It’s no secret that we love our Pinoy food. But more often than not, fast food joints and restaurants peddling your favorite kare-kare or adobo face stiff competition from your lola or mom’s dishes. Why would you go out for something that you can have at home?
Kuya J restaurant was one restaurant who braved the challenge: from opening a small hole-in-the-wall in Cebu, the owners decided to open a bigger space and brought the Kuya J concept to Metro Manila. They recently celebrated a milestone and opened their 100th store in just two years after they launched. Not an easy feat when you’re also battling it out with players in the fast food industry who have numerous branches (and fans) in major cities in the country.
Kuya J’s Kare-kare
Winglip Chang, President and Chief Officer of iKitchen, the company behind Kuya J, attributes their success and rapid expansion to serving simple but good home-style Pinoy food. Their take on dining out is centered with the Filipino family in mind, hence the familiar favorites on the Kuya J menu. You’ll find crispy pata, pork sisig, kare-kare, and halo-halo on the menu along with specials such as grilled scallops. Most dishes are priced under P300, while their signature dishes won’t go beyond the P500-mark.
This year, they launched the Ube Halo-Halo Espesyal, a creamier take on the usual Pinoy dessert with milky-smooth ube-flavored shaved ice which does not need a lot of milk. It has all the things that make for a satisfying halo-halo, too: generous servings of caramelized bananas, homemade leche flan, macapuno strips, and langka.
Chang shared, “Kuya J is not an actual person but we believe that most Pinoy families have a “Kuya J” in the family—Kuya Jay, Jesus, Jun Jun, Jericho—it’s a name that will be familiar to most families.” He also admitted that their choice of brand ambassador in actor Jericho Rosales has helped the brand get noticed.
They recently opened their 100th store in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and have stores far north (Tuguegarao) and in the south of the country (Iligan, Lanao del Norte)—proof that Pinoys will always crave for familiar flavors they grew up with.