Tapa King is taking the UAE by storm with its casual dining

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Published: Tue 14 Mar 2023, 11:00 AM

Situated in the heart of Dubai’s upmarket Deira district, Landmark Hotel Rigga has opened its doors to a rising fast-casual restaurant chain dedicated to classic Filipino cuisines with a homely twist: Tapa King. 36 years after starting out as a 'hole-in-the-wall' food stall, the Filipino chain has opened another outlet in the UAE — its fifth in the country and 42nd worldwide.

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The casual dining space opened to much fanfare on February 9, alongside Landmark Zenath Group (LMZ), a leading UAE based business group franchising the restaurant.

Deen Sadiq, group director at Landmark Zenath, said the group was happy to franchise Tapa King in the UAE because only a few, if any, did casual Filipino cuisine as incredibly as Tapa King.

“There were a few brands from the Philippines, but they were still catering to fast food and not authentic Filipino food — something that you can have in the morning, lunch, and dinner. So we did our research, and the word which came from everybody's mouth was Tapa King," Sadiq said.

The spanking new casual dining restaurant, nestled in the Landmark Hotel’s lobby area, is a beautiful space enveloped by a warm red hue, a rich shade of inviting brown, and the comforting aroma of authentic Filipino cuisine. It is visible from outside the hotel, beckoning food lovers traversing the bustling streets of the urban Al Rigga area.

Melodina Isaguirre, COO at Tapa King said that the restaurant was intentionally designed to thrill patrons with the warm and familiar ambiance of home. “We have a new look and feel for this Tapa King restaurant because we wanted people to feel that they are home away from home."

Authentic Pinoy Grill Classics

Tapa King Landmark Hotel Rigga is the place to be for fans of Filipino cuisine and foodies alike. While other Tapa King branches in the country serve classic Filipino dishes, the Al Rigga restaurant stands out with a new category of renowned Pinoy grill classics, including:

Chicken Inasal: a roasted chicken dish from Bacolod that is marinated in a unique blend of spices and then grilled to perfection.

Classic Pinoy chicken barbeque: a Filipino fan favourite, the succulent chicken is coated in a sweet, tangy sauce and barbecued until tender and juicy.

Inihaw na Manok (barbecued chicken on a skewer): a backyard staple and Filipino street food delight, this grilled chicken dish can be served with rice or dipping sauce.

Kaldereta: a savoury goat meat stew made with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, olives, and a rich tomato-based sauce.

Inihaw na Bangus: Grilled Bangus or milkfish is a must-try for fish lovers. It’s a unique and flavourful Filipino alternative to more common seafood options.

From Food Stall to Global Brand

Tapa King’s penchant for quality home-style meals dates back to its humble beginning as a 'hole in the wall' food business on Gallardo street in the metro Makati City in June 1987. It made quick and affordable meals for office workers heading to or leaving work.

Back then, even the hustle and bustle of rush hours didn’t stop Tapa King from ensuring its dishes, particularly its signature tapa marinated meat dish, exuded the simple yet flavourful goodness of home-cooked meals.

Before long, the fast-casual restaurant began food deliveries across Makati City and neighbouring areas, a business model that fast-tracked its rise in the Philippines. Today, Tapa King has a presence in three countries — 42 branches across the Philippines, Singapore, and the UAE — and is still expanding.

Bringing Homely Filipino Cuisine Overseas

The expansion, Tapa King insists, is a well-calculated effort to further its quest to mainstream Filipino cuisine the world over and bring a slice of home to Filipinos working overseas. The UAE has a heavy concentration of nearly 700,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), 450,000 of whom live in Dubai, where Tapa King has four outlets.

The number has continued to grow, yet non-fast-food Filipino restaurants remain scarce, spurring Landmark Zenith Group into driving Tapa King’s growth in the middle eastern nation.

“We felt that the Filipino population was growing — growing not only in numbers but also in terms of their spending habits, and we felt that there was a lack of famous Filipino restaurants and brands in the UAE for the last 10-12 years,” Sadiq added.

Landmark Zenath Group is franchising Tapa King’s other four locations in the UAE: a restaurant in the Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi and three Dubai outlets in Al Ghurair Centre, BurJuman, and Ibn Battuta Mall.

The Landmark Hotel Rigga location stands out from the other branches, as it is the first to be outfitted for patrons looking to do more than just dining. It has two function rooms that can accommodate over 90 people, perfect for handaan and other social events.

In the days since its opening, Tapa King Landmark Hotel Rigga has garnered stellar reviews online, with one customer writing: “Everything about this restaurant was great. The place was clean and smelled good. The staff was very nice. The cashier was awesome, the staff also worked as a team in bringing and cleaning up the food. The food was fresh and awesome… Great atmosphere with really nice people. I recommend.”

Check out Tapa king at Landmark Rigga, Al Muraqabbat.

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