Healthy options at Kitaro

- Estela Banzon-De La Paz () - September 11, 2006 - 12:00am
Eating healthy need not be expensive. Such is the goal and vision of one of the country’s leading Japanese casual dining restaurants – Kitaro.

"We wanted to give Filipinos healthy and affordable Japanese food. Before, eating in a Japanese restaurant was very expensive," Grace Sycip-ChuaChiaco, CEO of Kitaro Foods Corp said.

Kitaro has maintained this vision for the past seven years and apparently has become the reason for its continued success. With 45 branches nationwide, ChuaChiaco said Kitaro is expanding and is now offering franchises for those who have the same vision as they have. For P4.5 million to P5.5 million depending on the location and size of the place, those interested can put up a Kitaro outlet and will not have to worry about all the details of putting up and managing a restaurant.

Sister and business partner, Addie Sycip-Cukingnan, Kitaro president said that being both married to doctors, they became aware of the rising incidence of coronary heart disease among Filipinos due to a bad diet in the 90s.

"We wanted to offer a better alternative than the hamburgers and since Japanese food is considered healthy, we set up a small sushi outlet in Katipunan Road in 1999. At first, it was just for sushi take-out, but then customers wanted to eat in the place and so we added a table or two. Eventually, we were already offering a line of hot and cold dishes, " Cukingnan said.

Unlike other restaurants offering affordable Japanese food but whose taste falls flat of the real Japanese cooking, Kitaro has been able to maintain a taste that is authentically Japanese.

ChuaChiaco said much of this can be attributed to their putting up of a central commissary which enables them to buy the expensive ingredients needed in Japanese cooking at more competitive prices.

Aside from the central commissary, ChuaChiaco said Kitaro has professionalized through the years with the setting up of different departments such as product development, purchasing, quality assessment, etc.

As such, Kitaro has been able to offer affordable Japanese meals like "tofu steku rice" which offers two pieces of bread tofu with vegetable and mushroom sauce and steamed rice (definitely a healthy meal!), gyoza fried rice and omu beef rice for only P98. Other rice toppings are priced from P131 to P314. Bento boxes range from P115 to P130.

ChuaChiaco said they still have their original sushi take-outs for those who love their sushis and makis. Aside from the usual favorites of California maki, she said they have developed new bestsellers like salmon kawa and tuna crunchy maki.

ChuaChiaco said hopefully with all these affordable meals that Kitaro is offering, Filipinos can get to eat healthier but definitely delicious Japanese food anytime they want.
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