Dec 28, 2005

Ichiban and Goto de Caliraya

I've been an unofficial food/restaurant reviewer for the longest time. Friends know that when I like something I tried, I go all-out telling the world to go try it. And when I hate it, I also go all- out telling people to avoid it. So here goes, my first written food review, to tell you what I've lately found to be OK, and also what I found worth my okray (in English, lambasting). :)

OK: Ichiban :)

Located at the west wing of the foodcourt of SM Southmall, the store must have just opened recently (that, or I've not been going to that mall often... hehehe). On their menu are Japanese resto staples: tempura, teppanyaki, buri and yaki. I went for Ebi Tempura Bento (shrimp tempura meal, sold at P99.00), expecting the fare one usually gets from Tokyo Tokyo.

Well, I had a pleasant surprise. Not only did the food look better (I give points for presentation...hehehe), all three items on my bento box (tempura, sauteed mongo sprouts and rice) tasted better than those in Tokyo Tokyo. (They had a home-cooked feel to them; and the quality approximates that of Teriyaki Boy, which is priced higher.) What's more, the shrimps were bigger, and the serving, larger (4 pieces vs. 3 at Tokyo Tokyo). The only thing I found wanting was the tempura dipping sauce, which, in my opinion, needs a little more grated ginger. :)

If and when I go to Southmall again I will definitely get their 6-piece ebi tempura (no rice), which sells for P115.00, and probably try their teppanyaki. And yakitori. And soba. Hahaha.

Okray : Goto de Caliraya :(

This quaint eatery's in Chrysanthemum Village (in San Pedro, Laguna), so I suppose this part of my review will only concern you if 1) you're from the area or 2) you like travelling great distances and trying quaint eateries. :) Anyhow...

Goto de Caliraya started in the late 80s, first getting attention for its hot, tasty goto (congee with ox tripe) but later blooming and adding home-cooked Filipino dishes like Kare-Kare and Bulalo to its menu. Service is by point-point [turo-turo ;) ], and you either enjoy your meal on garden chairs under their shady trees or you have it packed to take home.

It's a little more pricey than the other point-points in the area, yet the place is often busy and packed, owing to the home-cooked goodness of the food, the cleanliness of the place, and well, perhaps, the "ambience".

This afternoon Mike and I had late lunch there, ordering Ginisang Upo, Ginataang Tambakol, and Bicol Express. I found those okay, what I didn't like was the steamed rice.

To me it looked, smelled and tasted like it was in the early stages of spoilage. The grains were moist and soggy. Mike said it wasn't panis, just that they used mumurahing bigas. (Two translations: cheap rice, or rice you can curse!)

Well, I don't care about their cost-cutting measures. I paid for good, edible rice and I expect good, edible rice. What's more, business logic dictates you serve good rice so that customers eat more (more sales) and enjoy their meal more (customer retention). If costs are rising, to serve at the same level of quality you can increase your price, or cut down on quantity. I can't get it why they have to serve bad rice! (And yes, to answer your question, I take MBA seriously. hehehe.)

I didn't have the energy to raise hell about my cup of bad rice. (Normally I speak up and at the minimum, send objectionable food back to the kitchen.) In this case I just lost my appetite altogether and we just left, Mike assuaging me with a promise to have salad at Pancake House.

Well, on hindsight, can you imagine what spectacle it would have been, me, hands on hips, lecturing the turo-turo staff about the business repercussions of them serving bad rice? That would have been one for the books. :)

At any rate, in case you're wondering, no, I don't plan on coming back there. And yes, if the almost-spoiled-rice is any indication, their food stinks.