Rib it up

RAVIN’ FACTS - Jennifer Ong () - June 19, 2008 - 12:00am

It was evening and I was all set to meet with the king of ribs. He was every bit vigilant and I was every bit hungry. And when I dared to mention that there are now many restaurants offering roasted stacks of ribs, he boldly proclaimed, “Only one place makes the best ribs!”  I fell into silence and realized that nobody messes with this rib king and his Racks.

Leo “Chukri” Prieto III has not always held the Racks rib throne. But once his family’s company, Cavallino Inc., took over the restaurant’s ownership, he quickly became its fierce managing director.

Outside and inside, things are pretty much the same. The restaurant’s classic white-painted exterior with lots of glass windows remains. Inside, there are huge tables, huge platters, and huge rounds of laughter.

For his new food kingdom, the king turned the menu into something that’s leaner and meaner. If it doesn’t make you hungry, then it has to go. The sandwiches had to go. The classics stayed, meaning the ribs and the sauce. 

The Racks ribs are, as always, moist and tender. You can have a slab of Racks’ Classic Pork Ribs, which are meant to be lean but juicy with a bit of fat. There are also the baby back ribs for a much leaner cut. And for something a bit heftier, there are the smoky beef ribs. Try these ribs with the sauce, and rib it up!

The Racks original barbecue sauce is a secret formula concocted by its original owner. Bottled and placed on every table, there’s the regular or extra hot sauce. Take the latter if you want more than just an extra kick.

Then there’s the Racks corn bread, which you either eat at the beginning of your meal or wipe your plate clean with.

But as the rib king will tell you, Racks is not just about ribs. It also serves fried chicken. Its country-style chicken is moist and crisp, and served with gravy and chunky, thick-cut Belgian fries. But if you like your chicken smoked rather than fried, you might want some of Racks’ hickory smoked chicken. And yes, you will definitely want this with a lot of extra-special barbecue sauce.

Now, if there are ribs, sauce and chicken, there must also be side. The king and his cousin have come up with some too-good-to-pass-on side orders that you can choose from. You’ll love the potato salad made with sliced marbled potatoes kept in their skins and tossed with a creamy zesty dressing, or the pasta salad tossed with some bell peppers in a light creamy dressing and served cold, or the mashed potatoes blended with either garlic or wasabi.

For a starter, the king of ribs can’t think of anyone who would not love his chunky, creamy clam chowder. Then there’s the rib king’s favorite, the house salad, fresh and crisp, with romaine lettuce grown right on his family’s Toscana Farms. It’s mixed with some apples, carrots and sugar-coated pili nuts, then tossed into a fruity raspberry vinaigrette. 

Now, if most of his meats are for roasting, the king believes the seafood must fry. Its fish ’n’ chips are batter-fried London style and served with a huge pile of chunky fries and malt vinegar. The pan-fried dory with lemon garlic butter is good and zesty with salad or soup and fries or rice. And how about some Maryland crab cakes? Enjoy your crab cakes as appetizer or a full meal.

Of course, the rib king saved the sweetest for last. Its fudgy Mississippi mud pie will make you forget how to spell Mississippi. Good and decadent, this hot fudge brownie comes under a mound of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, topped with chocolate syrup.

The king also never skips breakfast, served every day from 7 to 10 a.m. at Racks El Pueblo branch while it’s served every weekend at Racks Magallanes and Greenhills.

 The Racks Benedict features poached eggs with Racks’ crispy rib flakes smothered with creamy hollandaise sauce in  Racks’ garlic bread roll. You can also try Racks’ rib flakes plate, which comes with sunny-side up or scrambled eggs plus slices of Racks’ famous corn bread or some garlic rice. You can also have Racks’ country sausage or rib flakes with some French toast. Racks also serves fluffy three-egg omelets, such as mushroom, ham, and cheese, and Spanish omelets that are also served with Racks’ famous corn bread. All these breakfast plates come with a cup of brewed coffee plus a free refill.

Long rib the king!

* * *

Visit Racks at El Pueblo, Ortigas; Paseo de Magallanes, Makati; and Connecticut Carpark, Greenhills. Magallanes and El Pueblo branches also deliver with a minimum order of P300. Call 854-6622 for Racks Magallanes and 632-1458 for Racks El Pueblo. Racks is also set to open soon at Festival Supermall and SM Mall of Asia.

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