Imagine eating Asian-style fare, just like what is served in Singapore's food courts, in a typical fast food environment.
That's the feeling I got upon my first visit at Yummy Roast, the newest addition to the Philippines' growing list of Singapore influenced food chains. It's a result of a partnership between Richie Yang of Yum Roast International Inc. (the Filipino company that runs Super Bowl of China, Big Buddha and Chili's) and Cary Gee of The Asian Kitchen restaurants in Singapore.
Yummy Roast looks and feels like the usual fast food chain, complete with yellow plastic chairs and a counter where all the menu items are displayed. It also has "value meals" and unlimited rice offerings, as seen in most quick service restaurants here in the country.
The difference, however, lies in the food.
The restaurant's signature dish is chicken that tastes like a cross between Chinese-style roasted duck and pigeon. It is marinated in a "secret recipe" before roasting, Gee said, making the skin tight and the meat sweet and juicy.
The chicken is served with garlic vinegar and either plain or Yummy Rice, which is infused with lemongrass and "chicken essence," similar to Singapore's Hainanese rice.
I told Gee that the garlic vinegar doesn't seem to go well with the sweet chicken, which is better off eaten on its own. He responded by saying that they are planning to come up with different sauces and chicken variants in the future as it continues to adjust to the Filipino palate.
"We always want to adjust to different cultures. For example, we had the unlimited rice concept since it's very popular here in the Philippines, although not so popular in Singapore," Gee explained.
He continued, "We're hoping to attract a wide range of Filipinos, particularly the masses."
Gee's dream may not be a long shot after all, given the prices of Yummy Roast's menu items. A chicken meal costs as low as P55, while the unlimited rice option is priced at P98 (and P118 for Yummy Rice).
For those who don't like chicken, Yummy Roast is offering the pork belly and pork asado rice meals at the same prices. Although slightly dry, the 2 dishes have the familiar taste of traditional Chinese cuisine.
During the launch, these were served in bigger portions.
The restaurant's version of spaghetti is noodles with either minced meat or spicy Zhajiang sauce while its "hamburger" is the pork belly pan de pao (pork belly and cucumber slices in a firm cuapao that resembles the Filipino favorite pan de sal). Both items cost P50 per order.
To cap off the meal, Yummy Roast serves a drink that has the flavors of longan (a cousin of the lychee fruit) and gulaman. The restaurant also has softdrinks, iced tea and black jelly.
"The pricing is very competitive. You can enjoy a good meal every day," said Yang.
Yummy Roast is set to open its doors to the public on Monday, March 21. More branches will be put up at SM Sta. Rosa, SM Bicutan, Vito Cruz and SM Manila in the coming months.
The restaurant may be a relatively new concept, but it still has a lot of room for improvement, which I believe should be done as soon as possible so it can effectively capture the Filipino palate.
Not the best fast food joint I've been to, but the chicken is still worth a try.
Citywalk 2, Eastwood City, Libis
Quezon City, Philippines
KEIX'S NOTE: This is a condensed version of my article, Let's talk fast food, which first appeared on abs-cbnNEWS.com. (Click here to view the article.)