Food trucks aren’t – as of now – THAT common in the Philippines. Yes, we get the occasional trucks/vans turned into food outlets (the inside of the van turned into a kitchen or something), e.g. there were some right across De La Salle University in Taft Ave. in the City of Manila a few years back, until they were “kicked out”, thanks to the urging of local businesses that were threatened by them. Not surprisingly, these food trucks aren’t exactly second nature to us as, say, those in Roosevelt Street in New York, or the streets around Central Park or Hyde Park; or in the streets of LA.
Having said this, ONE food truck that managed to somehow survive can be found in Tagaytay; though this one isn’t a food truck per se, but more of a diner that makes use of the food truck concept to make a mark (i.e. the truck was converted into a mini-kitchen; but the same truck is no longer functional). And so welcome to… Red Bus Mobile Diner.
To start, and as was already noted, this one isn’t “mobile” – that it, the “food truck” doesn’t move from one place to another to sell the goods. Instead, whatever vehicle that’s there is only for show (even if it is also where the grilling happens).
The “truck” is also NOT a truck (per se) – it’s more like a van.
Behind the vehicle is a “shed” that houses the wooden tables/benches for the diners. And these are “swamped” by knick-knacks on the walls – from old road signs to an antiquated jukebox to an old telephone to… a poster of Audrey Hepburn. Stuffs – I suppose – for the diners to check (a la museum) while waiting for the meal/s to arrive.
Menu-wise, there’s not much here; just burgers and some Mexican fares. And yes, some lemonades plus local beers as pantulak (chase down the food).
WHY GO THERE
The easy answer to “Why should I visit the place?” is “NOVELTY”. As was also earlier said, there isn’t that many “food trucks” in the Philippines. And at least in my experience (while living in New York), some of the best foods that can be had are from these food trucks. So any – I say ANY – attempt to be one of those good food sources is worth checking out.
But novelty can also go so far. And here, it is good that Red Bus actually has some good offerings.
Tried during the visit were:
- V8 Burrito (P280 for beef; P275 for chicken). It has Mexican rice, grilled meat, veggies, and the company’s “18 ingredient salsa”. This one’s not bad; but it isn’t great either. Because instead of tasting the meat, the taste bud is – instead – overwhelmed by the Mexican rice. I assumed that this was because the intention is to make this a meal by itself (knowing how there are Pinoys who can be stingy and who may complain that the servings here are too small and aren’t very filling); but having savored real Mexican burritos that can be finished after just two or three bites, the stuffing of this one didn’t live reach that level of “YUM!”…
- Red Hood Bacon Burger (P200). With Angus beef patty topped with grilled bacon, and then stuffed with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. When the waiter and the waitress to serve us recommended this, they names a so-and-so TV personality who claimed to have liked this after taking a small bite after it was given her for free. Obviously, I was apprehensive – it’s like believing Kris Aquino “promoting” Huma Island in Palawan, after the management also said that she stayed there with her entourage for free (!). Fortunately for Red Bus, this burger is yummy, with a nicely grilled patty, soft-with-crunchy-parts bacon, and fresh veggies.
- Wasabi Burger (P190). Almost same as the above, but sans the bacon and with the wasabi. In idea, this should have worked (heck, “wasabi ice cream” even works!). The problem for me (and my companions who also tried it) is that instead of the wasabi adding to the flavor, it overpowered the entire burger. Now… if they can find a way to turn this into something that will titillate the palate, instead of overpower it, this could be really good. NOTE: Better eaten with ketchup that somehow neutralized the wasabi)…
Other offerings include quesadillas (P150), fajitas (P260), nachos (P140), Triple Cheez Pwiz (P210), El Mejicombi Salsa Burger (P200) and Simple Jack Burger (P180).
As is the case when wanting to best enjoy grilled stuffs, these offerings are great with beer (P60 per can here)…
WHY AVOID THE PLACE
That the burgers are somewhat… expensive is apparent; so for those with limited budget, this place isn’t a must-visit.
And then there are the “limits” – e.g. there’s no service water, so if you find that wasabi in the burger too spicy to your liking, better order the P50 lemonade or P140 milkshake beforehand. The ketchup used is also of low quality (you can always tell that the ketchup’s cheap because of that fake, plastic-like taste). Considering that the burgers are already somewhat expensive, you’d think the owner wouldn’t mind coughing up extra (and minimal) cash to give clients water to drink for free, and serve better ketchup…
Tagaytay is also NOT always accessible to everyone, particularly those without private vehicle/s. As such, visiting just for a burger may not be everyone’s idea of “fun”…
IN THE END…
All in all, though, the Red Bus experience wasn’t all that bad at all – I’d say it was even fun being there (after braving the rollercoaster-like streets of Tagaytay). So I’d say…
If in the area, try to check it out.
If with budget (particularly if you’re the one paying the tab for all your friends), check it out.
If keen to taste some QUITE good burgers (and stay away from fastfood joints), check it out.
But if you have doubts, there are others you can also check (e.g. Mac Daddy’s in Lucban) until you’re all ready to take a ride in the not-that-mobile diner called… Red Bus.
Red Bus Mobile Diner is located in Tagaytay.