When I started working in Makati again after a rather long spell in Quezon City several years ago, a little convenience store on the corner of Buendia and Makati Avenue was one of the best places to get an interesting boxed lunch whenever I found myself in the Salcedo Village zone at noon. The store was called C-Mart and it served up a number of offerings that were quite different from the usual round of sandwiches, steamed buns, and deep-fried stuffed bread that were the usual menu selections from other stores. Seriously: it was one of the few places where P 100.00 could get you a boxed lunch consisting of rice and two mains – and such mains: lemon chicken and spring rolls, Korean beef ribs and pa jeon (squid omelet), tonkatsu and yasai itame (mixed veg stir-fry) with silken tofu.
C-Mart has since transformed itself into Good Day. Billed as a premium convenience store, it’s actually more like a Japanese konbini or a gourmet deli because of all the Japanese, Korean, Malaysian/Indonesian, and Chinese groceries it offers from ready-to-drink beverages to drink mixes, snacks, and meals.
I was thrilled to see single-serve Owl and Chek Hup mixes for white coffee and teh tarik (Malayan pulled milk tea) on the shelves and happily went and bought a few which I found most interesting. The teh tarik mixes were both ace: richly flavored with black tea, properly frothy when made up, fragrant, and just sweet enough. The white coffees were also rich and good, but the gula melaka (palm sugar) variant from Owl definitely takes the cake for being properly bittersweet.
Also found: Oishi Oaties Milk, a fiber-enriched dairy bev that is so much better for you than regular milk – and it tastes good, too.
Darda Popcorn, a Korean import, is another great find. Weighing only 45 grams each, these mini-tubs hold an astonishing amount of popcorn and come in a number of fascinating flavors. Those currently available here in the Philippines are butter and cheese, creamy caramel, and this little monster: the Super Mix.
Like it says on the label, the popcorn within is a mix of butter, peanut, chocolate, caramel, strawberry, and plain salted. There are no unpopped kernels, no overly chewy ones, either: the popcorn is a delightful mix of regular fluffy popcorn and the more spherical mushroom kernels. Each kernel is crisp, properly seasoned, and coated with just enough flavor-glaze to keep it interesting. I daresay this would be the perfect thing to take to the movies.
And then, there are the Jitterbeans. These are coffee-infused chocolate candies laced with the stimulant guarana. I got these for my sister who’s way into coffee, but I don’t have the guts to try these for myself. The “take one piece of candy a day only” caveat gives me the shivers…