words Adam Boatman
When I found out that Luzon, a new Filipino pop-up, was hidden within Generator hostel I almost didn’t go. Something about the braving the hordes of be-vested Aussies didn’t make it sound like my perfect night.
So when my comrade and I failed to find the hidden hostel, it’s unsurprising really that the flap of flip-flops and the glare of orange wayfarers showed us the way.
Luckily that was the one and only time my fears were confirmed. The inside of Generator was incredibly well-designed: warm, modern and surprisingly mellow. The restaurant is set back from the main bar, partially obscured by wood panelling with a view of the kitchen opposite. It’s actually easy to forget you’re in a hostel, even if the bar and toasty chill-out room serves as a reminder. Such a good reminder, in fact, that I almost missed the last Tube home to opt for a bed upstairs.
This isn’t about Generator, though, it’s about new pop-up sensation Luzon, and the probable beginnings of a Filipino craze that hasn’t quite yet struck London (unlike everything else), but will pack a punch when it does.
Our first drinks of the night were a pair of San Miguels, and no, not the Spanish beer. It turns out those sneaky colonialists actually stole the name from the Philippines and in true European fashion made a cheap knock-off to accompany it. The 9% Red Horse beer, made by San Miguel, quieted my nay-saying mind and got the night off with a bittersweet bang.
Tiny canapés of butternut squash purée and relish soon followed. The sweet, earthy taste set against the sharp relish had me grappling for more immediately, and if weren’t for the miserly (read: sensible) servers I would have probably Mr Creosoted myself. In the end I’m glad they did, as the next course was worth waiting for.
Scallop ceviche. I love ceviche. I’m a strong believer in fish being served as uncooked as possible, and if it can’t be raw, it better be marinaded in something zesty, alcoholic or otherwise delicious. Unfortunately scallops may be the one fishy thing this rule doesn’t apply to. It’s so gloriously meaty that cooking it in anything other than a pan full of butter seems like a bit of a shame. That said, the fresh, slightly spicy scallops were really very good, just not as caramelised as I like them.
Chicken adobo is a new one to me, and a genuine revelation. It was simple dish, but one which allowed the strong flavours of garlic and soy to really do their job. The chicken melted in the mouth thanks to the tangy vinegar that added the final touch to this trinity of taste. I will definitely be (unsuccessfully) attempting to recreate this in the future.
It all ended with a flan. A sentence I never thought I’d write with a positive slant, but thankfully Filipino flan, much like Filipino San Miguel, has almost nothing to do with its cloying European cousin. The sweet Leche Flan with a golden caramel topping was perfectly light and went incredibly well with a fiery shot of rum and another bottle of Red Horse beer.
A new experience for me, a new type of cuisine for London, Luzon restaurant is open for three months, and I’m willing to bet that it is the best meal you are going to get in any hostel in London. Dare I say, it may even be worth enduring the numerous hairless Aussie bodies that populate the place. In fact it’s definitely worth it, if only for a glorious plate of chicken adobo and a flan that doesn’t taste like your grandmother’s.