MANILA, Philippines – For Manila’s rabid foodies, 2019 was definitely a year for food – especially for foreign food flown to our very own shores, that is.
Several international food chains made their highly-anticipated way to the Philippines this year – from famous burger joints, to cookie cafes, to fried chicken restos – hoping to stir the hungry Pinoy’s pot.
And, well… they did.
Long lines of stubbornly patient customers snaked around almost every establishment even before its official opening to the public; some lines even lasting weeks after the restaurant’s launch.
What can we say? Filipinos love their hype, and they love their food. Here are some of 2019’s most memorable international resto arrivals!
New York City’s star burger joint Shake Shack opened in Central Square, Bonifacio Global City on May 10, 2019. Fun fact: it was actually their first ever branch in Southeast Asia. (READ: First impressions, photos, prices: Shake Shack in Manila)
Both their BGC and SM Megamall branch (which opened on December 12) saw crazy long lines upon opening, everyone itching to get their hands on a cheesy ShackBurger or a crispy ‘Shroom.
Aside from serving their signature crinkle-cut fries and frozen custard shakes, Shake Shack surprised their Philippine diners with Manila-exclusive treats, such as their ube shake, calamansi limeade, and their local Concretes.
Some raved, some nay-ed, some were in shake shock after seeing its steep prices – but nevertheless, the lines remained.
Filipinos love their fried chicken, no doubt, so when Louisiana’s famous fried chicken made a Manila comeback on May 16, 2019, the Popeyes-loving crowd went wild. (READ: Menu, prices: Popeyes opens in Metro Manila)
Although hardly deprived of good fried chicken in this country, people still lined up for hours to enjoy Popeyes with a variety of sides – biscuits, cajun fries, cajun rice, mashed potato, and even Pinoy spaghetti.
Everything at very competitive fast food prices, Popeyes’ menu continues to make a hit with the fast food, budget-conscious crowd – and they continue to pop up around the metro. (READ: First impressions, photos: Popeyes is now in Metro Manila, and we’re living for it)
Sweet tooths also had their fair share of hype over Ben’s Cookies, England’s freshly-baked, hand-sized cookie brand, which opened in The Podium on July 17, 2019. (READ: Menu, prices: Ben’s Cookies opens in Manila)
Lines of customers filled up their signature red take-out boxes with any of Ben’s 14 chunky cookie flavors – from dark chocolate chunk, orange milk chocolate, macadamia and white chocolate, to double chocolate and nut.
It was either a meh or a yeh for Ben’s – some praised it for its size, chunkiness, and dough-y consistency, while others found it a tad overrated, compared to some of our local choices. Either way… still, lines.
It was a good year for the cookie-crazed, because Famous Amos, the Los Angeles cookie brand founded by Willy Amos in 1975, returned to the Philippines in July 2019, this time as a full-blown cafe. (READ: Menu, prices: Famous Amos is back in Manila)
In the mood for their distinctly crunchy, little cookies? Famous Amos’ branches in S Maison, The Podium, and SM North EDSA serve them freshly-baked, alongside glasses of cold milk and cups of hot coffee.
Japan’s fluffy souffle pancakes made its way to Ayala Malls Manila Bay, brought to us by Hong Kong cafe am.pm, which opened its first Manila branch in October 2019. (READ: LOOK: Japanese souffle pancakes from Hong Kong cafe am.pm are in Manila)
Jiggly and sweet, these fluffy, photogenic guys are made from Japanese flour, fresh eggs, and cream, blow-torched and caramelized on the spot. Flavors to expect? Creme brulee, tiramisu, shizouka matcha, and pearl milk tea.
It’s not like we needed any more milk tea in this country… yet here we are, warmly welcoming more and more new milk tea brands into our hometown. (READ: LOOK: Bangkok’s Brown Cafe is in Manila for all your milk tea needs)
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Thailand’s Brown Cafe and their special low-calorie collagen-infused bubbles arrived in September 2019 at Serendra, Taguig City. It’s got almost everything you’d expect from a milk tea shop – fresh milk lattes, brown sugar syrup shakes, cheese-topped macchiatos, slurpies, and of course, Thai milk tea.
Many prayed for orange chicken, and praise be – Panda Express answered.
American-Chinese fast food Chain Panda Express opened its doors to the SM Megamall public on December 2019 and has seen lines of salivating customers since. (READ: First impressions, photos, prices: Panda Express in Manila)
Sorry, no Honey Walnut Shrimp, folks – but hey, the Original Orange Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken seem to be enough to curb Filipino’s cravings for the brand – with sulit servings to match.
Here for the AM-allergic crowd, Hong Kong brunch cafe Elephant Grounds stomped its way to Bonifacio Global City on June 2019 with a new Asian-inspired menu tweaked for the Filipino appetite. (READ: First impressions, prices: Hong Kong’s Elephant Grounds in Metro Manila)
With IG-friendly interiors, comfortable seating, and a bar just for freshly-brewed coffee, ice cream, and cookies, EG attracted lines of young professionals, friends, and titas of manila looking to spend the early hours of their day with quality food and coffee – although for a slightly higher price tag. – Rappler.com