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LAKENHEATH — Ruwela Samonte’s restaurant may be in an English village, but she earned her success by providing American-style service.

“If people say they don’t want onions, we take the onions off. If people say they don’t want cucumber, we take out the cucumber,” Samonte said on a recent weekday afternoon.

“That is why people come to eat here. I make sure we have great customer service.”

Her restaurant, which serves home-cooked Philippine fare and is aptly named Filipiniana, is one of the most popular eateries around the American military community in Suffolk.

Filipiniana may be a bit out of place in East Anglia, where ethnic food is normally limited to Thai or Turkish. But Filipiniana’s dishes combining the flavors of Japanese, Spanish and Malay food and Samonte’s commitment to customer satisfaction have won the eatery a loyal following.

“You can taste the noodles from Japan, or the barbecue of Hawaii or the Spanish rice,” Samonte said. “[The Philippines] is like a melting pot because it has been colonized by so many countries, and the food is the same way.”

Samonte would know. She and her husband, a retired Air Force master sergeant, hail from the southeast Asian island nation.

Samonte said she reflects her country’s love of food.

“I love to cook, and you can taste it. Cooking is my passion,” she said. “When I am not cooking here, I cook at the golf course on base. There, too, I do the steaks just how people want them.”

But her first love is her restaurant, the 30-seat eatery on the east end of Lakenheath High Street.

Her most popular dishes — chicken teriyaki and spicy beef — normally are cooked mild, but she can kick up the spice for those who like it hot. It’s that constant attention to the customer that keeps Filipiniana an American favorite.

“I would say more than 80 percent of our customers are Americans,” Samonte said. “We deliver on base, we deliver to the hospital. We do takeout. Or you can come in and eat with us.”

To see previous After Hours reviews, go to stripes.com/afterhours

Filipiniana

Location: East end of Lakenheath High Street.

Drinks: Bottled beer and wine by the bottle.

Food: Home-cooked Philippine grub.

Hours: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. for lunch, 5 – 9 p.m. for dinner. Closed Sunday.

Clientele: From hungry single airmen to families.

Entertainment: Karaoke available by reservation.

Dress: Casual.


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