How ‘accidental’ sushi chef became Agemono Express boss in UAE

Estimated read time 2 min read

Roberto Capulong is the owner of Agemono Express. JONATHAN YBERA/EXPAT MEDIA

From making sushi rolls, Roberto Capulong is now rolling with the flavours at his popular Filipino-Japanese fusion restaurant, Agemono Express.

The self-confessed foodie and “accidental sushi chef” runs the show as the owner of the UAE-based restaurant chain. Roberto tells he is no stranger to taking risks, after all, he comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

Determined to carve his own path, Robert was only 19 when he flew to Dubai to work as a hotel waiter two decades ago. He later worked for Agemono in 2006, in charge of the restaurant chain’s seven branches in the UAE. “I was the operations manager, but since we were just starting at that time, I also had to learn how to make sushi. So, I trained as a sushi chef,” he says with a grin, explaining why his staff still fondly call him “chef”.

After over a decade, an opportunity came for Robert to take over the business. “I believe in Agemono,” he says, explaining why he excitedly accepted the opportunity.

He quickly got to work, rebranding the restaurant chain as Agemono Express and dropping its buffet concept for a leaner but better a la carte menu. “My wife and I took a loan to start,” he recalls.

ALSO READ: Agemono Express to open in Centurion Star Tower

Robert and his team worked on bringing quality Asian cuisine at affordable prices. Their bestsellers include Japanese street food takoyaki as well as Filipino favorites like bulalo, bopis, kare-kare and desserts like halo-halo and leche flan. There’s also merchandise, such as crispy garlic peanuts and crispy chicken skin in sour cream. His culinary team continues to innovate by bringing new items to the menu. “We recently launched the chilled taho. It was a hit,” Robert says.

The Filipino restaurateur says his secret ingredient to success is simple: “People’s taste buds change. You need to adapt.” ICA/Expat Media

A condensed version of this story also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition magazine

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