Monday, January 3, 2011

what can you buy for three pesos?

Last month, after my doctor's appointment, Ma suggested that we have a late lunch at the new place on the ground floor of The Block. It's called Tres.

Tres is Spanish for "three", of course.

The first thing I noticed was the huge sign at the door that said "Crispy kare-kare for three pesos only." Whaaattt?!

Too good to be true?

The second thing I noticed was the ginormous AC unit inside their tiny, tiny restaurant. It was directed full-blast at the table right across it, and I think that the thermostat couldn't be adjusted. Nor could it be made to change direction WTF.

We sat at the table in the corner, which turned out to be too warm. Whatever. I'd rather be warm than freezing, especially when there's food to be served.

For myself, I ordered a lamb adobo. I wanted to make sure that it didn't have the texture of shoe leather, so I asked the server...

Me: "Which part of the lamb do you use for the lamb adobo?"
Server: "The meat, ma'am."
Me: "Well, I should hope that it's the meat and not the bones."

I'm so sorry that I laughed at you, whatever your name is.

It turned out to be the lamb shoulder. Price PHP353.

I like lamb and I like salty adobo, so I liked this dish as a whole. We took the leftovers home and everybody else said that it was too salty. I think it's because people in my mother's household are used to adobo that's sweet, swimming in watery brown sauce and has hard-boiled eggs floating in it-- the Chinese-Filipino version of adobo.

Pop had to have his chicken, of course. We got him the fried chicken tanglad (lemongrass).

This induced some closing-the-eyes-while-chewing moments for Pop. PHP243.

Pop enjoyed this, but I just found it so-so. I'm not sure if I don't like fried chicken, or if I haven't met the right fried chicken yet.

Ma got the pinakbet with bagnet. The vegetable were crisp and fresh, so those was good. The pork was not genuine bagnet, of course, and a little too tough and soggy at the same time.

A pale version of what I had in Ilocos. PHP143.

The truth is, I prefer my pinakbet with just the vegetables. The bagnet deserves to be a separate dish altogether, and since I ate the best bagnet in the universe during our trip to Laoag in 2009, I have been forever spoiled. 

Finally, for carbs, we had the kalkag rice. It sounded so intriguing: "Tres' signature rice dish. The classic Filipino sinangag, served with a generous topping of kalkag, or dried, crispy shrimp."

Tasted just like an ordinary garlic fried rice to me. With crispy bits. PHP133.

We had three drinks with our meal, and lots of leftovers to doggy-bag. (Ma has a tendency to over-order everywhere we go.) With the parents' senior citizen discounts, our bill still added up to PHP1,000. Which meant that we got the crispy kare-kare for three bucks!

We didn't get to see it in its full glory, since it was all wrapped up to go, but here's a blurry picture from their menu. Unfortunately, I didn't get to taste it. When I looked for it in the ref the next day, it was gone.

Regular price PHP383.

Verdict: Tres is a good place to go if you have a hankering for Pinoy food, and their location is super convenient if you're in the SM North/ Trinoma area. The portions are pretty big and served family-style. Bring a group so that you can try more dishes. It's not cheap, but after you divide the cost among all the people who shared your meal, it works out OK. (All our food, including the take-out, fed six people.)

I just wish that restaurant owners and managers take more time and effort to train the front of the house. OK, Tres is not a fine dining place. It's located in a mall that caters to the hoi polloi, but that doesn't mean that the customers don't deserve a pleasant dining experience, right? You can be served the most fabulous food in the most exquisite setting, but if the members of the wait staff don't have a clue, then it destroys your mood and makes you hate everybody and everything.

It ruins the whole event. And make no mistake: For most people, eating out IS an event.

Me (after being served my Sprite with a glass of ice cubes): "Could you please just throw the ice in the sink? I don't want ice in my drink, thanks."
Server (not the lamb adobo one; another one): "OK."

He takes my glass and makes me wait five minutes while he serves the next table's food.

Me: "Hey there, my glass? I just want an empty glass. Hello?"
Server: "I'm busy here. I'll bring your glass back in a while."


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