There are dates that are hard to set and are even harder to happen. My long-postponed lunch with the uninvited, for example, has been sitting on my to-do list for the longest time. Abi lives outside Manila, Kirk has med school to think about and Dai and I have hospital duties to attend on weekdays among other things so up to now, we still haven’t gone to Sunrise Buckets or Wai Ying.
On one hand, there are unplanned and unsure meet-ups and the three people I can depend on in terms of spontaneity, the three people who can say WTF to their schedules and grad school requirements and papers, the three people who don’t mind borrowing money for the sake of not missing out on all the fun, met me for dinner one Saturday evening. And it all started with a text message, “tara sine” (let’s go watch a movie) from Dams.
Meeting place was our beloved Robinson’s Manila and we had to wait for close to 2 hours for Ramm, always the most punctual. When he arrived, none of us felt like watching a film anymore so we just decided to grab late dinner. Our first choice was ChickenCharlie’s along Adriatico street but it was closed since it’s already 11 PM. We ended up at Shawarma Snack Center (SSC) in Salas street.
There are two stores bearing SSCs and I believe they have the same owner. On the left side (when facing Manila Bay), is the two-floor more expensive version while on the right side is a smaller stall similar to a canteen. We could have gone to the latter since I hear the food served there are cheaper but we felt like pampering ourselves so we went to the former.
We stayed on the second floor because the first floor was full of Mediterraneans smoking hookah and we were running away from temptation. Hookahs are expensive and we didn’t bring enough money. Also, we would be boisterous and loud during our meal and we didn’t want the attention of foreigners.
Had a hard time ordering because we are not familiar with the dishes. We tried seeking help from the waitress but she was as clueless as we were. Good thing SSC’s menu had pictures so we just chose based on the way the food looks and the price.
Along Adriatico street, I decided to check out iBread out of nowhere believing that we have time to spare since I saw the “Come in, we’re open” sign at ChickenCharlie’s door and the twos tores are literally just next to each other. However, after we left the premises of the bakery, we were welcomed by the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign. We asked the staff if we can have chicken wings since we missed the place big time and she replied only if we’re willing to have them for take out (which we weren’t). Anyway, we ate the Cinnamon bread Ramm and I bought at iBread and it’s not even that delicious.
Dai had Mint Lemonade (or something like that) and it was so strong a sip is enough to make us feel the burn in our stomachs. Oh, and they don’t have service water. When we asked for one, the waitress said they only have either bottled or faucet water so we were sorta forced to buy the former.
Dams had Chicken Beryani. The long-grained rice was cold and we prefer to eat this carb warm at least. This tasted like mild chicken curry. Dams and I were looking for something strong, something that would make our eyes and nose hurt and our stomachs upset. Something like the one we had in Hong Kong. Good thing the chicken was tender otherwise we would have been disappointed.
While I had the assorted plate composed of kebab, tenderloin (not sure if it was lamb) and chicken. The pita bread should be consumed fast and while still warm because it turns into something hard and inedible after a couple of minutes. Chicken was a bit dry and tasteless, kebab was okay, tenderloin was moist and tender.
The food was not really memorable and our table was huge we felt isolated (we’re a clingy bunch so we moved our chairs close to each other and occupied only half of the furniture haha) so I’ll probably go back to the adjacent, cheaper store if ever I crave for kebab again.
In the middle of our meal, a waitress suddenly appeared between Dams and I and she whispered something we could not comprehend in a voice that made us feel uncomfortable. We asked her to repeat what she said, her question was “Kumain ba kayo ng baboy?” (did you eat pork?). My first thought was fear. Have they suddenly realized that they served us with pork that is double dead and/or infected with some form of disease? Well it’s too late because we have eaten almost half of our orders. Maybe she saw the dumb look on our faces so she asked again, pointing at the stick of yakitori Dams brought from another place “Baboy ba yan?” (is that pork?). We answered no, it was chicken.
She then pointed at the half-eaten cinnamon bread on our table, “Eh ito, may baboy ba?” (how about this one?) Dams and I looked at each other knowingly and answered “no, it’s just bread” while trying to suppress grins. After she left our table, we could no longer contain our emotions and the four of us laughed so hard my tummy hurt. Of course they didn’t serve us pork because SSC is a Halal restaurant and of course it is prohibited inside since their utensils aren’t allowed to even touch pork. Maybe the lady is just scared that she would be fired for allowing customers to eat the banned meat under her nose. What really cracked us up was the waitress asking if the breakd had pork. It’s actually the tone in her voice and our immediate, paranoid reactions that we found funny.
In the past, after the lengthy discussion over money and our bill (because we always try to make the other pay more. haha), we would have gone on a sleepover or shared in one latte and loitered in one of the many coffee shops around Malate. This time, we called it a night and parted ways. After all, Dai and Ramm had a 7 AM class to attend for graduate school, Dams had Biochem lectures to review and I, well, I had my bed to make love to.