Posted 3 months ago
You stayed up late partying with friends in Olongapo City. It’s closing time—to use the local bar lingo–and you suddenly felt your stomach rumbling. Where do you go? McDo and Jollibee don’t seem like great places after a late-night after-binge grub. If you’re like most Olongapeños, then you’d probably end up at Rico’s.
By Percy Roxas
Rico’s has been a perennial favorite of ‘Gapo late-nighters for as long as we can remember. It’s location on the corner of 4th and Corpuz streets — which is very accessible from the city’s main nightlife hubs — and its 24-hour operation, is a boon to many bar hoppers hungry for a quick, delicious meal after a drinking binge.
It was so popular that way, in fact, that Rico’s opened an extension branch in Baretto, another leading entertainment area in Olongapo. And a third one, we heard, is already underway.
While the original Rico’s in downtown ‘Gapo now boasts a fancier dining area than the last time we have eaten there, it is still – strictly speaking — a fast food eatery. Not fastfood in the McDO, KFC, or even Chow King style maybe, but a fastfood place still. I mean, you want food, you want it fast– you go to Rico’s, any time of day.
And, like all fastfood joints that have succumbed to “promos” like “set meals for the affordable crowd,” Rico’s now serve set meals such as bistek with rice, porkchop with rice, dinuguan with rice, and other Pinoy specialties for just a little over a hundred peso or so. There are a la carte options too, such as bulalo just to name a few, but of course.
The eatery was so successful because those who live in the surrounding areas find Rico’s a great option when they don’t feel like cooking, or when visitors come to stay for meals and they are caught unprepared. And these days, by the way, Rico’s is among the few locally owned eateries that have withstood the onslaught of outsider competition.
But our memory Rico’s as a true-blue Olongapeño eatery serving an array of delicious, affordable home-style Filipino food (“A pride of Gapo,” says many) the quality of the food has gone down a bit today, it seems – especially if you go there after 2 or 3 a.m.
Take my “Bistek Tagalog,” for example. Topped with uncooked sibuyas Bombay, and served with half-cut salted egg and rice almost as tough as plastic, I wasn’t able to control myself and complained to the staff: “Have you ever tasted this rice?” My friends’ rice tasted the same, so I guess it wasn’t just me being fussy. To be fair, the staff quickly replaced my rice with a newly cooked serving.
Now, I’m not here to bash Rico’s and I sincerely hope our recent experience there was an isolated one. In fairness, my friend finished his sizzling porkchop in no time at all. It must be good. And the bulalo soup wasn’t shabby at all.
Perhaps our timing was just off. But a few more customers came in after us, meaning many people go to Rico’s to eat during unholy hours so they must be prepared. They are open 24 hours right? Anyways.
Now pricewise Rico’s was right on, I would say, because our meal – for four persons – sans soft drinks or beer, cost us less than PHP500. I also notice their posters for all-you-can-eat buffets, at PHP150 and PHP170 only, respectively. I’d like to try these budget buffets mind you.
Anyway, we’re glad that Rico’s is still open when other eateries in the city are already closed. You’ll find it invaluable too when your hunger pangs attack during unholy wee hours.
But I just hope that they – and other local restaurants here — develop more service-mindedness and work their best to ensure consistent quality, not only in their food but also in their overall service. With a world-class Freeport just over the main gate of the former U.S. Naval Base, it’s not too much to ask, is it?
And anyway, why allow some bad rice or bad bistek ruin your reputation when — with just a little effort — you can rise up to your status of being a local legend? Beats me, Rico’s.
First Published: subicsun.com