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Asian fusion restaurant Orani unites Filipino food culture and Christian faith

Picture by Pamela Orani for TheCircular

“My dad would always tell us, don’t just be an employee, own a business because that’s where you’re going to do things,” says the co-owner of the restaurant Orani, Pamela.

Orani, an Asian café and restaurant in Dublin, opened last year in summer of 2023. The eatery in Blanchardstown Corporate Park is run by a Christian Filipino family.

Pamela looks back on how the idea of her own restaurant came about: “The Covid pandemic was obviously bad news to everyone, but the pandemic brought us together and we really thought of this business.”

But during the pandemic they started with a delivery service before opening their own restaurant. With restaurants slowly reopening in Dublin, Pamela and her sister were keen to find a place to serve their food as interest grew.

The two saved up to finance a restaurant in the newly built office building in Blanchardstown. The owner of the office building was delighted with their business proposal, as the Philippines are very close to his heart.

Picture by Pamela Orani for TheCircular

Their cultural and national heritage is highlighted in their menu through dishes such as ‘Jolly Spaghetti’ or ‘Ube Latte’.

For those who aren’t at all familiar with Filipino cuisine, here’s a little insight from a native. Jollibee Spaghetti, Pamela’s favourite dish, is a modified Italian pasta known for its minced beef and sausages in sweet tomato sauce. It reminds her of her childhood in the Philippines, when her grandfather brought her spaghetti from the Filipino fast food chain ‘Jollibee’, from which the dish takes its name.

Jollibee was founded in 1975 and is considered the ‘McDonalds of the Philippines’, which is expanding very quickly internationally. This year, more than 7,000 branches will be enlarged with 600 new locations worldwide.

Picture by Madeleine Masoudi for TheCircular

As Pamela loves and cooks Jollibee spaghetti so much, she has developed her own recipe for Orani. Her sister, who has a degree in culinary arts, also gives the dish a certain touch by adding a few Japanese ingredients.

Picture by Pamela Orani for TheCircular

“We use it for drinks. We use it for our desserts. The Ube brownie cheesecake would be our original dessert that we started with during the pandemic,” mentions Pamela, “and that’s our popular choice.”

The intense and distinctive violet colour comes from the root vegetable ‘Purple Yam’ and is usually sweeter than the purple sweet potato. The vegetable itself is rich in healthy carbs, vitamins and fiber. Filipinos love to add Ube to various sweet and savoury foods and drinks like ice cream, brownies, Filipino-style spring rolls or their favourite coffee.

Picture by Pamela Orani for TheCircular

Pamela emphasises that it all goes back to God’s provision and His ways: “We can never not include God in the business. So when people ask us, we have to say that we can’t take credit for our ideas that we’ve given customers.”

The ways they incorporate their Christian faith is by praying before they start to work. In addition, Orani is always closed on Sundays to honour God by going to church and taking a day of rest.

Customer service is the be-all and end-all for the Orani team. Pamela says that it doesn’t matter how good the food is, if the customer service isn’t good, they wouldn’t come back. So treating customers well is very important to them, and it’s also a way of sharing their Christian faith.

Picture by Pamela Orani for TheCircular

The newest addition to the menu is one of the most popular Filipino desserts called Halo-Halo, which is Tagalog and translates to ‘mixed’. Halo-Halo is colourful in presentation and distinctive in taste because of its various ingredients – a reflection of the dessert’s name. The base of crushed ice and evaporated milk is followed by various fruits and sweets, and the crowning glory is Ube ice cream.

In the future, Orani would like to expand preferably in busier areas such as shopping centers, which are also more centrally located.

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