Japanese chain uses Pinoy ingredients to support food producers during pandemic

JAPANESE food chain Tenya, founded in 1989 by Yoshio Iwashita, has launched a menu called Tenya Lokal in its Philippine franchise that uses local ingredients from local food producers. This is part of the company’s coronavirus response, which aims to help food producers in the country.

“This is our way of giving back to the communities of farmers and fisherfolk who have been our partners since we started out,” said Leopoldo “Chukri” Prieto III, Tenya’s Managing Director in a statement. Tenya arrived to the Philippines in 2015 through the Prietos’ Cavallino, Inc., which is also behind Racks and Rackshack restaurants.

“We hope that in our own way, Tenya is able to help jumpstart the road to recovery for these people. We felt it was important to call attention to the pressing needs of our food producers. With our countrymen’s support, we can assure their livelihood,” Mr. Prieto said.

The company’s coronavirus pandemic response has included donating food to frontliners (even adjusting a Buy One, Share One promo in which for each meal ordered, one sponsored a meal for a medical frontliner).

“It has been our goal to position Tenya as a socially responsible brand,” said Eric Fontillas, Marketing Manager of Tenya in the Philippines during a press conference on July 16. He also mentioned that they partnered with the Make A Wish Foundation two years ago, as well as fed partner communities of Hands On Manila last Christmas.

The items in the Tenya Lokal menu that use local ingredients include donburi (rice bowl with toppings), chicken karaage (breaded and deep-fried), buta (pork) karaage, ebi (shrimp), gyudon (beef bowl), and white fish fry. The shrimps and prawns are sourced from Bohol, and the white fish from Zamboanga. The chicken and pork are sourced from Central Luzon.

Meanwhle, the Ramen Komori with Maki are is made with locally produced noodles and locally milled rice. Bento Box selections also get the local treatment with seafood tempura, buta yakiniku (grilled pork), sukiyaki bento, and chicken teriyaki.

“Now we’re looking at it to be more on a permanent basis,” said Tenya Philippines General Manager Edmundo Ramos, citing the good response from stores when they started the promo earlier this month.

The price points for the items are quite accessible: from P125 to P245. In fact, it was noted that some menu items had been more expensive prior to the switch to local ingredients. “It’s also maybe a way that we would like to raise consciousness about food security,” said Mr. Ramos.

All noble efforts, but when it gets down to it, does doing good taste good? “Definitely. One-hundred percent,” said Mr. Ramos. “I can say that with a straight face. Our prawns, our shrimps, are much better than what you can have in Western countries.”

Tenya branches are located in SM Megamall, Market! Market!, SM Southmall, ASEANA City, Festival Mall, Paseo de Magallanes, Tiendesitas, Ayala Malls Circuit, and Timog Avenue. — JLG