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A Taste of Baja in Manila?

Baja Mexican Cantina

Carne Asad Burrito (P255 +10%SC). Marinated Beef, Onions, Cilantro, Guacamole.

 

Manila is experiencing another round of Mexican Craze with Baja Mexican Cantina. It is the latest Mexican Resto to open in Greenbelt 3. It is getting disappointing reviews during its soft opening but people are willing to try and give it a second chance.

 

The promise of Baja is to serve authentic Mexican food like what you would enjoy in Baja, Mexico. Take the Burritos for example. The Carne Asad Burrito is served with just beef and vegetables wrapped in 7in. soft tortilla. The most frequently asked questions are: "Where are the rice and beans in the burrito?" and "Is this really how they serve it in Baja?"

Baja Mexican Cantina-5

 

The ambiance is cliche Mexican with super friendly servers. :)

 

Baja Mexican Cantina-2
Nachos with spicy salsa...  I love the spicy salsa! :)

 

Baja Mexican Cantina-4
Steak Quesadilla (P155 +10%SC). Cheddar cheese, grilled steak.

 

The quesadilla was served with soft tortillas. It is like eating a P50+ soft taco with little bits of beef and cheese. Most of the items are served with cheap plastic containers or plates.

 

Baja Mexican Cantina-9
Unlike Ristras which got rave reviews when it opened, Baja had a difficult soft opening. It deserves a second chance when it launches the full menu -- hopefully with rice and beans in the burrito. :)

Search restaurant menus and get freebies all over the metro.

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Rice and beans don't go in a "beef" or "carne" burrito. If it's a "bean" burrito then it's filled with refried beans and cheese. If it's a "beef" burrito then it's stuffed with "ground beef" and cheese. Not strips of beef! These restaurant owners need to sit down and talk with a mexican (isn't there a mexican embassy in the philippines) or take a trip out to Mexico. Or better yet visit San Antonio, Texas or California! The "burrito" pictured above is incorrect! It should be labeled a rolled up "fajita" because that's not ground beef! You want to really serve "authentic mexican food? Then serve "Mole Poblano! Which is the national dish of mexico! I know because I am a mexican!!!! Go to http://www.mexonline.com/molepoblano.htm
Do you know why backstreet "mom and pops" local mexican restaurants in Texas and California succeed? Because they keep it simple. Mexican food is actually easy. You almost always use the same ingredients for different dishes so keep those dishes simple. These ingredients are relatively inexpensive so don't try so hard. Don't get too fancy! It's the flavor and spices that make the dish. La Manana in Boracay does so well because they don't try to complicate the food so much. They keep it simple. Look,,, either go "Tex Mex" or go "authentic"! Both formats do well but don't mix the two. It cheapens the experience because it makes your customers feel like you are insulting their intelligence if you label your food as "authentic". You shouldn't cater to the ignorance of people who think "beans and rice" go inside a "authentic" burrito (they must have picked up that cheap filler bad habit from mexicali). Thats just cheap filler. You won't fool those who know what good mexican food really taste like. Put Chalupas, Empanadas, or Tostadas on your appetizer menu and always serve "pico de gallo" with mexican food.

Thanks for sharing your point of view and foodie expertise on this :)

anton

We were quite disappointed but hopefully they'll improve next time...

http://alineang.blogspot.com

Yeap, you were right about the plastic containers.... it made the whole thing look cheap... I hope they do something about it though before I go there next week and eat this... the manager might hear from me...

Isaias,

Bro, it could be called a Beef Burrito and it doesn't have to be ground. There's actually 3 ways you can have a beef burrito, SHREDDED, GROUND and of course CARNE ASADA ( Grilled Steak - asada means grilled like POLLO ASADO = grilled chicken). Also they dont serve Mole Poblano everywhere in Mexico bro', it's mainly from Puebla, Mexico , where they dont serve burrito hehehehe.
Fajitas are serverd sizzling with onions, peppers etc. then served with tortillas, then you make your own roll, chicken, beef or seafood

Anton,
The cheap plastic thingy baskets and plates... unfortunately, that's how most of the Taquerias and Carneceria's serve their food, very country-side (may pag ka baduy hehehe).

Mexican food varies by region, just like China. Filipinos from the old country don't care much about burritos, it's for the youngen's and the more adventurous eaters. * Don't care = meaning they dont have the cravings for it. Not sure why.

Surprisingly the Mexican Menudo (Beef Tripe Soup sometimes with Pata or cow hooves) hasn't caught on in the Philippines because I think Filipinos will like it. I first had it in El Paso Nacional, Durango, Mexico and it was very good at 3 o'clock in the morning. According to my Mexican friends, it's good for hangovers hehehehe.

P.S.
The best burrito I've had is Burrito Vallarta (of course influenced by Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), black beans (frijoles negro), mexican rice (arroz), sauted shrimp (camarones) and Nopales (Mexican cactus) then you can have it , con todos (with everything)like sour cream, guacamole etc either on or on the side. Dude it's real good!

Though I usually eat native Filipino food when I'm back home, with the ocassional Tsukiji trips hehehehe.

Thanks Jin-Jie for this comment!  Somehow, I was expecting you to share your foodie expertise on this :)  Im sure some people who would read this comment, might implement it in manila :)

Thanks for the perspective as well on the plastic plates and containers, hehe.


Anton

jalapeno has excellent tortillas.
agave.... not really good in our point of view

wow so much heated debates about this Restaurant. Let me start by saying let's look at this in a worldly perspective.

Isais: if you are mexican, you should know that there are many ways of making tortillas; corn, flour, sonoran, tostada style, and wheat. Should we say all are authentic or only a few? Beef: ground, strips, chunks, minced, etc. in the end, it is beef.

Please don't call filipinos ignorant. If you are Mexican insulting my country, please leave my country. Many filipinos may not be worldly or have not traveled, but they are NOT ignorant. And do you even know what MOLE is? (Chocolate, prunes, chiles and spices.) I've had it and i do not think Filipinos will enjoy that!! Look at you food experts here still debating on the rice inside of the burritos. Very ridiculous topic. (please people, research!!)

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357410

Yes, burritos are not suppose to be with rice. Rice is a filler. But it is going to take some time for Filipinos to understand that because this country uses rice as staple food.

aline: there are other Mexican restaurants out there. I'm sure you'll find something you will like. Just like burgers, i do not like McDonald's or Jollibee, but i love Brother's burgers and Wendy's. Does this mean i'm an expert in Burgers?

Kumagcow: please look at the restaurant's sign, it says cantina. Cantina for lay man's term it's like Carinderia. Why would you tell off the manager if the manager just works there?

Jin Jie: I think what you wrote has to be the most objective thing in this blog. Everyone has their own perception of food. One thing I hate about food blogs is if they are not so exposed to the cuisine. People go to the US or Mexico one time in their lives and all of a sudden they are an expert. Very informative write up. Thank you for educating me on that.

"Authentic" what does that mean?? Well, upon my travels here in the Philippines, i've tried many different ways of eating ADOBO; Some with chicken, some with pork, some with onions, some sweet, some salty, some with dried bean sprouts, and some with bananas etc. I've also ate so many varieties of PANCIT; bihon, canton, combination, and rice noodles at different textures. WHICH ONE IS AUTHENTIC FILIPINO FOOD?

Why can't we just enjoy food at different experiences rather than ridicule it for what we think it is suppose to taste like? I'm Filipino who's traveled and lived abroad. Upon my return, i'm surprised by the different varieties of how each this is made in different region. Some are better tasting for me than others but i appreciate it all.

There are many ways of Authenticity according to regions of the country. Who are we to dictate what is Authentic and what is fake. Thank you all for reading my write up.

I will eat here this week and give my subjective opinion as well as objective facts. Thanks Anton!!

Hi Anton,
I tried this place during their first week and I was disappointed. Having lived in LA and San Diego and eating mexican food at least 3x a week my taste is a bit harder to please. I came back a third time because its near the movie house in greenbelt 3 where we usually watch a movie and I was blown away. I guess third time is the charm. I noticed a lot of americans and filams and there was a long line outside. They have come a long way since my first disappointing visit here. I had the carne asada nachos, fish taco and mexican burrito. Im IN LOVE with the mexican burrito!! my 2 guy friends had the california burrito and carne asada burrito my girlfriend had the margarita chicken and she really loved it. I spoke to some filams outside while having a smoke and the consensus was it was the closest thing to the mexican food back in Cali from all the mexican joints we've tried here. I've gone to Zapata and that is my second favorite, ristras is my 3rd because its like chipotle. Jalapeno is more fil-mexican, i think thats what they are going for. To adhere to the taste of the filipino. Its not bad, but its not what Im looking for. Mexicali is also fil-mexican. Tia marias and agave is the bottom two for me.
There is just so much debate on what the best mexican or what mexican food should be. In my opinion just try them all and decide for yourself on what is best for your taste buds. Last year we only had a few mexican restos and this year there are 3 new comers and all 3 are good in what they want to serve. So from a mexican food lover, thank you guys and I hope you don't rest on your success but keep on working to improve the taste. quality and service or your respective establishments.

Hi Migs,
Thanks for the opinion! I was excited to try Agave but with your opinion, I
might not try it. You seem to know you're Mexican Food :)

Anton

Hi Anton,
Please don't let my opinion deter you from trying Agave. Like i said, taste differs from person to person. Who knows you might like it. I have been reading your blog for 2 months now and congrats on being featured in Rogue magazine! The reason I read your blog is you don't label yourself as a food expert but rather a food lover, which I respect. More power to you and regards to your family :)

Migs

Anton,

My highest respect to you as well. NOT a food expert, BUT a food lover. My hats off to you...

hm. i ate here recently and it was okay. not that very adventurous with food, and am still a student so not that much cash to throw around. LOL. however, i did order a burrito i think or something like that, that had beans and rice in them. one of my friends had the chicken and one had beef, all of it had rice and beans in them. enjoyed the nachos and the guacamole. very very "full"filling. LOL. can't say it is a good Mexican place since i don't have anything to compare it to, but the food was quite good. i would come back.

PS they still serve it in plastic containers. LOL. it did make the food look cheap.

Yeah I heard that the food in Baja is good already... will check them out again next time.


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why do burritos always need to have rice and beans in it? very rare do i see burritos in mexico with rice and beans inside, unless its a platter or if its an americanized burrito?

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