What used to be an eating style in the military has become an overseas Filipino worker’s concept for his restaurant named, ‘The Filipino Kitchen Restaurant’ (TFKR) in United Arab Emirates (UAE) which is the biggest come-on.
Joseph Ronald Calara, a 31-year-old owner of the restaurant said their real concept was a fast casual restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine with chicken inasal, an authentic Bacolod specialty, as their main dish plus a concoction of inihaw (grilled) menus.
“After 10 months of operation we decided to add an exciting twist on our menu which is the Boodle Fight,” he said.
Calara said Boodle Fight is not new anymore to Filipinos, but there are only few who does it even as he added that it is actually the “fun” that goes within the activity that matters most to the customers.
Boodle fight is a military style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of the banana leaves. Viands and rice which are ready to eat using your bare hands and jugs of water are prepared on the side primarily to use in washing hands before the “eating combat” begins. With the signal to start the boodle fight, everyone aims for his or her position.
The cost of dishes in the TFKR’s Boodle Fight range from Dh168 (P2,009.00), which is good for four to six people, to Dh495 (P5,919.00), good for 12-15 people. Calara said the biggest challenge he experienced in the food industry is how to build his restaurant’s name since there are already a lot of Filipino restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
“It took us almost six months or maybe more before we can say that we are starting to get known,” he said further revealing he does not regret establishing his first business.TFKR’s bestseller, the “chicken inasal,” is served with unlimited rice, atchara (pickled green papaya), and soup all for only DH19 or P227.00.
“Napili ko ang restaurant dahil parami nang parami din naman ang mga Pinoy dito sa UAE. At alam naman natin na ang mga Pinoy ay mahihilig kumain (I chose restaurant as business because there are many Filipinos here in UAE and we know for a fact that Filipinos love to eat),” Calara said even as he revealed that he and his wife are also fond of dining out and they both have passion for cooking.
The TFKR was established on October 21, 2012 through the shared concept of Calara’s friend and cousin. His partner, on the other hand, is a Saudi Arabian national.
“Nag-isip kami nun ng konsepto na papatok sa mga Pilipino (We thought of a particular concept that will become a sure-hit among Filipinos),” Calara said.
“Dahil ang inasal ang sumisikat sa Pilipinas nung mga panahon na yun, ginawa naming pangunahing produkto ang ‘chicken inasal (That time roasted chicken was very popular in the Philippines, so we decided to offer it as our main product).”
To date, the restaurant has grown in terms of customer base. About 85% of their customers, according to Calara, are Filipinos while 15% comes from different races, a great deal of which are Americans and British.
“There would be queues outside, waiting almost every night,” he said.