IHOP adds tapa, tocino to PH menu

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 13 2014 12:23 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2014 06:13 PM

Beef Tapa. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – The US-based restaurant chain IHOP goes beyond pancakes and waffles as it serves the omnipresent silog (garlic rice and fried egg served with a viand) dishes to its customers in the Philippines.

With the help of local suppliers, IHOP Philippines was able to add five Filipino breakfast items to its already extensive menu.

Starting Monday, March 17, customers can expect to see silog combined with beef tapa, pork tocino, chicken tocino, pork longganisa and chicken longganisa in IHOP’s three branches in the country – at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, UP Town Center in Quezon City, and SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Manuel Zubiri, vice-chairman of Global Restaurant Concepts Inc., said it took them six months to have the dishes approved by IHOP’s headquarters in the US.

“We’re serving Filipino breakfast food because that’s what they (customers) have been clamoring for the past year,” Zubiri told ABS-CBNnews.com during the launch of the new dishes on Wednesday. “They want to have rice for their kids instead of pancakes and waffles for a change, so we came up with five dishes.”

Pork Tocino. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“They (IHOP in the US) usually stick to the original menu. But we wanted to be flexible so we fought for six months for these to be added to the menu,” he added. “We were given the go signal by the US. They came here just to try the dishes and they loved it. Hopefully, we could bring it to them in the future.”

Zubiri shared that they initially had a list of over 12 dishes for their all-Filipino breakfast menu, but it was eventually narrowed down to “the best five.”

“We tried Filipino breakfast food but we came out with these five… It’s based on quality, texture, consistency, taste, everything. We just wanted the best,” he said.

Big, toned down

IHOP’s Filipino breakfast offerings were consistent with the restaurant’s large portions. The Savory Pork Longganisa (P375), for instance, had two thick, juicy sausages served with a large cup of garlic rice and a choice between a large dollop of scrambled eggs or two sunny side ups.

Pork Longganisa. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

The Lean Chicken Sausage (P295) comes with four smaller pieces of longganisa, while the tapa and tocino offerings occupy a large space on the plate.

Taste-wise, IHOP’s silog dishes were unsurprisingly toned down, with the flavors not as big and bold as the tapa, tocino and longganisa served in most Filipino homes.

Expect foreigners, expats and children to rave about these dishes more than the locals. Still, these are worth a try, particularly the pork longganisa with its sweet and savory notes.

New desserts

Aside from the Filipino breakfast dishes, IHOP also added some parfaits targeted mainly at children and kids at heart as summer season starts.

The desserts are co-created with Nestle Ice Cream and use unlikely ingredients such as hash brown bits and strips of bacon.

Childhood Memories (P195), for instance, includes vanilla ice cream layered with blueberry and strawberry syrups and topped with hash brown and cheesecake bits.

A good way to end the meal is the Chocolate Decadence (P245), which has chocolate ice cream with IHOP’s butter pecan syrup, dark and white chocolate chips and strips of maple candied bacon.

For those who want to be on the “safe” side, IHOP also offers the Mixed Berry Parfait (P245) or chocolate ice cream with strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and oatmeal streusel; and the Peaches and Cream Parfait (P195) with vanilla and mango ice cream, peaches and IHOP’s granola.

Next target: Expressways

Zubiri said IHOP will embark on an aggressive expansion this year as they target five to six branches before 2014 ends.

“Our next locations include Filinvest in Alabang, Century City Mall in Makati, and Gateway mall,” he said.

He said the US-based chain, which marked its first year in the Philippines last month, is also targeting gasoline stations along expressways.

“We’ll target gas stations as well. There’s a huge market for that,” he said. “We plan to expand to 20 stores in around five years. But I think we can do more with our plans and the acceptance of the market.”