Since 2006, the inihaw place “Tinuhog ni Benny” has grown from humble beginnings by serving affordable and delicious Filipino food for over 15 years. After overcoming and adapting to the pandemic, the neighborhood eatery has moved to a bigger home in Taft.
Mr. Benito “Benny” Castronero started the inihaw and car wash joint in 2006. The concept then was simple: serve good and cheap “lutong bahay.” But after seeing what his competitors had to offer, he pursued to serve something different; thus, their barbecue place was born. Located in Dagonoy Street near Sinangag Express and Bok Chicken, its seemingly modest and unassuming orange facade contains all kinds of smokey magic inside—serving not only the typical “lutong bahay” but a variety of juicy grilled meats and affordable rice meals.
Reinventing and relocating
The food and service industry was one of the industries that were forced to undergo a dynamic change during the pandemic. Tinuhog ni Benny isn’t a stranger to the hardships that transpired during COVID-19. With the fear of closing, plummeting numbers of customers, price increase, and problems with suppliers, Mr. Castronero had to find ways to keep his business afloat. It was online food partners that became his saving grace.
As people missed his food and the rise of online delivery platforms came, GrabFood and Foodpanda became the business’ way of staying in the minds and stomachs of its customers.
“Ang kagandahan during the pandemic, imbis na magsara kami, nakapagtayo pa kami ng dalawang branch sa Banawe at Better Living sa Paranaque,” he said. Though it was a hard time for the food industry, Mr. Castronero found a way to survive while staying true to his vision, “Naisip ko kung paano ko kakayanin maka-survive noon. Kailangan patok ang menu mo at syempre ang lasa ng pagkain.”
Now that things are starting to go “somewhat” back to normal, the local eatery is rebuilding its brand by relocating to a bigger location in Taft and expanding with new branches across the metro—more specifically, near other universities.
A taste for the masses
Inspired by students and having the majority of Filipinos in mind, the restaurant’s menu was anchored towards being unmistakably Pinoy and keeping their prices low to stay budget-friendly.
They have a variety of mouthwatering grilled meat dishes. The Benildean has narrowed down its best-selling and great-tasting menu items.
The restaurant has become known for its new best seller, Pork Samgyupsal, on a stick priced at ₱45 each. This dish was influenced by the Samgyup craze in the Philippines, and the owner wanted to reinvent the “samgyup” taste into their own “Benny” flavor.
Nothing beats a classic. Their Pork Sisig (₱80 for a solo meal and ₱180 for a full platter) is an explosion of textures and flavors with its savory, spicy, and crispy meat topped with sizzling hot egg.
Another Tinuhog ni Benny staple is their ₱180 Liempo meal which has stood the test of time because of its juicy and rich flavor that leaves everyone craving more.
“Syempre saan ka makakahanap ng karinderya na may Baby Back Ribs?” Mr. Castronero joked. The restaurant’s Baby Back Ribs are priced at ₱270 per meal and ₱990 if full slab. This dish features that unique Filipino sweetness in its marinade.
Other notable dishes are their ₱300 Inihaw na Pompano for anyone who loves fish and is looking for something lighter. Their menu includes a set of budget meal combos complete with ulam, rice, and iced tea drink. Their most popular combos are the two-piece barbecue sticks meal for ₱99 and lumpiang shanghai meal for ₱109.
“Ang goal namin is maging pangmasa ang presyo namin,” Mr. Castenero emphasized. Envisioning itself to be affordable and innately Filipino, this Taft-classic inihaw place caters to students, Filipino workers, food delivery drivers, and anyone who finds themselves craving that distinct and authentic Filipino taste, all while without breaking the bank.
Order your favorite inihaw goods at Tinuhog ni Benny through GrabFood and Foodpanda, or better yet, visit their locations at Taft, Banawe Quezon City, and Better Living subdivision in Parañaque.
Check out their Facebook page for their menu and the latest updates here.