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On to the next chapter

Rejection stings as it makes you feel you are not good enough. But it also humbles you and makes you go back to your reality after imagining into different alternate universes.

I deferred taking my exams this year. I can’t focus. I have been picking up all kinds of ideas so I can procrastinate: learning a new language, taking up new work, planning for different travels, entertaining guys I shouldn’t, hoping for somebody to like me back, involving myself into somebody else’s life changing milestones etc etc. It’s midyear but I haven’t been focused still.

The beauty in all these though is that I’m still in my own mind. I still know what I’m doing. I still understand that if I continue on this road, I would hate myself in the future.

So what if I was rejected? I have other things to work on. I’m still me. I just have to refocus. And remind myself who I want to be.

Mendokoro Ramenba

It was a “I want Ramen” kind of night. I was very tired and I had the urge to try Mendokoro Ramenba. My work is walking distance to this Ramen restaurant, so why not try it tonight?

When I got to Mendokoro Ramenba, there was a lengthy line already. It was a Saturday night (21:30) but there was still a significant line. The drill was: order, pay, wait to be seated, eat and go.

When I went inside, I ordered and I was queued 297 and they were currently serving 167. I was told that they can sit me easily because I only need “a” seat. That’s a relief! After twenty minutes, I was seated.

I had the following:

Shoyu

Php 410

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Mendokoro Ramenba’s shoyu is very tasty. It was expected to be salty because it’s shoyu. Noodles’ texture and firmness were excellent. I was not able to appreciate the egg and chasu at the moment because it was soaked in the broth.

Extra Chashu

Php 140

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If you tasted only one piece of chashu, it was heaven. But when you try to chuck three chashus and another one from your ramen, it would be too much. After I finished four chashus, I really felt full and unhealthy. Again, warning, share this with friends. Do not consume alone.

Gyoza

Php 120

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Mendokoro Ramenba’s gyoza might be the best gyoza I have tasted here in the Philippines. The gyoza wrapper was smooth, delicate and light. It was oily (of course) but the wrapper really did wonders in my palate.

I also had tamago (Php 90). I loved it. It was at its best when not soaked in the shoyu’s broth.

Not being biased on the fact that I was seated really fast, all the staff were efficient when I was there. I did not see my glass of water empty at all. They kept on refilling it once they saw it. The restroom was clean when I was there.

Will I come back to Mendokoro Ramenba anytime soon? I will not come back soon. Maybe I’ll eat here once a year. I prefer broths that are not too tasty. But I might take out the gyoza, if possible.

Additional tips:

  1. Ask for their special menu.
  2. Go to Mendokoro Ramenba at least 30 minutes before it opens specially if your a big group. Do not expect to be seated together. Or eat alone.
  3. Pace yourself and do not order like there’s no tomorrow like I did.

 

Review: 5/10

Mendokoro Ramenba
Ground Floor, V Corporate Center, Soliman Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.
(02) 478 9625 (but they do not accept reservations)
Open everyday 11:00 – 00:00

Manam BGC

I had a number of dinner experiences at Manam Greenbelt with my friends before. With those meals, I have decided to introduce my family to Manam also.

We went to Manam BGC for my mother’s birthday celebration. Since it was already around 3pm, we were seated after a few minutes. In a normal lunch or dining time in Manam Greenbelt, I would have to wait for more than 20 minutes to be seated. Also, I cannot be seated without having at least 50% of the number of people to dine.

Here are what we ordered:

Ensaladang Kamatis
Medium Php 230.00

You can skip this. I just craved for kesong put that was why I ordered this. I ended up eating all this because my family did not appreciate this appetizer.

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Crunchy Salt and Pepper Squid Rings
Medium (good for 3) Php 280.00

This was okay. My family finish this. However, it was nothing special and I will not order this again. This was quite spicy.

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Gising- gising
Medium Php 205.00

When I tasted this before in Greenbelt, I was delighted because it was something new. This time it was quite salty. We did not finish the whole dish.

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Sizzling Corned Beef Belly Kansi
Medium Php 495.00

I liked this. It was creamy and a little acidic/ sour at the same time. Be careful because this is very hot. My family enjoyed this.

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Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon – Twist
Medium Php 455.00

This was the highlight of our late lunch. My family absolutely loved this. I hyped this meal to them so much that they dug in without me having a photo of this first. Every time that I eat in Manam, I order this. I love sour and acidic food. This is a staple Manam. Order this!

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Overloaded Garlicky Chicken and Pork Belly Adobo – Twist
Medium Php 355.00

It was supposed to be delightful because of all the garlic. But sadly, the pork here was not fresh. Skip this.

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Gata leche flan
Small Php 95.00

We did not like this on the first bite. After 3 – 4 spoons, it became so-so. I will not order this again.

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Namnam Halo-halo
Php 165.00

Another okay. If you’re craving for something sweet, go for this one.

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Mais Con Hielo Con Queso
Php 125.00

Tasted like your mother’s mais con yelo recipe. Ingredients were fresh from the can.

Basically, if you want dessert, go somewhere else.

Camias and Lemongrass
Php 105.00

This is acceptable. I wanted something sour remember?

Mango, Pomelo, Coconut Cream and Sago
Php 120.00

I was not able to taste this but my sister said that it was okay.

Meal orders have these sizes:
Small – good for 1 person
Medium – good for 3 persons
Large – good for 6 persons

Even if there were a lot of misses in this late lunch, I will still go back to Manam for the Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon – Twist. That was how good it was. At the same time, this meal was affordable. We spent Php 3,262.41. There was a 10% service charge already included in that amount. Servers are dependable and efficient.

Review: 5/10

Manam
G/F Net Park Bldg., 4th Ave, in between 26th & 28th St, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
M-F: 10AM-10PM; Sa-Su: 11AM-10PM

Toasted Mamon

Matapos ng limang taon
Meroon na namang pagkakataon
Puso ko’y maaalis sa pagkakakahon.

Kaso lamang, limang taon
Ang tanda ko sa batang iyon
Pag-iisip namin, magkaibang bersyon
At ako lang ang may emosyon.

Pero kahit na ganoon,
Gamitin ko ang imahinasyon
Masayang isiping pwede maging mag-on
Binigyan nya kasi ako ng toasted mamon.

Tor Road Steak Aoyama (Kobe, Japan)

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We went to Kobe, Japan for one main reason: to eat Kobe beef. Ira searched on top recommendations (based on taste, service and affordability) on where to eat Kobe beef. She found out that Tor Road Steak Aoyama ranks first in TripAdvisor; thus, we went all the way from Osaka to Kobe. It is very important though to have a reservation (via Facebook or call). Walk ins might not be entertained. So if you are going to Kobe just to eat in Tor Road Steak Aoyama, I strongly suggest to have a reservation.

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Sannomiya Station: a good 10 – 20 minute walk to Steak Aoyama

Early morning, we rode a Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kobe. We ended up in Sannomiya station which is a perfect 10 minute walk to Steak Aoyama. Google maps and HyperDia are very useful in our whole stay in Japan. Anyway, we got there by 0830 and our reservations is not until 1200. Thus, we had time to go around the neighborhood. We tried finding Kondetorei Kobe which was about 15-20 minute walk from Tor Road Steak Aoyama but they were temporarily closed at the time.

We returned to Tor Road Steak Aoyama by 1130. They were already open and were preparing but they asked us to come back at exactly 1200.

When we entered the restaurant, we felt the hospitality of the whole family making the business work.  They are so passionate with what they were doing that they value the quality of service for every customer; thus, they avoid accepting a lot of customers. They even turned walk ins away. I appreciate it that the owners put customers’ overall experience over income.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s Kitchen. You can see the chef and his parents.

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About 8 persons can be seated at a time. At the time we went there, there were 3 locals, 3 Chinese and 2 Filipino (us) customers.

Once seated, we were immediately accommodated by the mother. She told us about how long they have been running their business (since 1963) and where they get their ingredients. The mother told us that the ingredients are all ordered from trusted different stores/ family businesses within the area. Like Steak Aoyama, these suppliers have been in business for generations.

The set up in the dining table was like this:

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Everything had been very efficient. The mother and the father had been setting up the place while the chef son was prepping up for his performance. We were also presented with the menu which is quite limited for lunch. We did went for a lunch appointment because it is cheaper. For that day, we had this lunch set:

cofThis was about 5,100 Yen with service charge; thus we paid 5,508 Yen separately. This included sashimi and salad appetizer, soup, kobe beef, rice or bread (we had rice), and coffee or tea (coffee for us). Ira attempted to order the only wagyu beef set because it only costs about 3,000 Yen. We then asked the chef the difference between wagyu beef and kobe beef. He exclaimed: PRICE. Apparently, kobe beef is a subtype of wagyu beef. Kobe beef is more juicy, softer and tastier according to the chef. And again, more expensive. We were not able to try wagyu beef so we can’t really attest to that. So I guess we just believed the chef and Ira continued to order the kobe set.

Appetizer. There were different sashimi here but were unremarkable. The salad’s dressing was amazing. That gave me the kick for this whole meal.

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Steak Aoyama appetizer: sashimi and salad

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s appetizer: a different view of the salad and sashimi plate

Soup. The cream soup seemed unappealing. It was very simple but the taste was something I haven’t tasted before. It was light and uplifting. There was no strong taste.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s cream soup

Rice. We were given an option on whether to have rice or bread. Of course, we went for rice. The mother even showed us the company supplying them the rice. They are very proud of the rice that they have been offering customers for decades. True enough, this was the best rice I ever had. I’m not really sure if I was just eating cheap rice in the Philippines or if the rice in Japan was really different. All I can say is that the rice I tasted in Tor Road Steak Aoyama can stand on its own. This did not even need any dish to be partnered of. I could live with this rice my whole life; it was that good.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s one of a kind rice

Kobe Steak. The star of our lunch is definitely the kobe beef. The chef showed us the beef before cooking them. While the chef was cooking, he was also entertaining us and trying to make small talk. He was accommodating in a lot of ways but he mainly talked to the locals in their language.

This whole plate would be divided to Ira and I. We asked for medium rare and that was what we got.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s kobe beef

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s kobe beef. Appreciate the marbling!

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s medium rare kobe beef

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s medium rare kobe beef. My photo did not do justice on how good these beef were.

I have my favorites in the Philippines when it comes to steak but I really shouldn’t compare because they are of different categories. You know how tasty  and tender Mamou’s Dry Aged USDA Prime Grade Bone-in Ribeye Steak and 28 Day Dry Aged USDA Prime Grade Porterhouse Steak? Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s kobe beef was very different from that. This was a hundred times tastier (but not salty) and a thousand times more tender. When I read about kobe beef that it will melt in your mouth, I really thought that it was an exaggeration. After tasting Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s kobe beef, I did not need to chew the beef. It dismantled on it’s own inside my mouth. Maybe that was what they meant with it melts in the mouth kind of beef.

One parameter for me to say that a beef is really tender is if the beef does not find way to strangle itself within my braces (brackets and wires). Sorry for the imaginary picture of beef strands between braces but that is my mark if a beef is really soft. Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s kobe beef is that kind of beef. You wouldn’t have to find a tooth pick or floss while or after eating here.

When the kobe beef was served, Ira and I were not talking at all. Out of respect to the chef and food offered to us, conversing was not a part of our plan while eating here. We wanted to enjoy every moment specially when the kobe beef was on our plate. It was very normal of me to talk and then eat for a very long time but this time I did not talk but still ate for a length of time. I enjoyed every piece of kobe beef. Another exaggeration, I closed my eyes while taking in each piece. I did not care what the chef or other guests would think about me but when every piece was inside my mouth, my mind automatically tapped an orchestra and played a celebratory music!

We were told to first taste the kobe beef without using the condiments at the side and then try to lightly dip the succeeding pieces on those condiments. But I’m not a fan of using condiments and I just tasted those with my spoon and did not try dipping my kobe beef pieces at all. I always wanted to eat food appreciating their own flavor without anything else.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s condiments for the beef: Ponzu sauce with radish and Himalayan sea salt. I love the ponzu sauce with radish. I wanted to drink it and ask for more.

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Look at us; happy with our kobe beef! The Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s chef was cool enough to take our photo.

Coffee. Since I was taking my time with my kobe beef, I did not notice that everybody else was done with their lunch and was taking their coffee/ tea already.  After the meal, we were escorted at the other tables for coffee. We were also asked if we wanted coffee or tea and we got coffee. I forgot which company supplied the coffee but this coffee was excellent! It was not as strong as Toby’s Estate but this was definitely at the level of seriously good tasting coffee. The mother also gave us a postcard showing us where we can go in Kobe. This was a really nice token.

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Tor Road Steak Aoyama thought about their branding really well. See the napkin at the side. Good job on that.

After paying, we asked the family on where we can eat cheesecake. They really thought hard on where they can refer us but the mother said that there are a number of shops that offer desserts but they couldn’t really say where because they were not very good. I like her honesty.

I am satisfied with my first kobe beef experience. I have no other kobe beef experiences yet to compare but Tor Road Steak Aoyama’s experience completed my Japan 2017 trip.

GRADE: 8/10

Will I be a regular here? I will be coming back to Tor Road Steak Aoyama if I’m in Japan. And I will bring my family with me.

Information on Tor Road Steak Aoyama:
STEAK AOYAMA
Yubinbango 650-0011, Chuo-ku, Kobe Shimoyamatedori 2-Chome, 14-5 0120-864858
Tel and Fax: 078-391-4858
Regular holiday every Wednesday (the next in the case of a public holiday Thursday)
Hours: 12:00 – 21:00
https://www.facebook.com/steakaoyama
http://www.steakaoyama.com

OT not OK

It has been a habit in this clinic that employees would go overtime. Staff’s overtime are paid. Dentists’ overtime are not paid. My boss reasoning for not paying my services after work hours: I get 10% commission. Bull shit. Rendering overtime is not acceptable. Unpaid overtime is exploitation.

I have been working since 7am today and I haven’t slept yet. Our clinic opens at 9am. This means my 7am-9am is also unpaid. The secretary says to not be that greedy and just let these unpaid hours slide. What a loyal employee!

I’m tired but I can’t complain. My boss would frown if I express my distaste with this kind of exploitation. Why am I afraid? If I don’t willingly offer my time and services for free, I will not get full mouth patients in the future. I will not earn. My hands are tied.

The staff is happy. They get paid for waiting for the patient and they get a Php 500 tip from the patient for doing nothing. I can’t think of helping the staff get additional tip today. I’m tired. I need MY time for myself and my love ones after work hours — after 6pm. If my boss needs MY time for the clinic, she has to be decent and pay accordingly. I want to sleep.

But yes, I do have a choice. I handed my boss the privilege to exploit me. This is my fault. And I’m eating my heart out because I’m allowing this. I created my own problem. And I’m tired. This is not okay.