Overblown Food hype

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Halal Guys Logo

My wife and I are currently enamored with Frankie’s Buffalo Wings whenever we will eat lunch in Megamall. A couple of stores beside it is occupied by “The Halal Guys” which is another US-based franchise. The queue for The Halal Guys is insane and has been that way since it opened up a few weeks back.

This weekend we had an opportunity to try it given that I have seen some rave reviews from friends in facebook. By opportunity I meant we are not famished yet and the queue is not that long. I queued up for about 20 minutes and ordered the Gyro/Falafel combo for me and my wife. The fare costs around Php470 for the New York size, and it seems a bit normal: two scoops of yellow rice pilaf, a scoop of what seemed to be lettuce salad, a few tablespoons of fresh tomato salsa, a small serving of gyro/lamb meat and 3 falafel medallions. The meat and falafel was then squirted with a white sauce that they are also selling for Php25 per additional packet.

My wife and I made short work of the food, and the verdict is… MEH.

Don’t get me wrong. The food is good but I dont think the price and the wait is worth it. I may not be able to replicate the lamb part but if one is really looking for a similar taste then going to a tex-mex or mediterranean place would do unless you belong to the Moslem religion and really looking for Halal-prepared food. Again this looks like a food hype and will eventually die down when everybody has tried it once.

We are going back to Frankie’s on our next visit. There are a few more flavors that we are really excited to try. And the half-dozen required to satisfy us will cost half of the food we ate from the Halal Guys.

ciao!

Sizzling disappointment

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I am one of the proud to proclaim as a “promdi” (“from the province”) and one of my early memories was when the whole family undertakes a trip to Manila every few years to spend some time in the city during the Christmas season. We would always go to SM City as it was the first huge mall in the country and still spanking new. Daddy will always take us to the basement food court and if we are lucky we can get to watch a live episode of “Kuwarta o Kahon”. We will always order our lunch from the “Sizzling Plate” kiosk which always sports a very long line of waiting customers. I always wait in anticipation as Daddy and Kuya brings in the sizzling plates bearing different meat viands. Daddy always orders the sizzling porterhouse or tenderloin steak which in my young mind was very expensive (around Php35-45 I think).

Fast forward two decades, and I find myself in front of the “Sizzling Plate” kiosk in the SM Taytay food court. Neth is on her 6th day of the General Motors diet so she can only eat beef and vegetables. We were eyeing the tenderloin steak (~Php130) after confirming with the kiosk servers that it is indeed of the beef variety. While I was deciding on what to get, the servers offered their new Christmas sizzling plate: stuffed squid with a piece of pork asado and two pieces of fried bananas plus a small serving of coffee jelly for dessert, all of it for an affordable price of Php125. I like grilled squid so why not?

As sizzling plate orders are always prepared or finished off only after being ordered I waited for a few minutes to get our order. I asked Neth to scout the other kiosks for vegetable viands as she won’t be able to eat the rice that comes with her beef tenderloin order. First to come out was my Christmas plate. The squid was a bit small and orange-y in color but it is definitely stuffed. The pork had some asado sauce poured in it with a few strips of semi-fresh cabbage on top for garnish. I took it to our table as the sizzling plate and drinks was already crowding the tray. When I got back into the counter the sizzling tenderloin was already coming out and I was suprised at how tiny the tenderloin meat was. It was a good thing Neth already ordered one fresh lumpia to augment her meal. I proceeded to our table with the tenderloin and we settled in to have our lunch.

Everything went downhill after the first bite. The squid tasted bland even with the pork stuffing. Neth complained that her tenderloin tasted like it was a few days old and tasteless even with a healthy dollop of gravy. After a few more bites she pushed her sizzling plate away and concentrated on her lumpia. I took a few bites off the tenderloin and it indeed tasted like some leftovers that I have left in the refrigerator for a few days. It was that bad. I manned up and tried to finish my own meal which was an exercise in practicality (hey I paid for that food so it shouldn’t go to waste!) and futility. The pork asado, being served in that tiny portion already, had a large bone. I thought the coffee jelly was going to be the redeeming portion of the meal but I was wrong. I put it down after the first bite which amazed Neth as I rarely waste any served food. I said that it was literally coffee jelly: you can see the separation between what is coffee and what is jelly. She asked for a tiny sample which I obliged. She suddenly went to a Batanguenyo[1] accent saying “Ala e, sa amin ay iniinom lang ang kape. (Ala e, in our place coffee is only being drank) to which I gamely responded in the same accent with “Ala e, sa amin ay tinitimpla muna ang kape at hindi ibinubodbod ng ganyan-ganyan lang (Ala e, in our place coffee is prepared first and not just sprinkled over food just like that)”.

When all has been said and done, both of us agreed that it will be the last time that we would be eating at Sizzling Plate. And there goes a memory that will only remain as such in the near and not-so-near future. What a waste of a good franchise.

[1] Habitants of Batangas which is famous for strong coffee

ciao!

Post Event: The Eraserheads final set concert

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Yesterday we went to the Eheads concert held at Mall of Asia concert grounds. Looking back I am torn between liking and hating the event based on various personal reason.

    The Positive

  • The ticket was free. Technically my wife bought the silver tickets but I didn’t spend a single cent for them. 🙂
  • The energy of a concert crowd, much more a very passionate one, cannot be matched by viewing a recorded video.
  • It was nice to see the ‘heads back again. They already grew old but some of the antics that endeared them are still there.
  • Most of the songs in the set were from the Circus and Cutterpillow albums which IMHO are the best albums they have ever released.
  • The crowd was singing to every song so the fact that the band keeps on changing the lyrics of their songs adds a refreshing twist to the performances. Marcus’ reggae rendition of “Huwag mong itanong” was very entertaining.
  • Since the venue was a reclaimed area, there was a slight breeze that occassionally blows into the crowd area, which alleviates the heat and humidity.

    The Negative

  • The traffic going to MOA was horrible. The traffic when we went home was even worse. Typical of Manila traffic I can’t figure out the cause of such a traffic jam when every vehicle is driving along the same direction.
  • The venue (specifically the silver and bronze sections) was literally filled to capacity. This triggered my utter dislike for places where there are too many people. It is not really agoraphobia but I really, really hate crowded spaces which is why I don’t go to sale events if I can help it.
  • Some people are downright inconsiderate. Two notable examples are the people who smoke with disregard that not all people in the concert are smokers, and those ladies who sit on top of their boyfriend’s shoulders and effectively block the view of those behind them.
  • The stage was too far from where we were that the people in the stage were like an inch tall. We viewed the concert mostly from the large screens placed strategically around the venue. The effect is like viewing everything from a large TV screen.
  • Only the VIP section have seats (or so I thought until Paeng corrected it in the comments 🙂 ). Which effectively killed all the feeling I have on my legs and lower back. The lucky few were able to indian-sit but when I tried that my ankles hurt more.
  • We forgot to buy drinks when we entered the venue and it was neigh impossible to move from our location during the set break. My thirst was already killing me that I found it very hard to enjoy the concert when it resumed.
  • The event was too heavy with advertisements. Streamers and banners are one thing, viral multimedia on the wide screens and speakers are another. There is only so much repetition of ads can the audience take.
  • As a whole, we spent 11 hours for a 2.5 hour concert.

    Personal Notables

  • Organizers and sponsors should really think twice about feeding hosts to a bored mob that has been bombarded by the same set of advertisements for hours. MTV fielded 4 VJs (Anne Curtis, Kat, another female VJ that I don’t know and a guy) and the mob was killing them. Anne was relatively unscathe but the guy bore the brunt of it. I can’t even understand what the guy was reading off his advertisement clipboard due to the boo and hoots coming from the audience. A couple of hecklers on the silver area have even started a chant for him: “Wag kang iiyak” (“Don’t cry”). I almost pitied him but for the fact that my feet are already killing me from waiting 3 hours standing up for the concert to start.
  • Ely Buendia is not the best vocalist when it comes to live perfomances but still an E’heads concert is an E’heads concert.
  • The strain between Ely and Raimund is pretty obvious. Near the end, they had a misunderstanding that was pretty evident especially since there are screens that are devoted to tracking the movement of each band member. Buddy was evidently the mediator of the group.
  • Never ever fight the mob. The woman who sat on her boyfriend’s shoulders learned that the hard way when she tried fighting the jeers of the people whose view she blocked. She made the mistake of rationalizing that she cannot see anything because of her height and she paid for her ticket. Those same reasons applies to the people she is blocking.
  • I was disappointed that Marcus didn’t smash his Hello Kitty guitar. 🙂

All in all, I don’t think I will be going to another standing slot only concert any time soon. But I will always be an Eraserheads fan.

ciao!

Extra Joss: Apple Black Currant

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Among the numerous energy drinks available in the market, the only thing I have tried is the “Extra Joss” brand mainly because of the packaging. It is very convenient as it comes in a sachet that you just add to a cold glass of water.

The last time I drank one was years ago when I had to stay with my mom in the hospital when she had a stroke episode. I would like to think that the energy drink gave me some boost in that week long “endurance” and little sleep. The citrus taste and fizzy texture was a very pleasant experience.

A couple of days ago I saw the TV ad that there were two new flavors: club soda and apple black currant. I have been wimpy and stressed for the previous week and really tired so I bought 3 packs (one of each, including the original) from the convenience store at the ground floor of the office.

The first I tried was the “apple black currant” variant because I don’t know what “club soda” really tastes like. I got a black mug from the pantry and labored with opening the sachet. In the defense of the packaging, this is really stupidity on my part. I saw two dots in the middle that I took as perforation marks so I tried to open it from there. Only after thinking it through was I able to spy the real perforation marks near the corner. 🙂

Back to the preparation, I dunked the contents on the mug and added some cold water from the dispenser. The powder fizzled so I gave it ten seconds to settle down somewhat before drinking. I first tasted apple but it might be because that is the first smell that registered in my brain. About halfway with the drink the bitter taste hit me head-on that I nearly spat the liquids in my mouth. I just swallowed what I already have in my mouth and then inspected the contents of the mug. I was surprised to see that some of the powder was still solid at the bottom. I don’t remember seeing this insolubility before. I added more water and swirled the mug a couple of time to shake things up. When I drank the remaining energy drink the taste was already too diluted but the bitterness was still there.

I am no longer sleepy so the drink must be working, but I don’t think I will try the black currant variant anymore. Once is enough. I am used to drinking black currant flavored drinks (Absolut vodka comes into mind /lol) but I can’t say that they taste bitter. Hopefully the club soda variant is going to give me a better tasting experience.

ciao!

Feedback: CD-R King LSY709 Laptop Cooler

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My laptop developed some problems late 2007 which causes it to freeze regardless if I have Linux or Windows running. I initially thought it has something to do with the installed operating systems but reinstalling various Linux distributions didn’t help. My initial suspect was a heat problem. I turned Lala upside down and proceeded to vacuum the bottom side with the help of a couple of toothpicks to help remove the lint (and two years of use can accumulate a lot of those!).

LSY709 Cooler - Courtesy of CDRKing

Last February I walked by a CDR-King shop and decided to get a laptop cooling pad. The models available are only the slider ones which I don’t want. I wanted something that I can use as a prop stand while doing portable computing in the bed. The only non-slider model they have is the LSY709 so it is the model I got after being assured that it can accommodate a 15 inch laptop. If I remember correctly this peripheral is given a 7-day warranty.

First off, the cooler pad is able to hold Lala but not by much. The laptop is protruding by almost an inch on both sides, and 1.5″ at the hinge side. I don’t think the shop contains any cooler that is bigger so this is not something that can be helped. The pad’s construction is slanted which raises the back portion higher. It also has two plastic “stands” at the top corners that elevates the placed laptop a little further and gives a little air pocket between the pad’s metal surface. Overall the pad still fits in my laptop bag quite comfortably but I am anxious on the bare edges because even if they are smooth they may still rip the padding if placed incorrectly and forcefully,

One thing that is not shown in the site is the view from below so here it is:

The wires are pretty open which can be something to worry since I want to put this in my lap. Fortunately the fans are protected by grills so there is no possibility of my leg skin getting into contact if I place it on my lap while it is in operation. But the wires is still ugly as it is something that looks like what I would have done if I constructed it myself.

This cooler, as can be seen from the image posted in the cdrking site, has three quiet fans in the middle that pulls the heat from the laptop placed on top. Unfortunately my laptop’s bottom vents are on the top portion near the hinge so they don’t really line up. Again this is something that I don’t think can be helped because I reviewed all the cooler pads in the site (at the time) and all of them has the cooler in the middle. I think it is the laptop design (a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pro V7100) that is at fault here. I need to check the other laptops if the placement of the heat vents are in the middle. Nevertheless the air pocket between the laptop bottom and the cooler pad surface is enough to produce a swirling ventilation.

I have used the pad whenever the laptop is in use. The elevation works great especially when I am placing the laptop down on the bed. As everybody who owns a laptop should know (yes Boi, that includes you), putting laptops on top of fabric or paper is not recommendes as they are soft enough to block the vents. The cooler pad gives the laptop enought elevation that even if the fans are blocked, the laptop vents are still free to swirl the air around. I haven’t experienced any lock-ups yet.

Now the bad parts:

  • While the fans are quiet, their output must not be that strong. I can barely feel the airflow when I switch on the fans.
  • The bare metal approach is not comfortable if you put it in your lap. I get dent marks on my legs whenever I forget to put a throw pillow on the edge that touches my skin. The laptops weight (~2.5 kilos) might also have something to do with it.
  • Shabby wiring. As of today, the fans are dead. I think I can see where the wires got damaged and may be able to fix it if I get the time, tools and inclination. Right now this pad is only good for elevation. 🙁

This pad is now due for replacement. Will I get the same model? Probably not. It was a value for what I paid for it but I think there might be something better out there that provides the right balance of price and functionality.

ciao!

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