Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Hungry Hippo Challenge

I’ve been frequenting this store somewhere in our office building for quite some time now because of their delicious burgers and sandwiches. I would have not known about it if not for my colleague who once brought with him a plastic bag containing something wrapped in aluminum foil. When he unwrapped it, I saw a very big hamburger (I’m used to regular burgers from fast food chain, so I considered this one big) with coleslaw, cucumber, tomato, and a patty that was overflowing with heart attack-inducing juices. I did not need to take a bite to know what it tasted like. Its aroma alone told me that it was very sumptuous.

I was a new employee then, and was being my usual shy self, so I did not dare ask my colleague (the assistant manager, actually) where he bought it. Thus, for months, I had been wondering about the store where the burger came from. Then, one day, I saw another officemate munching on the same burger, so I asked her what the name of the store is and where it is located, and thus, I discovered one of my favorite food store – Hungry Hippo!

The store for people who eat like a hungry hippo!
Hungry Hippo offers burgers, sandwiches, and other things that you can find in a fast food chain. It also has rice meals. What makes their food different is the serving. A Hungry Hippo burger combo (with fries and drinks) can actually be a lunch or dinner substitute. Also, unlike in some fast food chains, the burgers are not cooked until customers place their order, so they might wait for a while (but the waiting is worth it). There are only a few Hungry Hippo stores in the country, and I am glad that one of them is in Ortigas, where I work.

The store is located in a not so conspicuous place. No wonder I had trouble finding it at first. It’s in this small corner, where people do not usually go. The place is so small, must be less than 30 square meters (I do math now, hehe), and most of space is for the kitchen and the counter. Also, there are only maybe seven chairs. Still, when I first visited, I was surprised because the place was packed. Usually, most customers, like me, just place takeout orders (One time, someone ordered 28 burgers for takeout!), but some enjoy eating in the store while sitting on a high, wooden stool chair. Hungry Hippo also delivers to offices in our building and around it, but I prefer going to the store myself because buying food, aside from going to the restroom, is the only time that I get to go out of the office.

The items on Hungry Hippo’s menu are NOT cheap, for a poor boy like me at least, so I only go there once or twice a week. However, I had this crazy idea of eating different Hungry Hippo food items every day for one week (Saturday and Sunday not included). It’s crazy because it’s expensive and unhealthy. But what the heck…I survived it! Here are things I had during my Hungry Hippo Challenge (after the jump).


I wanted to try the cheapest thing on the menu (side orders excluded), which is the meaty grilled cheese sandwich (74 pesos), but the cashier recommended that I instead have the breakfast sandwich, which costs only 1 peso more, but unlike the meaty grilled sandwich, this one has egg (and the cheese is not grilled). Being on a high protein diet, I grabbed it.

Breakfast Sandwich, 75 pesos
It was just okay. It’s not that fulfilling, maybe because it’s called “breakfast sandwich.” I could make something like it at home if I had the time. The bread is just like one can buy from a local bakery. I wish I had the meaty grilled cheese sandwich instead because I seldom have grilled cheese.


BLT w/Cheese, 92 pesos (with fries and iced tea: 126 pesos)
This time, I wanted something heavy, so I ordered BLT w/cheese, with fries and iced tea on the side. In between two slices of lightly toasted bread is a generous serving of crispy bacon along with lettuce and tomato. The cheese, which has melted, makes everything perfect. It’s one of my favorite food items in Hungry Hippo’s menu. Well, for me, anything that has bacon in it is a winner!


Steak n' Cheese, 123 pesos (with fries and iced tea: 152 pesos)
 On this day, for the first time, I ordered steak n’ cheese. I was expecting a slab of meat in a sliced bun (there’s no photo of it in the store), but what I got was grilled meat in a bun. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it either. It reminded me of giniling flying saucer, which I used to eat when I was in college. It’s a bit spicy though, which I like. It has to be the weirdest item on the menu. I never ordered it again.


Fish n' Cheese, 109 pesos (with fries and iced tea: 140 pesos)
 After having red meat as snacks for the last three days, I decided to be healthy on this day, so I ordered fish n’ cheese. The fish fillet is crispy and not fishy at all. I don’t know what kind of fish is in there, but it sure is better than McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish in my opinion. I was also lucky enough to find two fish fillets on this day. I don’t know if there was a mistake or I was just rewarded for being a loyal customer, but there is usually just one fillet of fish in this sandwich. 


The most popular item in Hungry Hippo’s menu is the burger. Since it’s the last day of the challenge, I ordered it – but with egg! I don’t even know how to begin describing it, but I’ll try.

Burger n' Egg, 94 pesos (with fries and iced tea: 128 pesos)
It has the usual vegetables (lettuce, tomato, cucumber) that come with most Hungry Hippo sandwiches. What makes it special is the patty. The burger patty is so big and thick that some of it started falling off when I removed the aluminum foil covering the burger. It’s so juicy! I imagine The Krusty Krab’s Krabby Patty to taste something like this. The well done, sunny side up egg makes it more palatable (for someone who likes eggs at least).

Please excuse my food photography. The food items here look better in real life, I swear. Here’s a photo of the sandwiches that I grabbed from Hungry Hippo’s Facebook page for you to know what the sandwiches really look like.

Everything here is begging to be eaten!
 I wanted to try the hippo burger (not in the photo), which according to the cashier has two patties, but it is obscenely priced at 154 pesos. Chicken bacon melt and the hippo club also seem nice. I might try them some other day. For now, I’ll just enjoy this crabstick sandwich. Yummy! (Eating is my only vice, so please forgive me for talking about food.)

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