Getting ribbed at a rib-eating tilt

- Lynette Lee Corporal () - May 13, 2004 - 12:00am
It was one big, messy affair. There we were, trying to be prim and proper, like lost girls gathered around a table laden with huge platters filled with huge slabs of barbecued baby back ribs. The men on the other table looked ready to devour their fare at the signal. Plastic bibs, like modern-day armors, fitted snugly on our chests, ready to protect our dresses from the spoils of war. Whoever would end up with the most number of ribs after 10 minutes would be declared the King and Queen of Ribs. Rib-tickling it wasn’t when I was asked to join the rib-eating contest eat-all-you-can promo recently at Tony Roma’s in Glorietta. For one, I’m not really into ribs, and for another, it’s hard to enjoy your food with camera lenses shoved into your face and strangers watching your not-so-poised rib-nibbling.

At the sound of the signal, everybody dipped their fingers into the rib-lined platters, and I must say I wasn’t expecting the baby back ribs to be that juicy and tender… the meat literally fell off the bone at the slight pinch.

For the clueless, ribs are taken from the rib cage and are "generally flat, rectangular slabs or racks." Unlike spareribs that are taken from the pig’s side or belly, or the so-called country-style ribs cut from the loin (they’re meatier than spareribs but contain more fat), baby back ribs are leaner and thinner than the other two. Comforted by the thought that we were gorging on the healthier kind, we went on eating those finger-lickin’ ribs Dark Ages-style. The contestants at our table all agreed in between bites that, hey, the ribs were really good – smoky-flavored and coated with just enough sweetish barbecue sauce.

According to Tony Roma’s general manager Rosa Eugenio, the rib-eating competition was part of the restaurant’s Endless Slab promotion, ongoing until June 15. For just P595, you can have your fill – all-you-can-eat – of Tony Roma’s famous grilled pork ribs. Either you choose the baby back ribs or any of their St. Louis-style ribs, namely Original Baby Backs, Carolina Honeys, Blue Ridge Smokies or Tony Roma’s Red Hots. The deal is you’ll be served a regular slab of ribs with two side dishes. When you are done with your slab, all you have to do is request for another serving and the staff would only be too happy to oblige. Sharing is not allowed, so you have to be really hungry if you want to make the most of the promo. Either that or you’ve decided to become a strict vegetarian and availing of the Endless Slab promo is your way of bidding adieu to your meat-eating days. Also, make sure you wipe your plate clean (except for the bones, of course) for "no leftover" is the rule or else… You don’t have to fear about choking, too, as the promo offers an unlimited refill of Lipton Iced Tea for P66.

The Endless Slab promo was launched simultaneously in Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok and Sydney in Tony Roma’s outlets. There are currently 14 Tony Roma’s outlets worldwide under the Mas Millennium franchise.

By the time all these bits of information sunk in, we were halfway through the first slab. The corn on the cob and coleslaw side dishes were totally ignored and the glass of iced tea that came with the platter of ribs was a lifesaver. After five minutes, most of the girls at the table were done with their first slab and were raring to get their hands on the second. Rib by rib, we smacked our lips, bit into the tender flesh, chewed easily, and savored the whole lot while the small pile of bones rose steadily on the table. When the signal to stop came, we wanted to go on nibbling. Well, I ended up with just 12 bones, two ribs shy of the top winner from Ayala Land. The crowns for the King and Queen of Ribs were kinda cute – made of dried ribs painted in silver. The winners actually reminded me of Bedrock’s Pebbles and Bambam of The Flintstones fame. Good thing nobody yelled "Yabba-dabba-doo!"
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The Endless Slab promo at Tony Roma’s is ongoing until June 15. For more information, call 757-1926 or fax 757-1928. Log on to www.tonyromas-mms.com.
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