By tomorrow, it’ll be 20 days since my last post, and I’ll have been back in Manila for 5. As I’ve gotten older, jet lag has become harder to bounce back from, so I’ve been drifting between sleep and wakefulness at atypical hours. Aside from wishing I were still somewhere else, experiencing new things every day, I came home to a city that’s just about to take a break for the Holy Week. Things are moving slowly, and there’s no urgency to be productive just yet.
BUT what’s to stop me from trying new things just because I’m back home? Rhetorical. So, today I met up with friends at the recently opened Corner Market at the Podium mall (which is still undergoing renovations and looking more promising by the day). Just like the food hall at SM Aura, it has a very casual, communal table setup surrounded by an array of vendors that offer everything from finger chow and mains to desserts. I got there a few minutes before it opened at 11:00 am, giving me a chance to survey the place while it was empty. The place was nice and airy, with tall glass windows running along one side of the wall. I’m relieved that mall developers are starting to have more windows, because the old box ones were so suffocating!
Some stalls were still under construction, and the ones that were prepping for a day of service put up signs that read “soft opening.” As a customer, that’s my cue to manage my expectations, and be a little more understanding of these newly opened businesses. After one lap around the premises, I eyed two places that dished out seafood fare. Next thing I knew, the place had filled up within minutes.
When Macy and Patty got there, I ordered the spicy tuna black sushi from Inari by Hamaru, although I really wanted to try the grub the brand was named for: the Inari, a rice-and-goodies-filled tofu pocket. Decided against it, because I was also really curious about Cold Storage‘s Catch of the Day, which is cooked on the grill behind a glass panel right when you select your meal. Macy tried the honey butter fried chicken sandwich, with a side of elote (Mexican grilled corn), from Birdhouse, one of the more popular hawkers at today’s lunch. Pats got a carnita from La Taqueria del El Chupacabra, and a seared maki black sushi also from Inari.
I was quite pleased with both my choices. I didn’t expect the black sushi rice to mimic Japanese rice so closely, both in texture and flavor, as that rice variant usually has a bit more bite than the regular white; but for the price, it satisfied a sushi craving despite the size of tuna in the roll. AND, their wasabi is legit. I love wasabi.
As for my yellowfin (did it say yellowtail on the menu?) it was cooked perfectly. When the tray was handed to me, I was initially disappointed when the fish was served skin side up, but when I flipped it over and saw the awesome sear, I knew all was not lost. When I dug my fork into it, it was flaky but juicy and just paired so well with the soy glaze on the side, which I assume it was also basted with. The veggies were no ordinary chop suey either, with flat beans, cauliflower, and broccoli; and because a Filipino meal is never complete without it, it came with steamed (Japanese) rice.
There are so many other choices at the food hall that I can’t wait to try next time. Glimpsing at their menus, I saw that most of them had reasonable prices; and glancing around at everyone else’s plates, they looked like value for money. They were not only appetizing, they also gave generous servings. Curious what other stalls are opening, and really impressed at the variety of cuisines all in one place. When the hype settles, it’d be a really good time to come back.
The Herbal Way
After lunch, we hopped over to the neighboring mall for kiddo’s Time Zone
request demand, and Bee Choo Origin, a hair studio I’d been recommended. Most of my friends know that I keep my hair short because 1. I rock it (lol) 2. it’s low maintenance, and 3. I have really thin strands combined with just a really small amount of hair on my head (and rest of the body, tmi?) so growing it makes it flat and I look sickly. A girlfriend who had hair fall issues got her scalp analyzed by this place, got her 1st treatment done, and absolutely swears by it now. She claims she’s had less falling hair, no recurrences of dandruff, and that her head just felt healthier overall. I am willing to give anything (within my means) a try at this point, so there I went.
I’d placed a call and reservation the day before, so I knew what treatment I wanted to get; otherwise we’d have started with a short consultation. They sat me down and swathed me in leak-proof garment and towel, and then began to apply a warm, mud-like mixture on my scalp and hair, much like applying color, but with special attention to the roots. It had a strong smell that I couldn’t put my finger on, but it reminded me of licorice, turmeric, and the soil in the forests. I strangely liked it, which was just as well, because it lingered well into the evening. Macy laughed when the 1st thing I said was it smelled like ulam, so maybe it’s not for everyone. ?
When it fully covered my scalp, they wrapped it in plastic, and then put a headband around it to avoid leakage. Then, since I’d never had any treatments done in my life, it was my 1st time to try the head steamers! They kept it on for about an hour, I forgot to track the time; but after that, they just rinsed off the crusty residue, shampooed and conditioned using more of their herbal products, then blow dried my hair. From start to finish, it took about 1.5 hours, but that’s because I have short hair. Also because of my length, they only used 1 cup of the product, and the whole treatment cost P1390.
It felt immediately bouncier, but time will tell if it decreases my hair fall or even stimulates more growth. My premature white hairs also turned a sort of copper, because one of the herbs acted like a natural dye. So now, I leave you with an annoying pabebe shot, my hand on my strap because it was starting to come apart and I have very little patience for repeating selfies.
Had to take one though to document it right after treatment, and fingers crossed by my next selfie, I’ll have a luscious crown of hair. Way to manage expectations, maybe it should’ve come with a soft opening sign.
P.S. Again, I’m procrastinating writing about my recent trip. I always want to write such awesome memoirs that I end up not writing them at all. Will work on them this week!
P.P.S. It’s 1:48 am and I. Am. Still. Awake. ?