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NOT EVEN CLOSE

| Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mark (weLegendary) and I have been craving for good Mexican food ever since DJ SkratchMark told us (along with a flurry of spam ads from friends) about this new joint in Makati. I received a message yesterday saying that Baja Mexican Cantina opens today. I met up with Mark and his crew after work before heading south. Look who it is. It's the magic man rockin' a pair of Air Jordan Is!


After getting stuck in heavy traffic we finally reached our destination. Scroll down for the photos. Verdict on the bottom of this entry.












Fish taco


Chili fries


Nachos


Steak chimichanga


My face sums up my experience


The good:
1. Ingredients were fresh

The bad:
1. They used the wrong cheese.
2. Fries used were thinner than Jollibee or McDonald's fries. The chili only had a hint of what chili should taste like.
3. More than half of the items on the menu were not available.

The ugly:
1. Burritos with no rice and beans? You should call them shawarma instead.
2. Cabbage is NOT lettuce.
3. One of the owners was cursing at the kitchen staff. We were seated less than 10 feet from where all the drama happened.
4. The place was filled with groupies. A bunch of them made us feel like we weren't even supposed to be there by staring at us from head to foot.
5. They overcharged me for my chimichanga. Again, no rice and no beans. They gave me a discount of 40 pesos after I complained. Wow.

I'll stop now before I get killed over this entry. The owners are friends of friends and I know they won't be happy when they see this. I didn't even complain about the poor service. That one I can let go since it was only their first day.

To tell you the truth, the food wasn't even nasty. It just wasn't what I expected. I closed my eyes while eating and it didn't even taste like Mexican food.

Good thing Grappa's was still open. We washed down what we ate with some good beer.

Would I visit this place again? Maybe when they get their food right.

Until then, the search for the best Mexican joint continues.

Comments (27)

Thanks for your insightful input. This was Baja's first day. That is why we have a soft opening sign at the door we are currently working to iron out all the kinks for our place.

To me, Im taking your comments very personally since it was very irresponsible of you to put this up. You should slow down on your post about a place that has just opened & is ironing out procedures. Being in the Culinary industry for the past 13 years in Manila & LA, I have encountered so many fly by night critics that I dont even stop & take a second look. But you kid, have taken it to the next level. Again, what you said about our Baja, Im taking very seriously.

Louj - ( Culinary Director Baja Inc. )

I like the Carne Asada burrito in Baja. I've been to mexico 3 times and spent about a week each visit and I must say baja comes very close. There are different ways of making a burrito and most don't use rice or beans. Its a matter of preference I guess. I also like the nachos and the fish tacos. I've eaten in ristas and it was ok but it lacks the taste I remember when I was in Cabo. Baja's service needs a lot of work. The servers look shy and timid. I would like a fridays or outback kind of service. The price was very cheap compared to others. Price and taste Baja wins for me IMO

Louj,

Thanks for posting.

Irresponsible in what way? I based my comments on my personal experience and not hearsay. If anything, you should take this entry as a challenge and improve Baja. Taking my review personally is absurd and the threats are unnecessary. I have nothing against the establishment and the people behind it.

I've been a big fan of Mexican food for more than half of my life. I've tried Mexican/Tex-Mex taco trucks, fast food joints, taquerias, restaurants and hotels in different cities in NorCal, Socal, Las Vegas, Arizona, Florida and even Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I pretty much know my Mexican food.

Please read my entry again. I was only trying to be fair to my readers. Maybe you should be too.


Best Regards,

Jojo


PS. I'm a 30 year old father of 3 boys. I haven't been called a "kid" for the longest time so I'll take that as a compliment.

I can understand someone getting offended if anything was said that was truly blasphemous, but the fact of the matter is KC posted straight facts. It's kinda hard to argue that the right cheese was used, the fries aren't thin, half of the menu items not being available, burritos with no rice and beans, cabbage being used as lettuce, owners cursing at the kitchen staff, and being overcharged for his chimichanga. So that makes about 7 things out of his list of 8.

How are you as the owner going to know about your kinks if you aren't made aware of them by your patrons?? How can you as the owner blame it all on it being the soft opening? Shouldn't you as an owner who has years experience in the restaurant industry know that your soft opening is more than just working out the kinks, this is your chance to also really hit it out of the ballpark and make your grand opening something amazing. As a restaurant owner you should know that you really don't have room for the type of oversights that were made. I mean a burrito with no rice and beans?? (I don't even know many Mexican MEALS that don't have rice and beans as at least a side) Using cabbage as lettuce?? (Was that supposed to be more Mexican because if so then you got it way wrong) I should know. I'm Mexican.

I'm glad you're taking what KC said very seriously, I hope this means that you take the time to make things better seeing as how you can really benefit from this. With this much experience you should know that you don't need the people kissing your ass because while it may be nice they don't offer the insight for you to grow.

KC offered his insight in what I thought was a very straight forward way without attacking anyone personally. Even said himself that perhaps it was due to the soft opening and perhaps may be back to give it a second chance at a later date. Instead of taking the time to take things very personally and get offended, take the time to listen for possible improvements because otherwise I don't see KC's as the only post on the internet that may upset you.

The menu clearly stated that the chimichanga came with rice and beans on the side. When I saw that there were none when my food was served I didn't bother asking for them anymore as we just wanted to get out of the place.

There were only three of us but I ordered enough food for five people. I wanted to try as many items as possible to give the joint a fair review.

I don't even know why some people got upset over what I wrote.

:\

On a side note, I can't wait to have this again.

http://niketalk.yuku.com/sreply/1186536/t/Norcal-s-GRUB-Thread.html

http://www.kingcrux31.com/2008/09/chimichanga-heaven.html

I dined in baja today to go after what I have dreamt about during my younger years spending numerous occasions in ROSARITO, MEXICO. Oh how i miss my youth. During spring breaks, I would drive down with the rest of my college buddies to party down in MEXICO. After our drunken nights, we would always go to this lil taqueria. Boy for $1, you can get this lil carne asada tacos with this spicy hot salsa. There was a long line of 30 and man was it good.

I'd have to say, BAJA carne asada tacos is really close to the ones I had in Rosarito. Thanks BAJA.

I also miss RUBIO's and BAJA fresh FISH TACOS. I have to say, man it is exactly a carbon copy. Tortilla, breaded fish, tomatoes and cabbage. WOW thanks again BAJA i love the TUESDAY TACOS special in BAJA FRESH. I hope BAJA will have it too. I also like it in corn tortillas. I hope they serve it in that soon but i understand that filipinos are not educated in the corn yet.

I don't know what these guys are talking about the cheese??? It looked proper to me... My Quesadilla was with cheddar cheese. YUMMM!! Thank you for the great salsa, guacamole, and real sour cream.

Guys don't you know that you shouldn't go to a restaurant on he first day!!

My friend said also that the pork chops were dry. I tried it with my gf and it was great to me. I asked the server what was the big fuss about the dry pork chops?? She told me that they were trying out the local pork chops and switched to the US quality. Well local meat sucks hahaha.

I don't care much for chimichangas. That dish is for the gringos. By your picture, i don't think i would order it.

My sombrero is off to you BAJA. Thank you for bringing down this AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CUISINE. I longed for this. Is this an American or Mexican Franchise?? Are you franchising this?

KC why do you even approve trolls? The comment posted above me is an obvious lie and here's proof.

EXHIBIT A - Baja Mexican Cantina

http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/5061/img1840r.jpg

EXHIBIT B - Rubio's

http://i32.tinypic.com/2w35q4m.png

I agree with KC on this one. Not even close.


KFC 4 Lyf,

Mayor of NYC

Mayor of NYC,

I approve comments as long as they are appropriate.

Whether it's a lie or not, I'll leave that to my readers to decide.


Best Regards,

Jojo


PS. I can track comments posted by matching time stamps with visitor activities using statcounter.com. I know if the same person is posting using different names.

I don't see how a post like this is deemed "irresponsible." KC ate there, and gave his honest opinion about it, with no biases whatsoever and he knows Mexican food having had it for many years. He has a right to give his opinion and his readers can take it or leave it.

As a Culinary Director, you should understand that people have different tastes and preferences and if people like the food at Baja, KC couldn't keep them away.

Also, criticism is all part of the culinary industry. Not everyone will like the food you put out. Being in the industry for 13 years, you should know that by now. It's what you do with the criticism that matters. You can either try to understand the criticism and see what you can do to improve or ignore it and keep ignoring and never learn anything. There is always room for improvement and things to learn in just about any industry. You can read all about restaurant reviews in the paper. I'm sure many have had soft openings and invited people to try the food, ambiance, and atmosphere so they can give their honest opinion. From there are they able to work out any issues.

That's what's important: you wouldn't know what "kinks" to "iron out" if it wasn't for opinions like this.

If you yourself acknowledge that there are kinks to be worked out then how can you or anyone else believe anything that is overly positive?

The idea that you shouldn't go the first day is something I can kinda agree with but how is 3 days later any better? I mean how would kinks have been worked out by then when no one had made you aware of them yet?

Also I find it quite hilarious that anyone is applauding cheddar cheese in a quesadilla. Cheddar cheese in a quesadilla is just ludicrous to me. After that comment there was no way I can trust that opinion especially after they try and tote it for being authentic Mexican cuisine. Get your facts at least straight before having your friends or yourself post as anonymous.

Why not fix out the kinks you yourself acknowledged and then invite KC to stop by again? Wouldn't that have yielded better results?

How come you didn't post my earlier comment?
Mike

man whatever happened to:

"THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT" RIGHT?

I mean c'mon we paid full price into something we didnt like, and that's our opinion. And blogging or commenting is free... or last time i checked I think its still is.

We didnt hate the food, we just didnt like it, the comments made were detailed, so i guess thats a free guide for you to whats wrong... and hopefully that's where you take things "VERY SERIOUSLY"...

and oh 13 years? can ya pin point which culinary establishments are these? that way we'd see if they have the creds as being a good place to eat at.... just my 50 cents, 'coz 2 aint gonna do...

and yeah, I really hated the cabbage on my fish taco... and i even tried to order 2 of those... after munching the carne asada burrito(which was alright) the burrito that is....

Mike,

I approved every comment posted. Maybe you forgot to hit the PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT button?


Love, Peace and Happiness,

Jojo

wow things got heated up here... hahaha the joy of bloggers and critics. I am the person who posted about the cheddar cheese and me being Rosarito, Mexico.

Are any of you here from the states? I am a fil-am. And I'm about to school you guys right now..

Miss A, what goes inside a quesadilla? You mentioned cheddar cheese in a quesadilla is not mexican. Have I been eating wrong quesadillas all my life? Damn restaurants cheated me!!!!!

Question, are we all fil-ams here? I grew up in the states actually. Filipinos have a different perspective of what mexican food should be. Mexicali and Ristras is NOT mexican food by taste and by ingredients. Sorry!! and i know the owners of Ristras and Mexicali. Ristras and Mexicali is Filipino-mexican food.

Zapata and Baja is the closest you will get in MY opinion.

I guess to each is own. That is why they built Jollibee, Burger King, and Brother's Burgers. We can't tell Jollibee to make their burgers like American.

Each establishments have their target markets. Maybe Baja's target markets are fil-am's. 90% of the customers in Zapata's are foreigners. Mexicali customers are locals.

Miss A, you said you were mexican. Donde vivas usted? Hablas espanol? Por que vivas aqui? Eres tu bonita o fea? Da me tu numeros para tocar en telefono ahora. Yo gusto mi hynas tambien...

To everyone out there... I am the expert of Mexican Foods. Take it from me. I have been in search for good mexican food here in the philippines.

You want half ass Mexican food, then go to Mana's, Boracay (sweet in taste yuck), Ristra's, greehills (all rice and corn wannabe chipotle), Jalapenos, Ortigas (crap), Mexicali (really crappy dried up tortillas and stale meat)

You want as close as it gets?? GO to Zapata, Pampanga and Baja, Makati. I guess this is as close as we will get to Mexico cause we are in the Philippines.

Hasta la pasta burachos!!!!

THE END!!!!!

Just because you're Fil-Am doesn't make you better than us. GTFO of here with that mentalitly. If you're so proud of yourself then go back to where you came from. We don't need you American rejects here. I'll take KC's word over yours Anonymous. He's credible. You're not.

Kung di ka marunong mag-take ng criticsm food business is the wrong business!

For the amount of effort you put into commenting over and over again under "anonymous," you could have worked the "kinks" out and make some changes.

If the food at Baja is good, then let the food speak for itself instead of posting several comments under "anonymous" pretending to be different people raving about the food. Ask yourself why you would feel the need to have to be "anonymous" and make up rave reviews from customers.

If you can't take a little critique and criticism, you have no place in the culinary world.

How can you claim 13 years under your belt when this is all I saw when I Googled your name? http://blogs.spot.ph/editors_blog/?p=1519 You sound like a fraud who fooled people into investing money in Baja.

Cheddar Cheese (the yellow kraft singles cheese) does NOT go inside a quesadilla. If that is how you've had them all your life then yes you are in fact doing it wrong. Mozzarella is the cheese that you should at least try using. Even Mozzarella cheese is not authentic Mexican though. Ask anyone who has actually been to Mexico and they will tell you the cheese used has more of a rubbery consistency and doesn't exactly melt like Mozzarella cheese.

Yes I grew up in the states (first generation) and am full Mexican. I understand Spanish completely even freetranslation.com Spanish! Anonymous you are trying too hard and being more than a little inappropriate all while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. All the things you said more than pushed it and just further the notion that your opinion shouldn't be taken seriously at all.

Miss A, are you hot? I love mexican chicks... Can I have your number. the cheddar cheese guy again. Hey do they sell kraft singles here?? Where in rustans?

If you are hot, i promise i won't hide behind my cloak. I will post my pic. :) Let's forget this mexican food. Beans give me gas anyway.I don't know what the big deal is. Dinner someday perhaps?

all this bickering is only giving these restaurants advertising. Look at SONJA's cupcakes. Everyone bad mouthed her the first 3 mos. Look at her now, after so much controversy, it put her on the map... Congrats Sonja

Miss A if you are single and hot, holla!!

Jojo, i appreciate your critisism, and would like to say that some of your comments are justified in my book. i guess it was really just the way they were worded that got under some peoples skin.

1. As has been said before, some mexican restaurants don't have rice, and beans in there burritos. we will be making a note that they can be added if the customer would like them.

2. We were not intending to pass cabbage off as lettuce. this may be something we have to look into as well.

3. Yes, there was yelling in the kitchen, won't happen again.

4. Groupies? not quite sure what you mean by this. majority of the people that came the first day were personal friends of mine that came out to support. if anyone made you uncomfortable, i sincerely apologies for that. we want to make sure everyone has a good experience at our establishment. i'm sure you know looking you up and down is a very common thing in this country. i know it happens to me alot, and i don't take offense to it.

5. Service was bad, has been addressed.

6. Half the menu wasn't available due to a delivery not being made, but everything was available the next day.

Louj, lets just take the comments with a grain of salt, improve, and move on.

We are constantly improving, and taking people's critisism into consideration. we have improved all of our meats, and have made adjustments to some of the other items as well.

As someone said earlier, once we remove our "soft opening" sign, we hope you can come back and try our finalized product.

Thanks for everyone's comments,

Chris Aldaba
Part owner of Baja Mexican Cantina

Chris,

Thank you for the sincere reply.

My entry was never meant to offend but rather provide my readers with a honest and unbiased opinion whether that meant going against the grain or not. I'm sad that it upset people (friends of friends) but glad that it created conversation about what improvements can be made at your restaurant.

At the end of the day I consider this a non-issue and really do wish Baja the best of luck and hopefully see improvements that will make Baja the kind of Mexican restaurant that all of the PI can enjoy, not just me.


Love, Peace and Happiness,

Jojo


PS. Contrary to what some new visitors to this site think, I am not a jerk. Thousands of regular viewers (mostly abroad) say that I'm one of the nicest they have ever met.

Hello Jojo,

Just read all the comments. Looking back, we are trying our honest to goodness approach for the recipes & the menu for Baja. The thing we are all aiming for is to make it as close to Authentic Mexican as it can be with locally sourced ingredients.

The comment I made was to acknowledge & address your concerns about the food, service, et al.

Thats the reason for the soft opening. I dont understand all the haters out there but we are trying our best to provide the best whole package to the dining public.

Now to all the comments being posted here..Guys we promise to bring you the best that we can give.

Regards,

Louj ( Baja Inc. )

if abbatoir - i gather he's part of this mexican restaurant - is sensitive about criticism, then why in heaven's name did he and/or his friends open a restaurant. taste is subjective - what's ok to me isn't ok with you, so what's the big deal? what's delicious to you might taste crap to me, so what? and there is nothing more irritating than saying something in the menu then not delivering that when the order comes - if you say it comes with rice and beans, then give rice and beans. if you don't then you are short changing the customer. and there is no excuse for cussing at workers. what kind of abusive employers are you, anyway? KC paid good money for the food he ordered and he has ALL the right in the world to say whatever he wants about the food he ordered and PAID IN FULL for. gads, try opening a restaurant in New York and have New York Times food reviewer Frank Bruni taste your food. If he doesnt like what he ate, he'll ravage you. so what, you'll threaten Bruni and the New York Times and call him derogatively a "kid?" if you're onion skinned about your food, then you're in the wrong business. stick to family dining in your private dining room and just get a bunch of free-loaders eat your grub and enjoy all the sycophantic praises. you'll never get anywhere bud. if your food is bad and your freeloading friends say otherwise, you'll stay ignorant all your life.

LouJ aka Anonymous, next time hire a publicist who can respond more professionally to criticism since it is quite clear you are NO gentleman. Shame on you for being condescending on the Filipino clientele. I myself am a Fil-Am, based in the East Coast. I have been to Mexico, know my Mexican food and I want to say that your comments are beyond appaling. You did more to damage your restaurant venture than anyone else.

ChrisA, with all due respect, pls kindly put Louj "loose cannon" in his place. It's a pity really.. 13years of so called experience in the US did not give him a decent education and perhaps an ounce of humility.

KC, pls keep it up. Your honest opinions only promote a better foodie culture in the Phil's. More Power! You deserve a full apology from LouJ. BTW, He should also apologize to Miss A for being "Bastos" to her. His remarks to her is no way to treat a lady.

EastCoastFil-Am.

I've been surfing and, upon visiting your blog, got sucked in by the heated back and forth comments on Baja that were posted. I've heard about Baja and was planning to check it out for myself. But after reading the posts of Abbatoir (aka LouJ aka Anonymous), I've lost my appetite to do so (pun intended).

Here's what I have to say: Abbatoir, it's crystal clear that you're very passionate about Baja and, obviously, you were hurt by the negative review/comments. But KC was honest and objective. He simply gave you a consumers point of view. And what did you do? Threaten him! Tsk, tsk, tsk.

First of all, I'm puzzled why you had to react to the next posts as Mr. Anonymous. Why not stand by your words and stamp your name on it if you really believe what you're saying? Well, I guess you were concerned that readers may have assumed you were biased. Alright, that's acceptable.

But your "anonymity" left a bad taste in my mouth when you lambasted Miss A with rude, sexist remarks. "Hot Mexican chicks"!? Come on. That's disgusting and uncalled for! Tsk, tsk, tsk. Shame on you.

On the other hand, Mr. Aldaba was gracious and had the right attitude about the whole matter. LouJ, you don't just owe KC an apology. I suggest you apologize to Mr. Aldaba, too. Your misplaced passion and temper have just made you one of Baja's biggest liabilities. And by the way, your cowardly attempt to hide behind a veil of anonymity has made you lose your integrity.

My 2 cents worth: Stop the heated retorts. At the end of the day, Baja will have to deliver what it says it can and the consumer will be the final judge. The customer may go once... but that's not what makes a restaurant successful. It's how often customers come back that will determine that. And no amount of words will ever change that.

Good luck to all those behind Baja. And hat's off to you KC. Continue to be true. As for you Abbatoir/LouJ/"Anonymous", don't waste of your time reacting to this post. We readers/consumers don't want, nor care, to hear from you again. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

a friend sent me this link for me to read. you were a customer who stated what you think about the restaurant. there isn't anything wrong with that, it's a free country, right? if louj really has the experience he/she claims to have, he/she should know better and should take your criticism as a chance to improve the food they're selling. i think that would be the proper approach along with with a personal invitation to dine again and give you another chance to re-evaluate the restaurant. wouldn't that have been a better way of handling things instead of 'taking your comments personally' and throwing a hissy fit?

yeah, same here, L O S T my A P P E T I T E .
I will just go back to my Mexicali later today lmaoooo

Thank you for your sincerity KC


james r.