One’s local convenience store may probably be the worst place from which you could buy something for lunch unless you’re from either Japan or the Philippines. In this neck of the woods, the convenience stores offer a wealth of satisfying meal options ranging from steamed meat buns (siopao, the local spin on char siu bao), dumplings on rice, ‘silogs (protein + fried rice and an egg [hence ‘silog as in tapsilog for a smoked beef combo]), even salads and wraps for the peckish.
But get this: 7-11 Philippines recently started selling meals for seriously hefty appetites. And by “hefty”, we’re talking about meals featuring tonkatsu pork fillets, baked chicken quarters, and – believe it or not – baby back ribs.
Yes, for P 69.00 (about US$ 1.67 / UK£ 1.10), you get an ample helping of baby back ribs on a bed of achuete (annato) – tinted Java rice with barbecue sauce and mixed veg on the side. You just pop this into the microwave provided on the 7-11 premises for a minute or so, and you’ve got yourself a solid, satisfying, and fairly tasty meal.
While the ribs aren’t as tender as those from a proper grill, they’re soft enough to be cut with plastic cutlery and are cooked and seasoned quite well. The barbecue sauce is also pretty good with the right amount of smoky-sweetness and a slightly vinegary tang that adds a welcome sharpness to the pork. The mixed veg is, alas, nothing to write home about; it’s bland, generic, and would have been improved by a smidgen of butter or margarine. The Java rice was also pretty standard.
Props to 7-11 for providing such meals, but the convenience store wars have begun to heat up in this part of the world. Case in point:
Japan’s Family Mart has opened the doors of its first branch in the Philippines and is offering such meal options as hot and cold sandwiches, omelette rice, sushi trays, and o-nigiri! And so it begins…