The Incidental Tourist

A little Filipino Heaven in the midst of London’s polite chaos

Josephines Restaurant

I first found Josephine’s Restaurant in February 2014 when I was in London for work. I’m half Filipino and miss the savory and delicious foods of my people and try to find a Filipino restaurant any time I travel. Sometimes that works out, sometimes not.  In this case, it worked out very well.

I was craving that delicious mix of Spanish, Asian and other flavors that is the hallmark of Filipino cuisine during that London excursion and after some internet searching I found Josephine’s Restaurant on a quiet street full of restaurants near Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, two of London’s bigger shopping areas.  To say that it was good would be understating the quality of food.  Josephine’s serves up the best Filipino food I’ve had outside the islands.

Josephine’s is also quite well known and often voted the best Filipino food in London.  They fill up, so it’s best to make a reservation either by calling or via their website.  They’ve hosted many famous people for dinner, my favorite being Manny Pacquiao, world class boxer, representative of the people and a national hero.

This time, I found myself on another trip to Europe with the ability to take an overnight layover in London on the way home from Malta.  This seemed like a no-brainer to me and I did not hesitate. I arranged an overnight in London specifically so I could eat dinner at Josephine’s and once again, I was not disappointed.

The first time I went with my Swiss friend Lucien, and we had a veritable smorgasbord of deliciousness.  This time, as I was alone, I decided to be a bit more circumspect and ordered just a couple favorites I haven’t had in a long while.  For starters, they served up freshly made, crunchy Lumpia Maynila.  These are typical asian style fried rolls stuffed with ground pork and shredded veggies with a slightly sweet, but spicy pepper sauce to dip them in.  They were as good, or better than the ones I make myself.

For the main course, I had the traditional Filipino dish, Pork Adobo.  Their Adobo is simply heavenly. They use the simple sauce of soy, sugar, vinegar, garlic and peppercorns and slow cook soft and tasty pork belly.  No tough cuts used, the pork belly is my favorite cut of pork for good reason, and their Adobo put it to very good use.

This, I washed down with a Red Horse beer, followed by a glass of Mango juice.  Red Horse is a slightly heavier lager made in the Philippines by San Miguel and goes very well with the savory dishes of my people.  The Mango is exactly what you expect.  Mango.  It’s a dinner staple I was introduced to by my family when I first visited them in Manila.

Leche FlanFor afters, I wanted a bit of everything on the menu.  They had so many of my favorites, but I finally settled on Leche Flan, the Filipino take on the traditional Spanish flan.  Similar, but thicker, slightly sweeter and heavier than Spanish or Mexican flan, served up with a drizzle of fruit syrup to give it a bit of tang.  But I just had to have more, so I also picked up my absolute favorite dessert, Cassava, a thick creamy pie that is served hot on the bottom and cold up top. The temperature difference makes for a very delicious treat with warm, crunchy crust below and cool, thick cassava up top.

Josephine’s is completely authentic, well prepared and presented and absolutely delicious. My only complaint is that the non-Filipino wait staff seemed overwhelmed or confused at times. I even had to show two of them how to use the credit card machine for a non-chip-and-pin card (Sadly, most American cards still don’t use Chip and Pin). But other than that hiccough, once again I had a great experience and you can be sure that the next time I’m in London, Josephine’s will be serving me dinner again.

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