Agemono Express
Roberto Capulong, 42, the man behind Agemono Express, a growing restaurant chain in the UAE, considers himself a dreamer. Image Credit: Supplied


  • Filipino expat Roberto Capulong, 42, owns and runs Agenomono Express, an Asian restaurant chain based in Dubai.
  • He stays focussed on quality, affordability of food on the menu, a mix of Japanese and Filipino cuisine.
  • He's now on an expansion mode: in addition to four branches and two kiosks, another branch is in the works.

Dubai: Filipino expat Roberto Capulong, 42, owner of an up-and-coming chain of Asian restaurants in the UAE, considers himself a dreamer.

But more importantly, the man behind Agemono Express considers himself a doer.

Currently, Agemono branches serve up affordable and quality Asian food through their branches in Satwa, Deira, Bur Juman and Ajman. In addition, he has two food kiosks in Al Rigga and Al Muraqabbat, both in Dubai.


His journey from employee to employer shows a story of grit.

Capulong, 42, holds a degree in electrical engineering from Bataan Polytechnic State University (BPSU), 2-1/2 hours north of Manila. About two decades ago, Capulong — then only in his early 20s — landed in Dubai to work as a waiter at a five-star hotel.

“When the opportunity came, I grabbed it without thinking about the kind of work I’d do. In my mind, being able to land a job abroad was already an achievement for someone with a dream,” said Capulong. He currently employs about 40 people across the six branches.

Not a walk in the park

His two-decade journey from waiter to restaurant owner was no walk in the park. While working as a young hotel staff, he picked up important life lessons. "I didn’t consider it a hindrance to deal with other nationalities.”

He also took to heart the basics of customer service, food handling. As a team player, he was then promoted as room service captain.

In 2006, Capulong made a move to work at a stand-alone restaurant called "Agemono," known among Filipino expats in the UAE. He worked there as operations manager until 2018.

When the owner settled for good in the Philippines, Capulong took over one of the branches.

“I knew how to run the business, so it was easy for me to manage and operate it,” Capulong said.

Since then, his story turned on its head, from employee to employer-owner. “It’s a huge responsibility to be in this  business. But it’s very fulfilling,” said Capulong, who currently employs about 40 people across the chain.

What's on the menu
The restaurant initially served Japanese dishes and eventually added Filipino cuisine on the menu.

• On the Japanese cuisine side, Agenomo’s best sellers include takoyaki, ramen, baked sushi and sushi.

• On the Filipino cuisine side, there’s tapsilog, bulalo, pansit luglug, togue and barbeques.


What motivates him to stay in a highly competitive food business?

“Financial freedom,” said Capulong. “My passion is to help our countrymen in a foreign country achieve their goals.”

He’s not done dreaming, and stays focused to keep moving toward his goals.

“I see it as an achievement realising that I am able to help the employees fulfill their dreams,” he added. The restaurant has developed its own following.

“We will continue to focus on providing quality food yet affordable price. Giving customers satisfaction as much as we can; (we’re here) because of our loyal customers.”


How does he deal with setbacks? “Perseverance,” Capulong told Gulf News, noting that facing staying focussed on one’s dream, make one more resilient.

As a dreamer, he said “I simply continue to press forward.”

Now, he’s on an expansion mode, with branch No. 7 in the works, opening “soon”. He declined to reveal details.

He said he takes each day as a challenge. This allows him to refocus on his dream, each time rediscovering that no dream becomes reality through magic: it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Capulong, however, said it’s the dreamer in him, and being in Dubai — a city where dreams do come true — that keeps him energised.