Kuya J SM Megamall: A Disappointing “Feast”

Kuya J SM Megamall: A Disappointing “Feast”

It was the last day of the year 2015 and the family is looking for a place to eat in SM Megamall for lunch for my parents’ post Wedding Anniversary celebration. As we all well know, Kuya J boosted its marketing strategy by advertising in TV, Internet, radio and other media which got the curiosity of all of us. They even have Jericho Rosales as their endorser who has done a great job on promoting the restaurant. I must say, their marketing plan is really good.

Of all of us, my mother was the most curious of all as she very well loves Filipino food. Kuya J opened one of its branches in SM Megamall recently so we all thought why not give it a try? As we are her loving sons, we approved and headed to Lower Ground Building A where the restaurant’s located. It is Mannang’s (A Filipino restaurant) old space in Megamall. We are 7 in the group.

Kuya J Restaurant

Kuya J Filipino Restaurant

Service and Ambiance

The positives first. The service was excellent. The waiters and staff are very attentive and always have a warm smile for you. We had no complaints. Two thumbs up for those hardworking staffs in Kuya J!

Kuya J Ambiance

Inside Kuya Js

The restaurant’s ambiance and interior is nice and clean. The lighting is perfect as it fits a homey feel for a Filipino restaurant. I hope they keep this up. A+!

The Food

Let’s cut to the chase. Let’s talk about the food and let me explain why we are disappointed. And yes, this is not sarcasm. I hate sarcastic posts, I don’t do that. What I saw, felt, tasted… I type it. No BS.

First things first, there are lots of dishes in the menu that wasn’t available. We were like:

Me: “Do you have this?”

Them: “Wala po (We don’t have it)”

Me: “How about this?”

Them: “Wala rin po (We don’t have it too)”

Me: “Oh how about this one? (I was ordering for Lumpia Presko and I’m confident they have this)”

Them: “Naku, wala rin po (Oh no, we don’t have it too)”

Dad: “Eh ano lang meron kayo? (So what are available?)”

Them: “We have this, that, blah blah”

So ok, let’s settle for what you have then. This is what we ordered.

Let’s start with the good one first, their Crispy Kangkong.

Kuya J's Crispy Kangkong

Kuya J’s Crispy Kangkong – P130

We love the Crispy Kangkong’s batter and how it was fried perfectly. Their dip which is a mayonnaise with garlic is also awesome as well. No complaints in this one especially that my young niece very well loved it.

Next, the somewhat OK ones.

Crab Rice platter

Kuya J's Crab Rice Platter

Kuya J’s Crab Rice Platter – P175

The Crab Rice Platter was good but I’m not sure if I found or tasted crab meat shreds there. I love eggs, but if you will tell me that this is a crab rice, then it should have crab meat right? For its price, you really should put some or more crab meat there. This platter is good for 2-3 persons.

Garlic Rice Platter

Kuya J's Garlic Rice Platter

Kuya J’s Garlic Rice Platter – P140

Just your typical garlic fried rice. It’s good but nothing spectacular here. Taste is similar to the Crab Rice.

Kuya J’s Crispy Pata

Kuya J's Crispy Pata

Kuya J’s Crispy Pata – P490

Serving’s good but we’ve eaten bigger Crispy Patas in other restaurants for a lesser price. Taste is just Ok but it has a strong anise flavor which overpowers the natural taste of the pork. They should lessen the amount of anise. The meat is soft and tender but the pork skin can be improved by making it crispier.

I don’t know the hype about their Crispy Pata but there are better Crispy Patas out there. Hint, it’s just somewhere in your neighborhood or maybe just make one at home.

Kuya J’s Crispy Wings

Kuya J's Crispy Wings

Kuya J’s Crispy Wings – P240

3 pieces of ample sized chicken wings doused with sweet sesame sauce. A little sweet for my taste but it’s manageable.

Now, the ones that has lots of room for improvement.

Sizzling Gambas

Sizzling Gambas

Sizzling Gambas – P295

Really, P295 for such normal tasting gambas and very small servings? There were like less than 10 small shrimps there with some veggies. Definitely not worth it for its price.

Crispy Dinuguan

Crispy Dinuguan

Crispy Dinuguan – P195

This has got to be the worst Dinuguan I ever had in my entire existence. I believe you can count how many slices of pork are there in the dish. There were just like 3 small pieces of non-crispy pork fat and 2 pieces of pork meat thrown in there. When the waiter served it to us, I was like… wtf? That’s it?! I almost uttered that same sentence but I held it inside my thoughts. I gave it the benefit of the doubt; maybe it’s that too good for such small servings? Then I tasted it and wow, P195 for such common dinuguan? No, let me rephrase that, because it’s not common. It’s sweeter than the usual dinuguan. I would not even pair it on a rice cake (puto). And it’s not even crispy! smh…

Even the carinderias in the public market are better and would put Kuya J’s “crispy” dinuguan to shame. For a mid-priced Filipino restaurant, this is really shameful. I was thinking that their Chef is experimenting with their dishes and just putting lots of sugar in every dish. I mean, yeah Filipinos love their food sweet but it doesn’t have to be like this right? They should do something about this because this is not how Filipinos serve food to their guests. Heck, we did not feel like we are paying customers because of the food and servings.

Funny thing is, my older brother suggested we order more. I told them no, we should not order anymore. It’s just not worth it and we will get disappointed again. We’ll just eat at home because there is more delicious food there. We left the restaurant still hungry.

Conclusion

For a total bill of P1665, it’s just not worth it. That money could go a long way in other restaurants. I hope they put Mannang back there because they are way better than Kuya J. Even KKK is better than them.  I commend their great service and nice ambiance, but we came here for the food.

Can you please improve on your servings and availability of dishes? This is a Filipino restaurant and the ingredients are widely available in the market. I know you have high overhead expenses because of the marketing but please remember that you are a food restaurant after all. People come primarily for your food so please improve on it. I’d rather eat in an unknown small restaurant with no air-conditioning but with good food. I won’t recommend this restaurant to anyone especially to foreigners.  It’s not a feast. More like a merienda.

Hate to do a negative review this New Year but I have to do it. Hindi kayo ang bida dito, sila lang.

Overall Rating: 1.5/5

He is a programmer by profession but has a soul of a traveler. Aside from his ultimate dream of travelling around the world, he loves to eat, drink, listen to music, talk about aliens and the occasional secret guilty pleasure of singing love songs in videoke. His favorite superpower is to teleport from one place to another. I guess you know why.

  • Blogged about them too: Kuya J’s SM Dasma Review

    We have similar thought about the crab rice!
    Two of our orders were not available too!
    This restaurant really needs to get their sh*t together.

    ~ Louise

    • Hi Louise,

      Read your blog and you’re damn right about everything you said. Kuya J’s such a disappointment. I’m now thinking if this is all part of their marketing strategy, but if it is, they’re doing it wrong.

      • Thank you for taking some time to read my blog post.

        True! If this is a publicity gmick, it’s not doing them any good. Because of our experience with them, I cannot see myself eating there again. I have also friends who messaged me personally to share their own bad experiences from different provincial branches.

  • jampochi ♥

    Agree.

    My bf & I ate here today. We wanted to order bulalo, lechon kawali, and gambas pero di daw available yung bulalo and lechon kawali. Gusto na ngang sabihin nung kuya kung ano lang available e.

    Since 2 lang kaming kakain, we changed our orders to crispy pata, crispy shrimp, and seafood & corn soup.

    Masarap yung crispy pata, pero nothing extra ordinary about it. Kalasa lang nya yung iba bang crispy pata na mas mura. And yung soup, goddamn that soup, i hated it so much. It tasted horrible! Not exaggerating, btw.

    Total of ₱1,050 kasi may mango shake ako. I thought sana sa Eduardo’s nalang kami kumain, mas mura pa and sobrang sarap pa, de hamak.

    Ughh i hate kuya j’s. Haha

    • Haha! We share the same sentiment. I guess kaya madami pa ring kumakain kasi out of curiosity at ok talaga marketing nila… But siguro yun returning customers ay konti lang.

  • Jean Sta Ana

    Hey. Was about to post the same sentiment on my blog as well. Nothing extraordinary on this resto but the lightings, ambiance? not so cos the branch at SM San Lazaro had an AC unit spitting out water while there are diners around.

    On the food, I must say that it was the most regretfully spent 1,139php of our lives! We ordered these overpriced stuff from their menu:

    – tasteless not crispy bagnet for 375php (my father-in-law cooks a looooot better liempo than what we ordered)
    – Sotanghon Guisado for 175php which is too sweet
    – Garlic rice for 140php, ugh tasted garlic rice from other resto, this is on the bottom of my list. I can even make a better one.

    – Calamares for 180php, this one’s good though. The one that’s impressively prepared among what we ordered. Tastes ok.

    – Lumpia Frito for 160php, had it not for my son. Tastes uh, yeah ok too.

    – the OVERRATED-nothing-on-it Ube Haluhalo for 109php!! Could’ve just bought an ube ice cream pint. Or the one from that Pampanga resto.

    Also, I think the service charge is already distributed on the food charges cos we didn’t see it as an item on our receipt. Deceiving…

    Kuya J’s management must do something about their food. It’s not worth it. We’d rather spend on no-name restos around than here. Definitely not going back.

  • lyn Lej

    we ate at kuya j’s sm cabanatuan branch last night, OMG. we waited for 1 hour kahit may vacant naman na table na ayon sa waiter nakaRESERVE daw.. sinabi ko sa brother ko na sa Max’s na lang kmi since ang tagal tagal naman na. i guess narinig nun isang waiter ayun inayos na nila un table na naakreserve DAW! ang oorderin namin dapat is BULALO, FRIED CHICKEN, not available daw.. hay nako… and nauwi sa KAREKARE, CRISPY PATA, SISIG, PORK BBQ and GARLIC RICE ,

    P1,598.00 LESS Senior Citizen Discount pa yan.. for me not worth it.

    CRISPY PATA- parang ordinary lang mas masarap pa luto ng tatay ko. hahaha! medyo matigas cya un balat not crispy, as i expected sa price nya.

    KAREKARE- parang ordinaryo lang na mas masarap pa un karekare sa karinderya. ahaha! un bagong mapait, i dont know why? we never ask na kasi all the waiters are busy sa iba na nasa waiting.

    SISIG- pwede na. nothing special on it kagaya lang din sya ng iba.

    PORK BBQ- malambot but walang special din na masasabi mong sa KUYA J mo lang matatagpuan..

    Garlic Rice- ahhh mas masarap parin sa Maxs.

    I WILL COMPARE BARRIO FIESTA VS KUYA J?
    i will choose Barrio Fiesta. sa combo nila Kare Kare, Crispy Pata w./ Rice and 1 pilsen iced tea for just P950 pesos only… panalo sila.

    and pls sana kung mabasa to ng management;
    why kayo nagpapahintay sa mga customers kung alam nyo na may nakareserve na and no vacant? at saka kaya pala madami tao kc medyo matagal din ang pagserve. bumabawi lang sila sa staff mabait and naka smile sila lagi.

    rate? 20% lang.

    • Hi Iyn,

      Thanks for the inputs! I’m sure their management are reading this. 🙂

  • Saffi

    I agree…ate there twice….1st by myself and then with my aunt…food are not that extraordinary…

  • Jen De Jesus

    True po, na curious din ako sa kuya j akala po namin masarap nasayang ang pag early Father’s Day celebration. Yung kare-kare nila dinala sa kulay, adobong kangkong buhay pa ang lasa ng suka, tortamg talong nadala sa itlog, crispy shrimp pwede na pero yung serving ang konti Hindi sya worth it sa price nya, lechon kawali natawa kami sa serving nila grabe ang liit, yung roast chicken masarap ya yung mga nabibili sa labas. Kinuha po namin yung salo salo set 2 and 3 we orde pa na 2 pitcher ice tea. Bill namin 2,500. Nanghinayang talaga kami. At least alam na po namin.

  • Star25

    I think a lot of bad comments is in Manila branches of Kuya J. Here in Cebu, Kuya J is one of the most popular to go places of the family. Almost every weekends, the people are lining up. I have tried different crispy pata in different restaurants (Boosog, Lantaw, Jerry’s to name a few) but Kuya J’s crispy pata is really different. Haven’t triend in Manila though. I heard iba ang commissary ng Cebu at Manila (where they get their supply and kung saan tinitimpla ang mga dishes nila)