Thursday, 21 August 2014

Lutong Pinoy revisited: where we satisfied some cravings

My friend K had mega postpartum Filo food cravings so we decided to have a mega postpartum catch up over dinner. The trek-worthy Port of Manila in Hammersmith has closed shop (although they still cater) so we booked a table at Lutong Pinoy. 

I realised how I've learned to appreciate more Filipino dishes when I left the Philippines. I ate a lot growing up but was quite picky. I'd have anything inihaw (grilled) or prito (fried) but wouldn't touch anything with tomato sauce such as menudo and afritada or clear soup like nilaga or tinola. I still have my preferences now, but my palate for Filo food has definitely evolved. 

Chicharon bulaklak (£6) for starters. I never used to eat these fried pork intestines as my mother prohibited me from doing so for 'health reasons'.

Longanisa (£6.25) Growing up, I wasn't a fan of these Filo-version of pork sausages. However, I've developed a taste for the garlicky ones over time and have started to enjoy the sweet version. 

Laing (£5.50) is my favourite Filo dish of all time. It came swimming in a pool of coconut milk during our previous visit. Thankfully they got the balance right this time around.

I only started liking lechon paksiw (£6.50) in college. It's a stew made with the leftovers of lechon (that's roast pig for you Filo food newbs, aka Anthony Bourdain's "best pig ever"). Granted, it is not the best I've had but it was good enough to satisfy a craving.

We also had lechon kawali (£8). That's deep fried pork belly for you lot. I was slightly disappointed that the skin didn't crackle to our liking, but... deep-fried pork belly. Come on. And you can never go wrong with lechon sauce.

To break our swine intake overload, I ordered daing na bangus (£9.50). This is something Filipinos would eat for breakfast... with garlic fried rice. It's 'butterflied' milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic, then fried. I never liked this before as I was a cereal eater as a child.

We ended up getting halo-halo (£3.50) for dessert, something else I didn't really like growing up. For Filo food newbs, this is a shaved ice dessert similar to kacang. It wasn't as mind-blowing as The Pen's halo-halo, but I liked that it was not overly sweet.

Looking back at our orders that night, my tween self would have probably only eaten two dishes. Thank God my palate's a bit more mature now and I get to enjoy all these (and a lot more) dishes I used to ignore.

From a global point of view, Filipino cuisine is really the poster child of 'fusion' cuisine. It's odd, unfamiliar, and definitely different from its more popular Southeast Asian counterparts. But if you experience it yourself, you may find how it's a reflection of Philippine history. If you dig your forks a little deeper though, I think you'd find it's quite like the Filipino people - bold and excitable, familial and welcoming, and absolutely evolving.

Lutong Pinoy
10 Kenway Rd, London SW5 0RR | +44(0)20 7244 0007
Ave spend pp: £20
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1 comment:

  1. This is such an interesting post - despite having SE Asian roots and an aunt from the Philippines, I've never tried Filipino food! The halo-halo definitely does look like ais kacang, though :D And I'd love to try lechon if it's so loved by Anthony Bourdain. Good to know that there's restaurants catering for expats here! And I totally agree - much of South-East Asian cuisine reveals the multi-faceted colonial history of our countries :)

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure