28 November 2012

A Big No-No for Balikbayans (and regular Pinoys)

A few days ago, we brought our yaya and driver to Cabalen Trinoma for an early Christmas treat. They are very simple people who don't really indulge so we thought a dinner buffet would surprise them. Since it was just a few weeks before Christmas, we had to wait in line for a while since the place was packed. But for P298 only, we thought this would be worth it.


At first, we were a bit excited since buffet places usually offer several dishes which would make it hard for anyone to choose what to get first. But once we got in line to get our food, I noticed that there were only eight dishes.

Eight dishes, two kinds of rice, and three kinds of soup.

They did have a number of salads and appetizers and according to my mom, they replaced the last two dishes with two different dishes so that makes 10 dishes. They also had a grilling/sizzling section, breakfast dishes, and lechon.

Unfortunately, this is what their servings looked like. They barely had enough food left. I only chanced upon two pieces of grilled fish -- one catfish and another kind of fish, a small plateful of lechon, and these small platefuls of carabao tapa, tocino, and longganisa. They also had different sizzling sisigs -- fish, lechon, pork, and chicken. Another unfortunate incident is that it took an HOUR for them to serve our sisig. Actually, my order took almost an hour and a half because I ordered ahead of my mom's order. They told us they'd serve our sisig as they make it as you order. We got them after we finished our dinner. 

As for the dessert table, this is what we were left with.

Cabalen seemed to have had a hard time refilling their food. The rice cake plate took around 10 minutes to be refilled, the milk and syrup for the halo-halo took more than 15 minutes to be refilled, and the serving bowls, glasses, and plates for the dessert took more to be replaced. This is what we got after I asked for glasses for the halo-halo.

As you can see, there weren't any glasses or bowls for the halo-halo. I specifically asked for glasses so we can try the halo-halo. The halo-halo itself didn't look like halo-halo too. If you're not familiar with halo-halo, it is a type of Filipino dessert with caramelized bananas, sweet potatoes, different kinds of beans -- kidney beans, garbanzos, macapuno, langka (jackfruit), nata de coco, sugar palm, leche flan, and ube jam (purple yam jam). Guess what their "halo-halo" was made of? Bananas, beans, nata de coco.

Even if I don't find their buffet worth it, service still counts for something. Even if the food is not so good, the service can still change a customer's perspective of the meal. Unfortunately, even the service was bad. It took a long time for our requests for napkins, utensils, etc. to be attended to. They even got one of our requests wrong. We asked for forks, they gave us spoons. The worst part was, our driver was drinking iced tea and one of the waiters refilled his glass with red iced tea. It's justifiable if the glass was empty, but our driver's glass still had 1/4 of it filled with lemon iced tea. Yup, the brown-colored iced tea. I couldn't understand why this waiter refilled it with something else.

Personally, I regret this dining experience. For someone who loves to eat, I was so disappointed. The only thing that made this bearable was the fact that ate and kuya seemed to have enjoyed the buffet. It was their first time to eat buffet style.

Price: P298/person

1 out of 5 for Cabalen

3/F Trinoma Mall


  1. We tried this 2 years ago at Cabalen Sta. Lucia. And also same experience, service was really bad. Food was no where to be seen (LOL) and we went there a bit late for dinner time so obviously there were very minimal food varieties left on their buffet. This could probably the reason why they closed down that branch, very bad feedback from customers.

  2. Really? I thought this was an isolated incident. I still hear a few people talking about their buffet so I assumed it was a branch issue. I hope they really do something about it. It's sad to see an established restaurant go down because of mismanagement. :|