Get to know Mhel and Ken Ignacio of Certified Foodies

A Disappointing Dinner at Apricot Diner

Over the past year, group-buying sites have sprouted like there’s no tomorrow, providing us with opportunities to dine at a restaurant, pamper ourselves at a spa or salon, and even buy gadgets at very affordable prices, usually at 50% discount. Because of them, more businesses have gained much-needed exposure, especially those that are targeting an already saturated market. And we completely support upcoming businesses or companies, particularly those that have started from humble beginnings. We’re one to give everyone a chance to impress or disappoint us. This time, a restaurant in Caloocan did not just let us down, but completely upset us – Apricot Diner.

Apricot Diner in Caloocan

If you’ve been following our blog, you know we are not snobs when it comes to food and we get easily pleased. However, because we cook at home and we’re so used to the intense flavors of our homemade dishes (not bragging! It’s a fact and we can proudly prove that), we can sometimes be very critical about dishes at a restaurant, especially when the prices are too steep for what they served us. If I’m going to spend over 500 for a buffet or even just one dish, you better serve me something good.

Before I tell you about how our dinner at Apricot Diner went, let me tell you first about how this all started. I saw this deal last year on MetroDeal for 58% discount vouchers from Apricot Diner, who claim to be offering an “Eat-All-You-Can International Fusion Buffet”. As you can see, the photos they used were enticing, which I now think were taken from Google Images or somewhere else.

Apricot Diner deal on Metro Deal

I honestly had doubts because they’re located in Caloocan, but, again, we’re all for supporting restaurants that aren’t that known yet. There might be a gem there somewhere.

So, to clarify this, they were offering Php 600 value of food from their eat-all-you-can buffet for just Php 250. The description had me sold, but I did a little digging first. At that time, there were nothing really substantial written about them yet, so I just crossed my fingers that they’ll deliver to their promise of “… finest foods”. I thought of bringing my 2 best friends with me and Ken so I bought 4 vouchers in total, for a total of Php 1,000.

When August 2011 came when we can finally use the vouchers, a fellow blogger narrated about her bad experience with Apricot Diner. She posted about her experience on her blog in FULL detail. There was even a Twitter war that started after that because the owner, who had his own account, started posting about maarte and demanding customers. As much as I want to go into detail about this (like the mention of Dora, not the explorer), I’d rather focus on OUR experience. So, if you want to read my fellow blogger’s experience, click here. I actually responded to the owner on Twitter and told him that a customer has the right to complain and he has to take their feedback seriously.

Immense array of Asian and intenational dishes

After that incident, I had thoughts of giving away my vouchers to whomever is wiling to give them a chance. Nonetheless,  I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they’d improve after what happened.

Fast forward to January 14, 2012, Saturday. I tried calling for reservations a couple of weeks before, but they didn’t have any buffet schedules, even when on the deal page, they mentioned that they have both lunch and dinner buffet on Fridays til Sundays. And when I finally got a reservation for the 14th, I dragged my nanay along with me, Ken and my BFF Tina so we can visit their place. The vouchers were expiring on February 1st so we just had to use it now while we’re all available.

Before we even got to their location, my companions were trying to convince me to go somewhere else instead. But I said I paid Php 1,000 for the vouchers, which should amount to Php 2,400 (Php 600 value each) in total value, so we should at least give them a chance.

We took a cab going there and the driver overheard me saying I paid Php 600 for each of us. When we reached Apricot Diner, the driver exclaimed, “Php 600?! Dyan na lang tayo sa Red Dragon sa tapat, Php 120 lang, dalawang order na ng masarap na pagkain yun.” (He was saying that for Php 120, we can get more value from Red Dragon, the restaurant in front of the diner). 😀

We all laughed and were having second thoughts about eating at Apricot Dinr because they don’t seem to be offering food worth Php 600. I did my best to convince everyone to stay with me since we might be surprised with their food. They all agreed, and involuntarily went in to the diner.

Now, let me go back to the description on their page:

False advertising and the lies on their description page

(If you want to view the full version of the details on the voucher when I purchased it, click here)

Those I highlighted are what I would now consider FALSE ADVERTISING promises they included on their deal page. Not sure if it was written by Metro Deal or they did so themselves, but spacious?! Even my slim friends will complain about how small their diner is. And where’s the “abundance of new dishes to try”? *sigh* Read on.

Inside Apricot Diner

They said “stylish up-market interior”, right? They look more like a hole-in-the-wall diner. I would’ve been okay with that if they didn’t oversell themselves when they posted that deal. I don’t want to comment on that anymore since I went there for the food with the hopes that they would actually be at least above average for the Php 600 value they were offering.

The spacious Apricot Diner

When we got there, there were no tables available. But, they cleared the one closest to the buffet area. You should’ve seen the disappointment in all our faces when we finally saw the buffet and the food they were serving that night.

Buffet at Apricot Diner

That’s the eat-all-you-can buffet they were offering for Php 600?!?! Are they frigging serious?!?! Yeah, that is exactly what we wanted to exclaim, but we didn’t want to be rude. Yakimix is charging Php 580 (Php 499 on weekdays) for unlimited food at their restaurant, and this is all the food we’d get from Apricot Diner?!

Other food on their buffet

Even after that initial madness, I told my companions to calm down and just try the food to see if, MAYBE, they taste really good, and MAYBE, that’ll make up for everything.

Beef Salpicao, Croquettes, pasta

The verdict? Cold to slightly warm food. The two pasta available were bland. The beef dish was over-the-top salty. The soup wasn’t hot or even warm, not even tasty; too much flour texture-wise. The chicken and the ribs was slightly okay if their sauce wasn’t too ketchup-y to our taste, and if the chicken wasn’t overcooked. Not to mention there were not a lot of choices. They even mixed different dishes in their buffet pans. 😐

One of our plates of food from Apricot Diner

Looks can be deceiving.

By the way, while I was taking photos of the buffet, I sw the owner and asked him for a menu so I can take note of the dishes they were serving. He looked at me blankly and ignored my request. He was refilling one of the buffet pans, so I thought I’d just brush it off since he might be too tired already with all the cooking. Yes, dammit. I was on a very good and forgiving mood that night. 😀

Beef Salpicao, Croquettes, and ribs

We were trying to be respectful, so we finished off our food even after all the disappointment. Ken, who’s usually more blunt between the two of us, tried his best not to say anything. 😀 We didn’t want to waste our time fighting or arguing with the staff since we all were in a happy mood before we got there and we didn’t want to ruin our night. We just exchanged glances while silently laughing and muttering comments. We were trying to be positive, you see. 😀

I teased Ken and my friend Tina that we should get more ribs just so I won’t feel completely bad about spending Php 1,000 for their food. If you’re wondering, I wouldn’t pay Php 250 (the amount I paid for each discounted voucher) for their food there. I’ll gladly add Php 230 and get way better food from Lola Maria’s.

I was so disappointed by the whole experience that I just had to go somewhere else to feel better. We ended up in Trinoma and went to Parvati again (I’ll write about the new desserts we’ve tried next time). While enjoying our much-needed desserts, we laughed at how ridiculous I was to buy those vouchers to eat at Apricot Diner. While we were there, I accessed Apricot Diner’s Facebook page and learned that they were offering a price of Php 300 for the buffet. Are they kidding me?!?!

They were offering Php 300 for the same buffet

So, if you’re going to analyze the whole situation, I was tricked. I only paid Php 250 each for 4 Php 600-value vouchers, and we got the same treatment and amount of food as those who paid Php 300. Good job, Apricot Diner. They should’ve offered a different menu for those who bought the voucher. And, yes, I gave them my vouchers so they’re well aware.

I know, you might be saying that I should’ve said something. But, I didn’t bother. I didn’t want to further piss off myself and my companions. Plus, I knew it wasn’t worth it. I’ve given them enough benefit of the doubt for one night.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m calm even as I’m writing this. I’m upset, yes. But, if you really know me, you’d probably say I’m too kind with this post. 😀 I just had to write about this experience here because, obviously, Apricot Diner (and I mean everyone responsible for running the whole diner) did not take the complaints of my fellow blogger seriously. No improvements were done (maybe except for the clean dishes), especially with the temperature of the food. Who would want to eat cold pasta or soup!? 😐

Because of this experience, I don’t think I’d be buying any more vouchers from Metro Deal. I don’t trust that they screen businesses well enough. Maybe, I’ll try buying from them again, but not anytime soon. It better be a very good deal before I do. I wonder what the other buyers of this particular voucher has to say.

If you’ve reached this page because you want to visit Apricot Diner and you’re looking for a review, I would recommend spending your money elsewhere. If you live somewhere close to their location, yes, sure, it’ll be pretty convenient to go there. But, if you’re after discovering new restaurants and you live somewhere else, in my opinion, it’s not worth all the time, effort and money.

If you’ve been to their Facebook page, you’d see posts from people complimenting them about their food. We all think they’re friends or acquaintances of the Apricot Diner staff. When we were there, diners were mostly students who probably lived nearby, and people who know the owners. I just don’t believe the overly positive comments they’re getting on there, sorry.

The people behind Apricot Diner seem to not care enough to improve their food and service after a bad review (that I think was justified, by the way). And I’m expecting to get a backlash of anonymous comments spewing all sorts of mockery or negativity after this post, but, like them, I don’t care. I don’t even care enough to give them a “Just Okay” rating nor even mention where they’re exactly located. 😐

‘Nuff said. 😐

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Michelle (aka Mhel / blankPixels) is a social media nerd and works as a Digital Marketing Lead for one of the top online companies in the Philippines. On her free time, she travels, goes on food trip and loves to take photos. She's the main editor of this food blog.



  • Lani

    Metrodeal deals are a ripoff most of the time. I bought fractional CO2 laser treatments and their merchant burned my face, on top of asking me an additional P200 over the voucher price, as they said it did not include the lotion which I badly needed to heal my laser scar wounds. Never ever buy metrodeal vouchers unless you know the merchant. Ensogo is way better, and most of their merchants are well known in their respective industries.

  • BJ

    you shouldn’t be too upset i think, since you only paid 250 and not the 600, right? You still had your discount even if the original price is 300 right? You get what you pay for. I just don’t get why you would be so upset about the price that you didn’t really pay. Just my honest opinion though.

    • The value they were offering on Metrodeal was 600 for the price of Php 250. When we finally redeemed the voucher, I found out that their buffet was actually priced at Php 300. If I knew that price and if that was the value they were offering in the first place, I wouldn’t have any expectations about the quality. They tricked us to thinking that they are actually offering a Php 600 value buffet instead of Php 300. Do I really have to spell it out for you to understand?

      It’s like buying an item that was being offered at 50% off on a sale date. You pay Php 500 for it thinking it was valued at Php 1,000. Then a few minutes later finding out that the item was ORIGINALLY priced just about the same price you paid for it – Php 550. You didn’t get an actual 50% off. In short, you were tricked / fooled. Why bother buying discount vouchers if the store / resto won’t deliver to their promise? I think you should read up more about what these group-buying sites are doing ’cause you don’t seem to understand it.

    • lalainedumas

      BJ, the issue here is not just the cost but the misleading texts that the buffet cost was slashed to a whopping (whopping my ass) Php250 from Php600. I think the actual cost is Php300 but Metrodeal exaggerated the discount to entice customers.

      I used to subscribe from Metrodeal, Dealdozen, Ensogo and the like. But like you Mhel, I had a bad experience with these discount companies.

      • Thanks, Lalaine. I’m glad most people understand why I was upset about the experience.

        I haven’t had any problems with Deal Grocer (my #1 group-buying site), Ensogo and Cash Cash Pinoy yet. I’ve had problems with Groupon / Beeconomic. The rest, I haven’t used. But, I’ve heard many horror stories about most of them, which is why I’m particularly wary too.

  • ghie

    oh no! 1001 vouchers sold. dami nman nabiktima nito.

  • Tessa

    HIndi pa ako nakabili sa Metrodeal pero ung friend ko here sa Dagupan mag 2months na ata hindi pa nya nakukuha ung hanger na binila nya. lol. Tsaka mukhang walang effort din ang Metrodeal sa pagpapaganda ng site nila. About this resto, baka awayin ko ung may ari ng resto sa nabili kong voucher na worth P650 pesos. Pababasa ko sa knya ung voucher kung ano nakalagay at kukunin ko opinion nya kung worth it akong kumain sa resto nya..Nakakastress kaya to. Sayang lang ung 1000 pesos talaga. Looking at your photos, mas okay pa yung P169 buffet resto sa may Robinsons Manila.

    • Actually, gusto na namin awayin nung una. Pero we chose to not stress ourselves kasi it’s not worth it. Kaya tawa na lang talaga kami and we went to Parvati after para makabawi.

  • BienB

    LOL Mhel. You were angelic with this one. i would have just written, “They suck. Eat there and be screwed”.

    • I know!! Hahaha if you were there, you’d see us laughing talaga. It was a ridiculous dining experience. @[email protected]

      But, like what I said, we owe it to those who’ll be searching about them to tell them our experience in detail. 🙂

  • Blusher612

    Hi Blank Pixel!

    I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this post.This review is very helpful. I’ve been wary about purchasing from deals, especially with restaurants because I know I won’t get value for my money. Anyway, the buffet area is just horrible! the sight of it makes me barf! I’m so sorry that you were duped by Apricot Diner and their false advertising. I feel for you. After I’ve purchased a not-so-good deal from Metrodeal myself, I’m really cautious about purchasing deals from then on. You’re right, they don’t have the credibility of screening businesses before they publish the deals. And to Apricot Diner, well, what goes around comes around, if you know what I mean!

  • Grace

    Hi everyone,
    I just got out of a mess with MetroDeal. Truth be told, I’m not sure who’s at fault between MetroDeal and Symetrique. What happened was, I bought vouchers from them for Lipo-Cavitation at Symetrique. It clearly said in the ad that 1 voucher = 1 session. But to sum it up, when I called up Symetrique for an appointment, they told me na sorry daw, there must have been a mistake on MetroDeal’s part because 1 session requires 2 vouchers. I purchased 10 vouchers (P199 each) thinking I would undergo the recommended 10 sessions, but as it turns out, because of this important detail that they “forgot” to put on the ad, I was up for something I do not want. They were offering that I buy additional coupons na lang directly from Symetrique, for P199 pa rin. Exclusive daw ito for those who have already purchased sa MetroDeal. Like a consolation of some sort. No fricking way.
    I sent a complaint to MetroDeal. The initial reply was they were “shocked” about this matter and that they will have a “strict” word with Symetrique about this, and that if I wanted to, I could just refund the money. First complaint was on January 2, 2012. I told them sure, I’ll give them my bank details for the refund, but only after they’ve assured me that they’re doing appropriate actions against this deceptive advertisement. Pero wala. I never got any feedback as to what happened with the “strict” word they had with Symetrique.
    To not make this long story longer, I was able to get my refund on January 25, 2012.. A day or two after I forwarded my complaint to DTI (and after a series of pangungulit and a visit to their office–27th floor of Enterprise tower, look for Mark Dela Cruz). I have to commend DTI for not neglecting my email, and for the quick response they made.
    If you have similar complaints, I suggest you send them to [email protected] I only wanted to pursue this reklamo not only because it was taking them too long to return my money, but also because what they did to me was a violation of consumer rights, which I can sue them for. Deception and fraud, I believe, are the proper terms.
    Here’s proof that DTI is not taking our complaints for granted:
    Lesson learned: be careful with group-buying websites. Yun lang.

  • Confidential

    thanks for the warning.

    1 lang nabili ko sa metrodeal dati (chewy jr) buti nalang masarap yun. hehe.
    dami na rin kasi ako nabasa about metrodeal.

  • based on your pics, there were other customers there. did you ask if they also bought from metrodeal and if they’re satisfied with the “international buffet”? truth be told, i know that the chef/owner will take my review lightly, based on his reactions (tweets that are full of lies!) on twitter. he even said that bad publicity is ok with him since it’s still publicity. 

    and true, yang metrodeal na yan basta nakakuha na ng pera wala na pakialam sa customers nila

  • Judd

    Buy only from known establishments.  If you would notice, all pictures are just generic.  For food they use the same pictures over and over again.  For spa, facials also the same ones.  Schedule for facials reach 2 months in advance!

    • The thing is, as food bloggers, we’re supposed to discover those hole-in-the-wall or hidden foodie heaven / places so we go to establishments that aren’t that popular yet. It beats one of the purposes of having a food blog if we’re going to the same known establishments as everyone else.

      Yes, I know they’re generic, but I think that part is Metro Deal’s doing. For spa and facials, other companies/establishments actually provide their own photos to the deals sites. For spas and facials, etc, I don’t trust that easily though.

  • I know exactly how you feel.  Had two fails with metrodeal already! 1. prestige cruise with bland food that looks exactly like that 2. angry bird cupcake which took me a month to claim and they were an utter disappointment.  

    • Yeah, that angry bird cupcake is just ridiculous.

  • Reminds me of my experience with that Prestige Buffet Cruise! I honestly cannot trust MetroDeal! Hehe. And they still haven’t replied to my concerns. Boo.


    • Ayan pa… kaya nga kalowka. I’ll be posting a review on Metro Deal. Will link to your post. 🙂

  • Eeek! Walang improvement, ano ba yan! The last (and only issue) I knew about them was about that with the blogger you mentioned, August 2011 pa yun ha. They never learned their lesson. It’s either they think they are too high and mighty to listen to criticism or they don’t feel guilty at all for their false advertisement, kumita lang ng pera. Sayang lang ang business. 

  • My sister told me that there is an issue going on about Metro Deal–that they do not properly screen the deals they offer??? Have you read about the Angry Birds Cake bought from the same site? ^_^_^ (We were laughing about the look of the cake while feeling annoyed at what happened to that buyer/blogger)

    With regards to the diner/restaurant, what concerned me most was the trickery they made on their price. The original buffet price of 300 was jacked up to 600 pesos (Total value/worth) just to gain the impression of getting a big discount? BAD! Bad indeed!

    Try airing this with Metro Deal, show them you evidence. Especially, the price.

  • Caloocan is just near my place, but I don’t buy vouchers for restos in the area. Nakakatakot na ’cause Metrodeal is quite known to oversell their clients.. >.< There are good restos in Caloocan, but most are serving Chinese cuisine. And props to you Ms. Mhel for still giving Apricot Diner a chance kahit may bad feedback na from a fellow blogger.. 🙂 You are too kind!

    • Well, I really thought they’d change. Like I said, I give people a chance to wow me or completely disappoint me. And in this case, the latter happened. Nakakatawa promise when I look back. :))

  • Taipan157

    Metrodeal fail to answer emails addressed to them, and their phone numbers found elsewhere on the net are not answered either. DO NOT BUY VOUCHERS FROM METRODEAL as you will have no redress. If Metrodeal were a straightforward enterprise they would have a proper grievance procedure and give voucher purchasers a contact phone number.


    • Thanks for the tip. I’ll be writing about Metrodeal on my review blog ( to warn others too. Good thing I never bought any other vouchers from them.

  • Hello! I wouldn’t have the same patience you had that night, goodness!! WTH?!? I know a place that has P250 worth buffet that offers twice as many food which is probably ten times more delicious than what they offered!! Seriously???? The audacity!!! They have the nerve to label it as worth P600?!? If it weren’t so irritating, I’d be laughing my ass off at the sheer absurdity!

    • Hahahahaha. I know!!! They’re so lucky, we were in a VERY good mood. :))

      I guess there’s this part of me who expected that service so we were just laughing at how ridiculous the whole experience was. At least now, there’s another post about them that they  truly suck.

  • Was about to buy those vouchers before, but convinced myself not to because it’s in Caloocan. Nakakaloka naman yang experience na yan. I wonder how long Apricot Diner has been in business. Everything looks so… unprofessional, even their buffet setup. Tipid kung tipid, perfect example of profit-minded instead of quality service.

    • I know, I actually had second thoughts about buying it ’cause it’s in Caloocan, but I thought baka naman maganda and meron na talagang malapit dito na will be worth it. Well, turns out I was dead wrong. :))

      Oo, tipid kung tipid. Apricot Diner and Metrodeal tricked me.

  • ask for a refund Mhel (yun lang credit din ibibigay sayo ng Metrodeal)…  same here, after the cruise na “false advertisement” din di na ko bibili ng voucher sa Metrodeal (kahit gano pa sya kaganda)… Inuubos ko lang yung yung ni refund nilang 1,000 na credit… Hayz!

    • I honestly don’t care anymore since that’ll mean I’d have to buy vouchers from any of the businesses they deal with. I don’t trust them na talaga. Kanila na ang Php 1,000 ko. :))

  • oh no! and i bought 2 vouchers 🙁

    • Don’t bother. It’s not worth it, trust me. Spend your transpo money and time somewhere with decent food.

  • and i searched for those twitter accounts, to check if there were any anti-customer tweets now. 🙂

    Lesson learned for all of us. Thanks for the heads-up. 

    • Hahaha well, I don’t think they’ll lose customers over this since their market are students who usually live within the vicinity. But, at least, they can’t fool anyone else anymore.

  • Pehpot

    nasan si Mhel? Ilabas nyo ang totoong si Mhel! hahaha

    seriously, hats off you you for still trying after the incident with another blogger

    • Hahahahahaha I agree. Hayyy… sabi ko nga dun sa isang group, it’s that side of me who believes in the good in people. I seriously thought na they improved. Kaso wala. :))

      Pero super tawa talaga kami after nyan kaya nabawi namin yung bad trip. Nahipan ata kami ng hangin. :))

  • Nakakaloka ang Apricot Diner! Ang bait mo Mhel, napagtyagaan mo sila…

    • Hahahaha bilog ang buwan nun sis Peachy!! Lahat kami na magkakasama, mga war freaks kami promise when it comes to bad service. Kung bakit nagkataon nung gabing yun, we were all very calm. but, we were laughing talaga as in! Pinagtatawanan nila ako hahahah.

  • popazrael

    mas masarap pa yata yung mga food na served sa mga events na pinupuntahan natin hahhahaa

    • OO HAMAKKKKKK!! Parang ribs and chicken na sinawsaw sa ketchup. :))
      Me tawag nga si Kenneth sa kanila kaso we choose not to post here. LOL

  • After the owner’s yakking about Dora, hats off to you for still trying.

    • Yeah, hahaha. I can’t even believe we didn’t start anything that night considering we’re usually war freaks. Super bad trip pero we just laughed it off. Charge to experience na lang. :))

      BTW, it’s his friend who mentioned about Dora on his tweet. The owner replied lang, but it was like he actually said it din. Thought they did something to improve kaso wala.