Peter Morrell visits this bright and innovative Filipino eatery in the West End that is the new sibling of the highly rated Romulo Restaurant in Kensington
Just before lockdown I visited Romulo Café and Restaurant in Kensington and was bowled over by the Filipino food. There was an array of undiscovered tastes, textures, flavours and colours that made the eating experience so enjoyable. Proof of the restaurant’s authenticity is the fact that it is the natural destination for London’s Filipino community when they want to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or just want a good night out.
At the end of the meal, I met owners Rowena and Chris who were both passionate about the restaurant and the food they serve. Fast forward two years and I was back meeting Rowena and Chris, but this time in their brand-new restaurant. They have weathered the lockdown storm and emerged stronger from it. Romulo is still running, and when it couldn’t open, they evolved a home delivery service that spanned London. They were also working hard supporting Filipino charities, and on this new Soho venture, Kasa and Kin, which means Home and Family.
The menu at the new restaurant has been designed by Michelin-starred chef and consultant Pat McDonald (The Savoy, Liberty of London) and Romulo’s brilliant executive chef, Jeremy Villanueva.
The restaurant is multi-purpose, bakery, bar and dining space. The mood changes throughout the day from coffee and pastries in the morning, through a buzzy lunchtime, to tea and cakes in the afternoon, and in the evening the lights are lowered, and menu extended, for a more intimate dining experience.
My wife and I went for lunch, on arrival we were impressed with the restaurant. It was large, bright, and airy with a good atmosphere. The most striking feature of the décor is a hand painted mural that runs along the full length of the longest wall. Painted by Filipino artist Kulay Labitigan, it depicts the 16th-century poem of Ibong Adarna the famous Filipino mythical bird but the mural also embraces re-birth, a tribute to the NHS, and the integration of all cultures in London.
The feature on the lunchtime menu is the ‘Imbento Box’. You can build your own meal from the menu. You start by selecting one of three chilled fresh rice paper spring rolls, chicken, shrimp or jackfruit and avocado. You then select a hot broth, chicken, beef or jackfruit. The main is a base of stir-fried noodles, jasmine rice or papaya salad, and the topping for this is beef, BBQ pork, crispy chicken, chilli salmon or grilled aubergine. There is also a side of Filipino atchara pickled cabbage slaw.
When the food arrived, it was in a beautiful, black custom-made lidded box, with each dish in a stylish ceramic bowl. The spring rolls were filled with large succulent spicy shrimps and crispy salad. Both the beef and chicken broths had great depth of flavour and delicious morsels of meat.
My base was the stir-fried noodles topped with moist and tender sticky pork with a five spice BBQ glaze. My wife had jasmine rice with Beef Kare Kare, slow cooked in a peanut sauce with sautéed shrimp paste, this final ingredient gave it a lovely umami kick. The consistent themes during the meal were that firstly all the meat had a melt in the mouth quality, secondly there were a lot of intriguing, layered taste and texture combinations, and finally the portions are very generous.
There is an extensive wine list, my wife had the Weng Weng, a pineapple juice, lime juice and grenadine mocktail, and I had two reds, the Primitivo ‘Grifone’ from Puglia, and the Chilean Aresti Carmenere Cabina from Curico, both very good and sold by the glass.
You cannot leave Romulo or Kasa and Kin without sampling Ube, purple yam. The opportunity presented itself amongst many interesting options on the dessert menu, the Tsunami cheesecake. The round dessert arrived crowned with pandan leaf infused purple yam and finished with small white chocolate balls. The waiter removed the wrapper from around the dessert and the topping cascaded down the side of the cheesecake – a great piece of culinary theatre.
Service was friendly and efficient throughout, and the meal was great value for money. The Imbento Box was a remarkable £19.75
I really enjoyed the Kasa and Kin dining experience, the décor, the food, the service, and the family ethos that Rowena and Chris have created. You really must give this new restaurant a try.
Kasa and Kin
52/53 Poland Street, London W1F 7NQ
020 7287 5400