One of the things that I miss is the food back home. I had the luxury of going home in the weekends to mooch off my parents and eat a nice meal such as rice and various other Filipino dishes. There’s nothing like greasy Filipino food once in a while. Unfortunately with the move here, it’s been hard to find to satisfy that craving. First off, I’m still looking for a place that sells a rice cooker. I can do it all old school and cook it in a pot, but haven’t convinced myself yet to go that route.
Anyway, so when my sister and Mom visited a month back they asked a Filipino guy that worked at this souvenir store where to go get some Filipino food. He mentioned a restaurant by Earl's Court that he loved called: F.M. Pasyalan. I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to go, but never had a chance since it’s about a 40 min tube ride to get over there. Luckily I had to meet some friends near that area for a birthday party, so part of my plan was to make a visit for dinner.
So after the birthday party with an old friend, and being known as the "token" American guy, I made my way to Earl's court. I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if it was all formal and gourmet-like, or some hole in the wall. I get off the tube station and make my way to the restaurant. All I was told was to make a "right" after getting off the train and exiting the station. I didn't know how far the restaurant was. So I continued on. Sure enough I knew I was in the right direction when I pass a bus stop with about 4-5 Filipinos waiting. I continue and on a side street I walk past another group talking in the native tongue discussing where to go next. I walk for about a minute more, and sure enough, there it was: “F.M. Pasyalan.” It was like a mirage in the middle of a desert. There was a sign with “Asian Cuisine” in front and “Chinese-Thai-Filipino Food” underneath it.
I perform my normal routine of walking past it pretending I have no intention of entering at all. My quick glance revealed that the restaurant was half full of people and rather small. My arrival would definitely not go unnoticed. Luckily I saw a convenience store nearby, so I bought a car magazine to serve as my security blanket. Something I could pretend to read while I ate alone. I was pretty committed to eating there, even though I wasn’t even that hungry.
I finally walk in and after the whole room stops eating and stares at me, I’m greeted by a Filipina woman who immediately starts speaking Tagalog. I understand her, and for some reason, this stupid English accent comes out of my mouth. I respond in my british wannabe accent,
and she points to a table and I go
I have no idea why the stupid English accent came out. I really don’t. You would think my FOB Filipino accent would have surfaced, but no, it was the English accent that decided to rear its ugly head.
Anyway, I sit down, and she asks me what if want the buffet and what I want to drink in Tagalog. I respond with:
“Yes buffet is fine, Water please.” (Luckily my normal accent comes out.)
She acknowledges and realizes that I do understand what she’s saying, so she continues and tells me something again in Tagalog. At this point I had no idea what she was saying. After saying “excuse me” a few times, she responds with:
“You go get now.”
So the spread is pretty impressive. All kinds of greasy Filipino food including: fried rice, caldereta, and lechon. As I pile everything on my plate, I walk back to my table in the corner and check everyone out. With a nice flat screen LCD TV in the corner playing a Filipino channel, I try to listen attentively to other people eating. Not to be nosey in anyway, but to listen and look for the Filipino British Accent.
Sure enough, the lady sitting a table across from me sounded like she had one. I continue to eat, and I really try and make the effort to block out the outside noise and hone into what she’s saying. She was probably early 20s, accompanied by her mother and grandmother. Now you have to picture this and my physical expressions. I really couldn’t pick up the accent at all. I don’t think the loud obnoxious Filipino channel in the background was helping. So I continue to eat and try not to worry about it. I enjoy the food from the buffet.
Then I come up with a brilliant idea. Well, maybe not so brilliant, but at the time it was. The next time I was going to get a plate of food I was going to walk by their table and “listen in.” But I had to time it perfectly so I would walk by right when she was talking.
If there was someone watching me through this whole process, they would have a laugh. Anyway, I proceed to finish my first plate, determined to get a second. Timing was critical, so when I found it was the right time, I stood up and walked past.
Dammit! Wrong timing! She wasn’t talking!
I get my second plate and try and walk by again and no luck.
But alas. While I was getting into my second plate, there was a point where everyone stopped talking, and all I heard was this lady. Its like time stood still and everyone shut up so I could hear her. Seriously. Because when that happened, I “distinctly” heard her accent. I picked it up right away.
YES VICTORY! There are Filipinos with British Accents! Oh the joy!
Once I heard it the first time and picked it up, I started laughing to myself. I had to keep my head down because I was giggling a little too much. I even think to a point that someone might notice that I was insane or something. Its pretty interesting to hear that’s for sure. And the fact that I waited for this moment to finally come, it was hilarious.
Anyway that’s my story. Sorry so long. Food was good, left a decent tip, and I knew I was going to go back in a couple weeks.