quite liked!

I’ve heard our evenings described as a “dinner party with friends you haven’t met yet” and I really like that description!

And that’s carried over into The Adobros’ story: we are first and foremost a home and family business, offering up our home-cooked taste of the Philippines at intimate supper clubs from the comfort of our flat, and at the occasional pop-up.
I’ve heard our evenings described as a “dinner party with friends you haven’t met yet”, and I really like that description! We bring the renowned hospitality and delicious flavours of the Philippines, our guests bring their good selves, and we all have great fun!

Credit: The Adobros' Instagram (@theadobros)

How would you describe Filipino cuisine to someone who has never had it before?

It’s hard to capture the totality of our cuisine in one short answer! One of the great things about doing the supper club has been that I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much more about our cuisine, particularly the regional variations that I never grew up with. But I like to tell people that Filipino flavours are bold and punchy, and unapologetically so.

What’s a must-try Filipino dish?

It will sound like a bit of a cliché, but I do like to use adobo as the gateway to Filipino food – and we are The Adobros after all! Adobo is essentially an indigenous vinegar stew, but at the same time it’s also a dish that has a deep story that can tell so much about the Philippines. There’s many different variations, and all are reflective of our geography and our history, and so it can offer so much to the first-time eater of Filipino food. Plus, did I mention that adobo is just so delicious??

Credit: The Adobros' Instagram (@theadobros)

What’s your favourite thing about the Filipino culture?

I would say adaptability is something that I quite admire – the ability to fit into and find our place in the world, despite the circumstances. You’ll see so much creativity from Filipinos – and so much resilience.

What’s your favourite Filipino-owned little place in the UK?

Aside from The Adobros? I’m a big fan of Mamasons – I love their branding, their loudness, their uncompromising and delicious flavours… they have really stood up, shouted about being Filipino, and are making people take notice. It also helps that Omar, Mae and co. are all a really solid bunch, so I’m happy to support some good friends who dish up some tasty treats.

The Adobros

Filipino supper club in London

Romulo

Kensington

Tell us a bit about yourself & your brand

I spent over 20 years in the corporate world in Manila, NY, Milan and London before I opened Romulo Café and Restaurant. I was a banker, and travelling often, living and being exposed to different cultures made me realise that despite different time zones, we really are all connected somehow. 

Credit: Romulo Instagram (@romulocafelondon)

We set up the restaurant four years ago in what I think is a sweet little corner of Kensington, just a few minutes’ walk to Holland Park. Time flies. Sandie, my sister, and her husband Enzo launched Romulo in Manila over 10 years ago, and their idea, which I’ve adopted here was to honour my grandfather’s life & legacies - General Carlos P. Romulo. He was so accomplished and his famous treatise ‘I Am A Filipino’ was something many Filipino students and scholars had to learn and hopefully take to heart. Apart from being a global statesman, diplomat, writer and teacher, he was also a fabulous gourmand and he and my grandmother passed down to their grandchildren a real appreciation for good food served nicely and with great care for presentation.

When Chris and I conjured up Romulo Café in London, we wanted people to learn about and experience Filipino food at its finest, and we wanted all Filipinos, regardless of where they lived or what they did, to feel Romulo Café was theirs. That is, a home they could be proud of and where they could always feel safe and welcome. The essence of our brand is that: family, hospitality and quality. And hard work to achieve our goals. We don’t compromise on any of those (and the present time means we have to work even harder). But to me, that is the true essence of the Filipino.

How would you describe Filipino cuisine to someone who has never had it before?

A must try! It is different to any other Asian cuisine because we bring together the flavours and influences of our history - Spanish, Malay, Chinese, the Americas - into our cooking but make them distinctly our own. Overall, the predominant flavour is a melding of sour and sweet, but these are balanced and subtle. At Romulo, I have to stress that our dishes are based on my family’s heirloom recipes lovingly tweaked by my grandmother, Virginia Llamas Romulo and now elevated and contemporised by our Head Chef Jeremy Villanueva . So our Kare Kare is called ‘Tito Greg’s Kare-Kare’. We personalised it!

What's a must try Filipino dish?

A difficult one, but I would say adobo. It’s not really a dish as such but a cooking style or even marinade. In any case, it is considered the quintessential Filipino dish, and every region and even family has its own take on it. 

Credit: Romulo Instagram (@romulocafelondon)

What’s your favourite thing about the Filipino culture?

Our hospitality, family-centredness and sense of generosity. Even towards strangers. The good-heartedness which unfortunately is sometimes taken for naïveté.

What’s your favourite Filipino-owned little place in the UK?

Apart from Romulo? There are several Filipino owned shops, groceries, food trucks and market stalls in the UK and I applaud everyone’s efforts to raise the profile of Filipino cuisine and who are helping put Filipino food on the culinary map in the UK.

Romulo

The very best of fine Filipino cuisine

343 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6NW