The Japanese are known for the passion and artistry they display in preparing their food, even with such an un-Japanese dish as a burger. That passion can easily translate to those who partake of such a meal.
That was the case with business partners Patrick Pesengco and Herwin See, who were regular customers of Sango! The Burger Master, a restaurant in Makati City founded by Japanese expatriates in March 2006. The partners would get their dailyfixes of Sango’s bestsellers, Master Burger and the Yakiniku Rice Burger.
“We really liked the food,” says Pesengco, whose passion for the burgers eventually drove him and See into the restaurant business—they became Sango’s new owners.
How? Their patronage earned them the faith of the Japanese owners, who entrusted the partners with their brand in 2008 when they moved back to their country. Since then, the partners, who also run Philippine Vending Corp., have increased Sango’s loyal following, anchored on the burgers prepared with Japanese recipes.
Seeing “the passion Japanese have for their food and in everything they do” first-hand, Pesengco and See have made sure to maintain their products’ quality, importing ingredients from Japan to keep that authentic Sango taste.
Not wanting to mess up a winning formula, the partners opted to keep the three original outlets previously run by Sango’s Japanese owners, at the Alabang South Supermarket, and Creekside Mall in Makati.
They have also expand slowly, opening their fourth outlet at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall in 2009. Pesengco admits the public still needs a bit of education on Japanese cuisine, and their burgers in particular. He says: “People might associate tempura and tonkatsu, for example, as having originated from Japan, but really, they originated from the West, and just tweaked by the Japanese. So are Japanese burgers. They are part of mainstream Japan today,” he says.
The concept, Pesengco admits, is difficult to absorb, “given the intricacy [of Japanese food] and the many fresh and natural ingredients that are all done from scratch. Maintaining the right portions of the ingredients’ servings is needed to maintain the Japanese concept that every aspect of life is balance.” The way Patrick Pesengco says it, the passion for Japanese burgers is well within him.