Lolo and Lola Filipino restaurant opens in Watson

Jil Hogan
Lolo and Lola's atsara, with pickled papaya and vegetables
Lolo and Lola's atsara, with pickled papaya and vegetables Photo: Rohan Thomson

Good news for fans of Filipino eatery Lolo and Lola by Waterhouse Bakers, which previously operated out of a shipping container at Westside Acton Village.

Owners Kim Cudia, Jay Prieto and Cristina Uy are reopening – this time at a bricks and mortar restaurant at Watson shops from July 13.

The business started two years ago at the second birthday party of Kim and Jay's daughter. Kim cooked all of the food, including ensaymadas, traditional Filipino sweet buns topped with butter cream and grated cheddar cheese.

Owners Christina Uy, Jay Prieto, and Kim Cudia in the new Lolo and Lola at Watson
Owners Christina Uy, Jay Prieto, and Kim Cudia in the new Lolo and Lola at Watson Photo: Rohan Thomson

"One of our friends said, 'this is really good, you wouldn't be able to find anything like this here in Canberra - do you mind if I order four boxes of ensaymadas because my nephew's birthday is coming up two weeks from now?'" says Kim.

From there, word spread, orders increased, and Kim and Jay opened their own business, Waterhouse Bakers, offering home delivery. When they couldn't keep up with the deliveries, they opened a stall at the weekend markets. 

Then with the opening of Westside, they secured a shipping container, opening Lolo and Lola by Waterhouse Bakers.

The ensaymada - soft buns with buttercream and cheese - which led to the start of the business.
The ensaymada - soft buns with buttercream and cheese - which led to the start of the business. Photo: Rohan Thomson

They've taken a well-earned break since Westside closed, and have now taken over the space that was previously Cherryripe Brasserie at Watson Shops. The new restaurant is simply called Lolo and Lola, meaning is Grandma and Grandpa in Filipino - a nod to their relatives who first taught them to cook.

The passionate trio first came to Australia from Manila in 2004 to do their apprenticeship at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, then The Grace Hotel in Sydney.

They all moved back to Manila, and then came back to Australia in 2008 to Western Australia, where Jay was head chef at Casellas Wine Tapas and Grill. Cristina went on to work as the pastry chef at Sepia.

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Kim and Jay moved to Canberra after having their daughter, and convinced Cristina to move down too and work with them.

Opening in early July, Lolo and Lola will have a rotating menu that changes monthly, plus daily specials. You can expect traditional share plates of succulent meat dishes and fresh salads, like adobo and kare-kare, using lots of chilli and pungent aromatics.

"There's not much of a difference, the only real difference is our location," says Kim.

Picture-perfect dessert, ginataang halo-halo.
Picture-perfect dessert, ginataang halo-halo. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"But it's the same honest Filipino food, same flavours, same hospitality, they're going to be seeing the same smiles - basically all the same." 

Desserts include the picture perfect ginataang halo-halo – it's a warm, purple dessert with a mixture of oriental sweets and is Instagram heaven.

A glass cabinet next to the front counter will display their Filipino baked treats – including the (which are a bizarre combination that works surprisingly well) and their famous purple yam cake – which are available for takeaway or eating in.

The restaurant isn't currently licensed, although there are plans for that in the future. For now, all of the drinks are Filipino and made in house, like the the sago't guluman, a traditional drink made of caramelised palm sugar, tapioca pearls and jelly, which tastes like a rainbow Paddle Pop.

There's also a specially roasted Filipino single origin brewed coffee, or the rich hot chocolate which is thickened with coconut milk and a similar in consistency to an Italian hot chocolate.

Open lunch and dinner Thursday to Saturday, and lunch only on Sunday.

3 Watson Place, Watson, loloandlola.com.au