Today was supposed to be the long-awaited (at least by me) venture into Gravy Fix, at the heart of the Burgundy Tower. However, due to a lack of support from my financially-behind friends, I was forced to look for a less frilly establishment that would be easier on the wallet. Boy, did I find it. Today’s restaurant on the chopping block is Ming’s Tapsilogan, the carinderia located across the street from the back entrance of Burgundy Tower. I’ll admit, I did not have high hopes coming into this. Let’s see how it plays out.
- Sinigang – P35
- Tapsilog – P50
- Tortang Talong- P20
- Isaw/Tenga – P5
If I could sum up my experience at Ming’s in a phrase, it would be: “You get what you paid for”. The restaurant attempts to embody a street-side canteen environment, most probably out of necessity, and passes that test with flying colors. Unfortunately, that’s not really a good thing. The entire area was exceedingly dark, save for the few tables out in the scorching sun. The tables and chairs were rickety, unstable, and uncomfortably arranged, robbing you of precious personal space. And don’t even ask about Wi-Fi. No aircon and little ventilation was detectable, a problem which was compounded by the excessive amount of smoke that poured into the area.
This influx of smoke came from the grill outside, which was run by the most frightening person I’ve ever come in contact with while writing for Extra Rice. He was a frightening character, the type who looked like he might hurt me, and already disliked me to begin with. His aura, combined with the aura of the restaurant, definitely did not portray a room that would make me want to eat. At this point, I was praying to get started with the food and get out of there as quickly as possible.
Ming’s provides several ways in which you can order your food: 1) From the grill, 2) From the precooked items, and 3) From the a la minute section. To be fair, we ordered from all three.
From the grill, I got a stick of isaw (intestine) and a stick of tenga (ear). Both of them are dipped in a sweet marinade before grilling, and are dipped in a spicy vinegar before consumption. At P5 a stick, this is one to look out for; it has nice contrasting flavors, and is not overly hard or chewy. If you can interact with the grill man without getting scared, I recommend you stick to this area.
From the precooked items, I tried a bowl of sinigang and a tortang talong. The sinigang was a reasonable serving of beans and radishes in a well-seasoned soup, with a bit of pork thrown in. It’s the standard sinigang, and complemented the rice very well. The tortang talong, on the other hand, wasn’t as successful. It was about a fist-sized serving of eggplant, and wasn’t the ripest eggplant either. It was slightly bitter, and not very crispy, but was good when drowned in banana ketchup. Both orders, however, were quite cold, as they had come from the precooked menu, which is a euphemism for “old”.
Lastly, from the a la minute menu, I ordered their namesake tapsilog. First of all, the egg was probably one of the smallest chicken eggs I had ever seen, but was cooked to just at the point between runny and hard, which is perfect for me. The tapa is slightly tough, but chewy in a good way, and had a pretty good flavor to it. Overall, this was not as good as the grill food, but much better than ordering from the display. If you plan to sit down at Ming’s, go for the hot menu.
The plates the food were served on were minuscule, but the serving time was less than 5 minutes on the grill and short order, and less than a minute from the precooked items. All in all, it was tolerable. Not much more.
Restaurant: The reason I ate here was because I had friends who were on a budget. However, being caught eating here seems to imply that I’m going under a bit more than a budget crisis. Smokey environment, lack of ventilation or light, and unstable furniture make this literal “hole in the wall” a two thumbs down. Rating for the restaurant: 3/10.
Food: If there is any reason at all that you would want to go to Ming’s, aside from trying to save, it would be to get some fairly good eats. The servings may not be fit for most, but they are inexpensive, and are passable in the taste department. If you are coming from a drinking session, this would be pretty gourmet. Just make sure you get it to go. Rating for the food: 5/10.
Staff: The staff at Ming’s was a mixed bag. On one hand, there were nice ladies behind the counter who seemed to be under a lot of pressure, but were more pleasant than expected. On the other hand, the men (especially the one at the grill) made me feel slightly worried for my safety. Unpleasant would be a definite understatement. Rating for the staff: 4/10.
If you’re on a budget, I’m sure there are plenty of places you could go, order a smaller meal, and be perfectly happy. However, if you are looking for the same serving sizes you get in the cafeterias at school at a discount, and you have no standards as to what you expect when going to a restaurant, eat at Ming’s. I would recommend this to the extremely budget-minded, and the drunk. That’s about it. Just remember: this is my lowest rating so far for a reason.
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