Saturday, March 23, 2013

IHOP: The Latest Pancake Craze

IHOP, or the International House of Pancakes, has recently made itself more international and branched out to right here in the Philippines. Alvie and I have actually gotten to try the place twice, once with family and then with friends. Here are the highlights of both meals.

The standard IHOP buttermilk pancakes.
Being as hyped up as it is now, IHOP can also stand for "IHOP-I-can-get-a-table-in-two-hours!". The first time we went, which, to be fair, was the first Sunday since its opening, we had to wait a whopping two and a half hours just to get seats. You can just put your name down and roam around a bit, but you can't go very far lest you'd risk losing your spot. The second time we visited was at lunch on a Friday, two weeks later. The lines had gotten better, granted, but it still took us more than an hour to get in line. We noticed that due to limited larger tables, smaller groups have a much better chance of getting in sooner, so you'd have much better chances if you go as a pair.

IHOP's only branch is located at Bonifacio High Street.
IHOP's menu is mostly breakfast-oriented and you'll see that most of these selections come with the pancakes on the side. Among the first things you'll see on the menu are the omelettes. I have tried the Big Steak, Hearty Ham & Cheese, and the Chicken Fajita omelettes and I find that only the last two are good. Delicious as the Big Steak Omelette sounds, I just found it quite boring.

The Chicken Fajita Omelette (two buttermilk pancakes not in picture), P265.00
They have many different breakfast combinations, most of which have healthy options, like having sides of mixed fruit instead of pancakes (No thanks, though. This ain't the IHOF). We had the Breakfast Sampler. It had eggs, hash browns, bacon strips, sausage links, and ham, also with a side of pancakes. A bit too heavy for one person, we decided to split this.

Breakfast Sampler, P395.00
I wouldn't say everything in the platter was great, but I thoroughly enjoyed the variety. The hash browns are different from what's usually available in that it seems much more fresh. It wasn't exactly bursting with flavor, but I loved the texture (think Pik-Nik chips that were freshly cooked and fried altogether). The rest of the breakfast meats were just alright. The bacon was good, but I wish there was more of it. There is never enough bacon. Right next to all the oily, salty goings-on is the sweet escape of pancakes, which turns this meal into a fun meal. The buttermilk pancakes on the side were fluffy and tasted delicious and we're glad they got this spot-on since it is their namesake, after all.

This foursome makes the pancakes and waffles even more interesting.
What is fun becomes more fun with four available kinds of syrup, which you can mix and match to taste with all the pancakes and waffles (hell, even the bacon if you're adventurous). Old-fashioned has that good old maple taste we are all used to. Strawberry and Blueberry are both good and very sweet, almost candy-like in quality. Butter Pecan is my personal favorite, because it has that rich butter taste with a subtle sweetness. Sugar-free syrup is also available. The pancakes come in many different flavors, of which we have tried a couple.

Harvest Grain 'N Nut Pancakes, P195.00
Visually similar to the standard buttermilk pancakes, these are quite different. This may just be my favorite that I have tried so far. It is a healthier option (I think) as it is packed with oats, grains, walnuts and almonds. I enjoyed the texture that filled every bite and the soft taste that went with it. This goes great with the more flavorful Strawberry syrup.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, P255.00
Now, I don't know if the whipped cream on the side was intended or it just slipped down before they served it (haha). Barely needing any syrup at all, this was quite a rich pair of pancakes. Not excessively sweet, but it had a very strong chocolate taste, almost to the point of being bitter. This goes great with butter pecan syrup just for added sweetness and moisture, but not too much of it. There is also a version of this that uses buttermilk batter instead.

Verdict: Good, Definitely worth a try.

All in all, eating in IHOP is a good experience, not counting the wait. You can avoid waiting too long by visiting during off-hours, in a small group, or just waiting for the hype to die down a bit. The offerings are very interesting and I love the variety. The pancakes are not too different from what we are used to, better, but still comparable to our local "house of pancakes". In addition to everything above, we have also tried the waffles, which were good, and the french toast, which was just average. It can be heavy on the wallet for a regular meal but I placed some tips below to help out. :)

The family at dinner (notice my multi-colored waffle).
Love IHOP? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

IHOP Philippines
W Global Center, 30th St cor 9th Ave
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
(02) 687-5611
Operating Hours: 6:00 am - 12:00 am
Facebook: IHOP Philippines

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BUDGET-SMART TIPS: The menu can be quite pricey so here are some things we did to make the most of the menu and our wallets.
- Share! This applies to pretty much any dining experience. Some of the meals are big, like the Breakfast Sampler, so they can be shared by two, along with any other side dish. It's also fun to have a taste of everyone else's orders, too. :)
- Plan your orders! One peculiar aspect of the IHOP menu is that despite the varying prices for all the pancake flavors, it costs the same (P50.00) to upgrade to any of them from a buttermilk pancakes side dish. For instance, an order of New York Cheesecake pancakes will cost P285.00. A Hearty Ham and Cheese Omelette would cost P245.00. Adding fifty pesos to upgrade your standard pancakes to the same flavor would just come up to P295.00. You just got a good omelette for ten pesos! You can navigate the menu all you want to come up with your ideal meal, with this in mind.


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