Feb. 29, 2012 - Issue #854: Gobal Visions
1519 Lakewood Rd
The first thing that strikes me when I enter Lola Emma's to meet a friend for lunch is the fun décor: a small stage with a drum set stands near the entrance; large photographs of scenes from the Philippines grace the far wall; and large, picnic-style tables and benches stand in the middle, ready to seat larger groups.
A server comes to the table for the drink order, and I choose a Sago't Gulaman ($3.25). It's a sweet beverage with small sago pearls and jelly bits inside, and tastes slightly of caramelized sugar. In the Philippines, street vendors often sell the gently flavoured drink. Thirst quenched, my dining companion and I decide on dishes.
For an appetizer, I order the crispy spinach ($5.25), and select the bicol express ($13.99) for my main dish. It contains pork strips, coconut milk, onion, garlic and chilis. I also ask for an order of steamed rice ($1.50). By this time, my Sago't Gulaman is almost gone.
The appetizers arrive quickly and we dive in. As someone who harbours an obsession with spinach, and is not ashamed to discuss it publicly, I'm excited to try this green goodness battered and deep-fried. Oh, and crispy.
And oh, do I like it. The crispiness! The sweet spinach! The creamy dipping sauce! The obsession with spinach grows with this new find.
The bicol express, which arrives quickly, too, contains a few other obsession-worthy ingredients: onion and garlic (I may not be Filipino, but I am Ukrainian), and coconut milk. I take a bunch on my plate over the rice, and away I go.
The sauce has a nice zing to it—that garlic sure knows how to speak up. Unfortunately, the sauce is a little on the salty side. What's left of my Sago't Gulaman steps in, as does my water glass. Numerous times.
The service, which had been swift and efficient up to this point, also changes for the worse. Nobody comes around while we are eating to see how we are doing or if we want anything else. We request packages to take our leftovers home, which we do receive; however, we then sit for a long time, wondering if someone will come to take our dessert order and clear the table. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, we're still sitting there, wondering. My initial positive impression of the restaurant declines slightly.
Finally, we approach the counter at the back to order desserts and coffee. We both order the leche flan ($2.50), and I get a coffee ($1.75). These arrive at our table very quickly.
Made of custard, and covered with a caramel drizzle, the leche flan is a soft and creamy way to end the meal. The coffee, on the other hand, surprises me. Instead of coming with a small jug of cream, it comes with powdered whitener on the side. It's less than impressive, as is the coffee itself, even after
I've added the whitener. But at least I like the flan.
Lola Emma's was an enjoyable experience overall, but I don't anticipate starting an obsession with coffee whitener in the future. vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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