Many unique characteristics define the Filipino’s eating habits, with rice consumption ranking high on the list.
Fully aware of this, being rice lovers themselves, the Filipino owners of the IHOP franchise, Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. (GRCI), saw the need to include rice dishes in the very Western menu.
IHOP, by the way, stands for International House of Pancakes, and presently has 1,000 stores worldwide. The inclusion of local rice meals is a first for the global brand.
“The thing with Asians is you cannot take away rice from them. And through time, we saw at IHOP how Filipinos clamored for rice dishes. Rice is really close to Filipinos’ hearts,” said Griffith Go, GRCI’s chief finance officer, in an interview with The Manila Times.
Go along with other GRCI officials launched IHOP Restaurants Philippines’ new offerings at a media launch on March 12 at the SM Mall of Asia branch.
Giving in to the demands of their beloved customers, GRCI began thinking of Filipino favorites, and settled on the traditional breakfast “silog” dishes. Silog, or singangag at ilog, is paired with main fares like tapa, longanisa and tocino, among others.
The group realized, however, that the inclusion of these simple silog dishes in an IHOP menu was not an easy task. They had to go on a stringent process over four months that involved the conceptualization, production and presentation of the Filipino meals to the main IHOP office in the United States.
Go explained that the American IHOP executives had to approve everything—from the ingredients and recipe, down to how the meal is cooked and presented. And of course, there is the very vital factor of taste.
Thankfully, Go reported, “They loved it! They thought it was a little bit sweet but ruled out it’s just the Filipino taste.”
Since March 17, IHOP restaurants in the Philippines have been offering the IHOP approved Filipino breakfast menu of Savory Pork Longganisa, Breakfast Beef Tapa, Classic Chicken or Pork Tocino, and Lean Chicken Sausage, which all come with servings of sinangag (garlicky but not too salty), and eggs (either sunny-side up or scrambled).
“Take note that are our eggs are special because they’re the only ingredients [in our kitchens]imported from US,” Go added.
Despite the Filipino additions, Go still hopes that diners will remember that IHOP is first and foremost known for its signature pancakes, so much so that they offer Buttermilk Pancakes, Stuffed French Toast or Brioche French Toast as an add-on to the silogs with a 50-percent discount.
According to Leah Amagsila, GRCI senior operations director, the special Filipino breakfast dishes are currently included in the IHOP menu as an inset for a limited time, but hopes they will be permanently added in the next menu update.
Go as the chief finance officer also discussed GRCI’s upcoming plans to expand IHOP in the Philippines, following its first anniversary on February 15.
“We think that among GRCI’s food brands, IHOP has the most potential not only in Metro Manila. I believe we can penetrate outside Luzon especially Cebu [Visayas] or Davao [Mindanao],” he said.
IHOP currently has three branches in Metro Manila, namely SM MOA, UP Town Center in Quezon City, and in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Two new stores are set to open this summer in Filinvest, Alabang and Century City Mall, Makati City.
“We hope to open eight to nine IHOP branches in the next two years,” Go further revealed.
As the IHOP menu expands, Go and the rest of his partners in GRCI, cannot be happier that IHOP has won the hearts—and stomachs—of food loving Filipinos.
For more information, check the official Facebook page of IHOP Philippines at www.facebook.com/IHOPPhilippines.