Saigosan sets its sights on teens

The new Red Crab Group restaurant targets the influential age group that has been cooped up over the pandemic

By Joseph L. Garcia, Reporter

THE RED Crab Group is catering to teens with a Japanese teaser menu for its new restaurant, Saigosan.

Late last year, during a tasting at the restaurant, BusinessWorld saw a lot of neon and a lot of Tokyo-inspired decor, paired with a relatively simple menu sure to liven up the tastebuds of families. The restaurant itself was named after famed samurai Saigo Takamori.

Red Crab President Raymund Magdaluyo brought his own sons there. He asked one, “What else can Papa do?” The reply: “It’s already perfect.”

Among The Red Crab Group’s other ventures are Seafood Island, Crustasia Asian Seafood Market, and Clawdaddy’s.

Since Mr. Magdaluyo is also Managing Partner of Wolfgang’s in the Philippines, there are some good meats to be had, with prices ranging from P300 to P1,568. We had the Wagyu Macaroni and Wagyu Steak Misono, which had excellent beef, while the Buta Kakuni Ramen’s pork was outstanding. A Truffle Wagyu Steak Macaroni’s meat component also stood out despite the heavy use of cheese: clock this up to the fact that this tiny restaurant (just about 105 sqm) boasts of the same suppliers as Mr. Magdaluyo’s more ambitious ventures. Don’t forget that the Executive Chef happens to be Nobu New York-trained Chris Oronce (the same as Wolfgang’s).

“What do they want to eat? Rice bowls. Burgers. Chicken wings. So that’s what we have,” said Mr. Magdaluyo about the teens he wants his restaurant to attract.

The location of Saigosan is strategic: it’s near Uptown Mall’s cinema and toy stores. Apparently, this restaurant opened via a special request by Megaworld, who chose them to take up the oddly-shaped space. “They wanted us to develop this particular area for families, specifically kids,” he said. “We can’t serve food that’s too fancy.”

“It’s the first time we’re doing something specifically for teens, and their parents,” he continued. “Hindi lang iyong sabit lang sila (not a kind of place where the kids just tag along) — they (usually) eat where their parents want to eat.”

“You’re talking to a crowd — the kids — who have been locked for three years. They’re excited to go out.”

In catering to teens, Mr. Magdaluyo notes down several trends in the dining industry, which he gleaned as an officer of Resto PH (Restaurant Owners of the Philippines), a loose association of restaurant operators. For example, he noted that younger age groups are now spending more at restaurants: for example, over at luxury steakhouse Wolfgang’s, bigger checks are being paid for by 23-year-olds, instead of the usual 28-and-up crowd. “Two years out of college, they’re already spending,” he noted in English and Filipino. “This particular age group, 13 and up, is becoming more and more influential, because of their access to information.”

For this year, Mr. Magdaluyo plans to open more Red Crab restaurants, bring Crustasia outside Metro Manila (and transform it to a pan-Asian place), as well as opening the country’s fourth Wolfgang’s in City of Dreams.

Saigosan is located at the 3rd Floor of Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City. It is open daily during mall hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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