It’s a Dip in Ketchup

I’ve never been to a restaurant in this city that gave me a feeling that I’ll never return to it again. Most of the time, even if the food is not that great, I still give it a chance because a. the staff is nice and b. the ambiance is good for long conversations, which I really, really like having when I’m out with my family and friends (esp. the co-Pink Tarha ladies). Newly-opened Ketchup in Tahalia Street is a different story.
When I first saw Ketchup, I was smitten. The red ambiance inside, glowing into the night and into the street where I was standing waiting for my father to pick me up was like a beckoning lighthouse. I was so intrigued I suggested the other ladies to try it out as soon as possible. I guess that suggestion was the biggest mistake I ever made as a PT lady. Blah.

Entering the restaurant was like entering a posh bar in Los Angeles. After all, Ketchup originated there and it’s one of the hippest places after being seen in the series, The Hills. Imagine, celebrity sighting, woot! But that is in Los Angeles. This is Riyadh.

Anyway, when we got upstairs (family section), the receptionist asked if we have a reservation. We told him none (sorry, we didn’t know it was a must). He asked us, quite rudely, to go downstairs again. Er, excuse me? Why go downstairs again when we’re already upstairs? It’s not as if we’ll gonna be kicked out because the place that time was quiet and empty. Then he probably realized what a waste of time it’ll be and he asked us instead to sit in the “bar” area. He went down, not before he gave us a haughty look. Ooohkay… When he returned, he beckoned us to this small table for four near the stairs in the middle of the area. We were disappointed because the sofa and chairs (ergo, the more beautiful setup) near the glass walls overlooking the street are all empty. We wanted to sit there! But of course, we understood because those seats were already reserved. We didn’t reserve after all. What we didn’t understand was that almost all those tables and chairs remained empty the entire time we were there! More on this later.

The interiors and lighting, which attracted me to the restaurant proved to be more beautiful, almost dramatic, inside. I particularly love the Heinz bottles lights dangling from the ceiling.

The white furniture are modern and elegant. The vibe is sophisticated and cool. The red lighting is amazing at first because it is indeed unique in this setting but it got boring and tiring to the eyes after a while. I couldn’t even see the true color of my food. I can seriously feel a migraine coming (even if I haven’t suffered from one, ever).

The restrooms hidden in large tomato structures are cool though, even the bar which is the first to greet us upstairs is inviting. Of course, no liquor available (how many times do I have to tell you that in our resto reviews?! Lol!) On to the food…

Free bread sticks

Fries tossed in parmesan and white truffle oil and Calamari

We started our meal with some fries and squid rings which were both tasty. They were served with some Ketchup on the side. We had high expectations of the glorified condiment. After all, the restaurant is named after it. Hmn, we didn’t find anything extraordinary with the ketchup variants served. That, or maybe our taste buds aren’t so gourmet.

I ordered a chicken dish. Two girl friends followed suit.

Shake N’ Bake, one of their bestsellers
Pistachio-crusted chicken breast, mushroom gravy, garlic mash, sauteed baby vegetables
BBQ Chicken
Ketchup’s original BBQ sauced chicken breast, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled corn
Hawaiian Chicken
With fancy rice, pineapple bits, and baby veggies

Chicken dishes are SR50-SR65 each.

I personally enjoyed my Hawaiian chicken. The white meat was soft and the flavor of the pineapple bits sweetened the viand nicely. It complemented the rice too. Our friends enjoyed their dishes too. The Shake n’ Bake was really unusual. It’s crisp on the outside but the chicken meat inside was very delectable. Eyecandy ordered this:

The Burger, SR52

Eyecandy loved her burger that she’s been cutting the tender Angus beef patty delicately. She still remembers the savory taste up to now.

We also had some refreshing fruity shakes and mocktails.

Strawberry Shake
Mango Orange Shake
Peach Soda
Shakes and special drinks are at SR20+

We were soon liking the place because of our main courses. Ketchup really took the American cuisine (even plain comfort food) to a whole new level. Hmn, except that we’re eating in tables which is way too small for four. Not too comfortable. Our immaculate square plates (very one-of-a-kind I must say) didn’t fit.

Now, time for dessert… the sweetest part of the meal… not in Ketchup! We ordered the banana bread pudding and New York cheesecake. We were so excited to try them when our waiter informed us that he canceled our orders because the chef is giving us a complimentary chocolate cake. We didn’t know what to feel; happy because there’s free dessert or irritated because our waiter suddenly canceled our orders without even asking us. Don’t you think it’s more polite to inform us about the free cake and then first ask us if we want to continue with our order of other desserts than canceling them right away?! Granted that we cannot finish everything in our table, what if we’re doing a review like this and wanted to try other items? And our friend who hosted this dinner (thank you!) wanted to taste the cheesecake badly. We’re so disappointed that even the free fudgy chocolate cake could not salvage this experience.

Add that to the fact that the elegant, beautiful sofa and chair setups remained vacant until we finished our meal. That’s roughly more than two hours, and no one arrived to take their ‘reserved’ seats. We asked for the bill hurriedly and left the place without looking back. We decided to go to Sahara Mall to liven up our spirits.

Don’t get me wrong, Ketchup’s food is delicious but if we only want good food, then we could have gone to other restaurants that offer them at more affordable prices. Sure, this is one posh American franchise but the uptight and sort of discriminatory ambiance ruined the experience for us. Their soft opening stage should not be a reason for this kind of service. It’s all the more reason to put their best foot forward!

The Pink Tarha ladies are simple ladies who just enjoy good food and hearty laughter. We’re not some social climbers who are maarte (different from being kikay 😉 and high-maintenance, and we rarely complain of the restos we’ve featured. After all, we look at the brighter, lighter side of things. If Ketchup is for the higher class, it sure did rub it in (ouch!). Ketchup did re-create the LA social scene vibe, congratulations! Thank you for making us realize that we are not comfortable with that vibe, nor with that kind of crowd. Sigh, I do apologize to my friends for even suggesting we dine in Ketchup. (It’s very important to have friends who are very much fun to be with so you can just ignore the bad experience and still enjoy dinner and the moments in between.)


PS. This dining experience happened a month ago. We hope the resto improved (a lot) since then. Give us your feedback if you’ve eaten here. For those who want to eat in Ketchup, reserve! Maybe they’ll be nicer.

American Food
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The Editor-in-Chief speaks 7 languages: Filipino, English, Wit, Sarcasm, Truth, Creativity, and The Pink Tarha.


  1. i know this discriminatory attitude, i cannot recall but i think waterlemon on thalia had the same attitude. too bad for the bucks we are stuffing into their pockets.

  2. I don&#39;t know if this would give you some insight but I&#39;ll share anyway.<br />Having worked in a restaurant, it is a norm in North America to call ahead for reservations if you are a party or 3 or more. Whether it&#39;s a little casual dining joint to the more posh expensive ones. I guess because Ketchup is an American franchise, they do have protocol and rules to adhere to based on North

  3. Avatar Anonymous Reply

    Sad but real, nationality has its price. Pero you are right for not condoning this type of attitude. Go lang ng go! Fight for our rights… *habang nasa Saudi pa tayo… hehehe… kasi anytime, sisipain din tayo pabalik ng pinas… =)*

  4. Avatar Anonymous Reply

    that kind of experience is exactly what holds me back at times to dine in classy restaurants c0z they tend to be a little discriminatory to race or on how u look..

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