Let me start off by saying that this was not a vacation. This trip was for work, with as much touristy things you can squeeze within a week. So, for OG readers of the blog, I will finally stop saying that I’ve been out of the country once. First time it was to New York, this time around it was in London – all for work. I cannot state that enough.

foodmetromanila is notatravelperson in the borough market of London
Can you spot the shameless #foodmetromanila plug?

The reason why I prefaced it that way is that it will explain why I didn’t eat at any of the sought after restaurants in London. Actually its two things: I had little time; and I had little money. The price of anything in the City of London is absolutely high!

There was a free Pizza Dinner our second night, a treat from our trip sponsor, which means it was also a business meeting — on a freaking Sunday evening! The place was called Pizza Union (not Pizza Express, those things creep up on you on the street when you’re least expecting it), it was a hip place that sold freshly made pizza with booze. Even though it was summer in London, it was still cooler than Manila and we had no problem eating out on the sidewalk (they had tables and benches set up outside, we didn’t sit down on the sidewalk munching on pizza). As things go around London, these were actually affordable. You get a whole pizza (about 12”) for about 5 to 6 quid, freshly made, and they have a Red Lion as a logo (Animo San Beda).

foodmetromanila pizza union pepperoni and carne pizza
Proper Pizza. Yes people, burnt edges are a must for brick oven pizza
foodmetromanila is notatravelperson and got to see Leadenhall Market
Also near our office, the beautiful Leadenhall Market. Potterheads, does this look familiar?
foodmetromanila notatravelperson the gherkin
Also near our office, Ladies and Gentlemen it’s the Gherkin!

I cooked my own food a lot. Instead of getting hotel rooms, we rented flats that have kitchens and a washer within the unit. Similar to New York, they don’t have malls or a big grocery store in the City. Well, the Marks and Spencer near our office had a good enough stocked grocery, but most of my groceries were done in the Tesco Express and Sainsbury local near my flat. This was cheaper than eating out (unless you want to try fast food all the time), but the prices of groceries are higher than what I’m used to.

What’s that? Marks and Spencer has a grocery? I know! It blew my mind! I mean, you can buy snacks and stuff from the M&S stores we have here in Manila, but you can buy produce in store there! It was a proper grocery store, at the basement level of this M&S! And although they have staff, everybody was doing self-checkout. This, and the efficient way the subway works, were the immediate things that made me realize exactly what the difference between a first world country is to a third world one (you know, like the Philippines). It’s not the look of the place. Dude, London is really old! There are also empty bottles of beer left almost anywhere. Seriously, I saw one on my walk to our office on a Tuesday!

foodmetromanila Fenchurch French Ordinary Court
Walk around and you’ll see the many alleys/courts within the city. There’s a hidden parking inside French Ordinary Court


foodmetromanila eating at itsu and somehow ordered a vegan meal
This, surprisingly, is not bland: Vegan Gyoza Udon from Itsu

Similar to my time in New York, I didn’t mind walking to get to places in London. It gets warm, our first day there was absolutely sweltering, but it was still mostly chilly. Walking around is actually a good idea because you just feel like you’re walking through history, and I acknowledge how cheesy that sounds! Like one of the last things I did before going home was go around to see the locations of the Jack the Ripper murders. These places look so mundane now, one is a pre-school and one is a modern office building, but if you know what to look for you’ll get s little chill thinking gruesome murders were committed in plain sight right a full decade ago.

foodmetromanila pret-a-manger smoked salmon
This smoked salmon sandwich from Pret actually had flavor. It was an exception.
foodmetromanila shareyourkape caffee verganano espresso
I got a lot of coffee, but that’s for a different blog (wink, wink)


Also similar to my time in New York, I was exposed to how arbitrary lunch was to everybody working in offices. It’s not a mistake that there are several sandwich places and cafes in the financial district, people really just prefer eating sandwiches in their stations during lunch. I understand this is so that they can get out of the office immediately after work, and then they have big dinners with their friends or families. I wanted to bring food I cooked to work, but I didn’t want to be the guy who stunk up the office with my spicy lunch, so I relented to a sandwich as well during most of the work week.

foodmetromanila watched the phantom of the opera in London
The home of the Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre!

foodmetromanila phantom of the opera west end

foodmetromanila shareyourkape caffe nero fenchurch
A normal cafe vibe. They have a lot of coffee shops, second and third wave!

Something I was unable to do in New York that I got to do here, and this is crazy because I was there for month compared to just a week in London, was watch a play. More specifically, the West End Production of The Phantom of the Opera where it all began, Her Majesty’s Theatre. The Theatre was old, had no elevator, and our seats were at the very top in the balcony – but I absolutely loved it! It was the highlight of my trip! It was also nice that you can take a pint of beer to your seat, provided you buy it from the theatre bar.

The area collectively known as West End is an absolutely lively and lovely area. It’s just as crazy as Times Square, without the skyscrapers. There’s the Piccadilly Circus (a rotunda for us Filipinos), Leicester Square, the whole area of Covent Gardens, restaurants and theaters right next to each other. Should definitely be a place to hit up during a trip to London. If you don’t care about where you’re sitting, you can hit up this little booth called Leicester Square Box Office and get really cheap tickets to plays in the area. The lowest quote we got from some booths were from 60 to 50 quid, here we got ours at 31 quid total.

foodmetromanila cirilo noodle bar kare-kare
Legit kare-kare sauce, everything else is not exactly what you’ll see in a kare-kare in the Philippines
foodmetromanila ate Asian food upon arriving in London
First meal experience in London was in this Bento Bab in Commercial Street
foodmetromanila london eggs
Nutrition facts, the packaging, the color, the marking per egg. So different from what we’re used to, ey?

I got to try a low-key Filipino Restaurant near my flat. The place was called Cirilo Noodle Bar along Royal Mint Street (Whitechapel). I originally wanted Sinigang (they have it) but it was too expensive, so just went for the Kare-Kare. You won’t hail it as the best ever, when you eat it here in the Philippines, but there, it was one of the best meals I got to eat in London! The night I dropped by, there was a Filipino looking couple on the counter. I didn’t want to assume they were Filipino, so I was talking to them in English as I ordered and while waiting for my. Then, I think I heard them speak to each other in Tagalog, so I just asked “nakakaintindi po kayo ng Tagalog?” and we had an even more lovelier chat after that. They were about to close so I just bought my food as a take-away. If ever you’re in East London, look for this place!

I got to try Fish and Chips (though it was at a shop near the Tower of London, a tourist trap most likely) and a lot of the sandwiches from Pret and Eat, they were bland. One of the Filipinos who is now working in UK full time took us out during our last weekend, she treated us to an Italian Lunch, it too was bland. Our trip sponsor cooked a Brazilian meat dish for us and some of the people in the office, that was also slightly bland. The generic Chicharon we got for some of the people, they absolutely loved. That was bland for Filipino standards. I bought a slice of Pizza from Za and, you guessed it, just bland. My point is, and I may be stereotyping here, most of the food is bland – okay I guess we can say it’s flavored neutrally (if you don’t want to hurt feelings). I guess that’s why they lose their minds over Indian food, Chinese Food (BTW, we bought Chinese food from a random store because I had to pee, also bland. It was British-Chinese), and now Filipino food.

foodmetromanila unplanned lunch at China Centre Strutton Ground
Chanced upon this restaurant/convenience store (China Centre) by accident. Nothing special
foodmetromanila fish and chips
It’s huge, and bland


Would I want to visit New York and London again? Of course! But I want to do it as a tourist, or maybe still for work, but not the type I have been doing while in those places so far. I would like to try more of the food, explore the area more, do more touristy things.

foodmetromanial james has a palace
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, St. James’s Palace!

London is an absolutely lovely city. Both it and New York are beautiful, in their own different ways. I would say this: London, for the most part, is more laid back than New York in the Financial District. Everything else is almost about the same (well, maybe except what Sports are playing in Pubs/Bars).

And of course, for a week of London time, it’s equivalent to a full year of additional hard work… a full year because I have a travel bond.

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