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Noodly Day

“Daanan ako ng hindi pa nag-aalmusal,” was the text message I sent Kobe this morning as soon as I entered my office. He was at the door almost as soon as Windows Vista finished loading.

For the sake of speed more than anything else, the food I chose this morning at the cafeteria was one of the unimaginative set meals that is thoughtlessly prepared everyday for those who cannot find it in them to eat breakfast before leaving home: fried rice, sunny-side up and skinless longganisa.

Whenever I sit down to have breakfast with Kobe, more often than not, it becomes the first meeting of the day. Kahit nasubô at mu-al pa, I get reports on the status of policy revisions, summaries of warehouse releases or, perhaps, when the asset inventory is due to begin.

It was more of the same this morning, except that that my attention just kept wandering to the relatively new lomi stall that was set up just to our right. Lomi: 45 pesos… Guisado: 45 pesos… That was what the eyesore of a tarpaulin announced.

And despite that, the craving started…

Of late, I had tended to favor the lomi they serve at Flavors, albeit it comes served with all sorts of gulay floating in the sabaw – a no-no in Lipa-style lomi. Priced almost four or even five times more than what one pays at the humble lomi haus, you nevertheless get good value for money.

The lomi is served almost apaw na, and there is so much more sahug than one gets elsewhere. But, of course, there is the taste to consider. The Flavors lomi is excellent; but anyone who knows what Lipa-style lomi is also knows it is not the same. I’m sure it’s the gulay

Come lunchtime – as I graphically told Eugene and Von-dot – daig ko pa ang naglilihi. So the three of us went down to the cafeteria to see what the fuss was all about.

Today being Thursday – when classes in the College do not end until 12:30 – there were still relatively few students at the cafeteria and only one coed standing in front of the lomi stall. “How much lomi do I get for the 45?” I asked the service staff behind the stall. He pointed towards a neat pile of paper bowls.

Ay… ‘Di pa lalapat sa bituka ko…!!!

Von-dot must have seen the dejection in my eyes, so he volunteered, “Do you want to eat out?” My eyes lit up instantly. “Pangao!” I said excitedly. Eugene tried to suggest a lomi haus somewhere near the air base, but he was quickly outvoted 2 to 1.

For those who do not know, Pangao is a tiny farm village on the outskirts of the city. In fact, during the 10-minute drive to the lomi joint, we were kidding about finding flies floating in the lomi – not unheard of, as a matter of fact.

“Tatlong lomi special,” I told the waitress as soon as I got seated on the rickety bamboo bench. Von, who was earlier parking the car, soon joined us; and we talked casually while the lomi was being cooked.

I amused myself looking at the faded posters on the thatched wall. Osama Bin Laden, a caricature boasted, had been to this lomi haus. Aba ngâ naman!!!

In no time at all, the lomi was served. This is the best thing about eating in a lomi joint. There is practically no wait-time.

Now, everyone who loves Lipa-style lomi knows that while the recipe is basically the same everywhere you go, each joint adds in a little “secret” something to gain what they teach us in Business School as competitive advantage. On top of the obligatory noodles, slices of liver, kikiam, meatballs and generous doses of monosodium glutamate – a.k.a. vetsin – this particular lomi haus became known for adding chicharong balat and tustadong chips of bawang.

When I first started visiting this particular joint, you just helped yourself to as much bawang as you wanted. Management must have ordered cost-cutting measures because these days, the garlic is served in tiny sachets. Bummer…

And now to the lomi itself… What else can I say???!!! Ang sarrrraaapppp!!! And a bill of 150 pesos fed three hungry gentlemen!!! May Sprite pa!!!

You would think, after that meal, that I would have already satisfied my craving. But no; by three, I was hungry again. Things were relatively light document-wise, so Von-dot and I went down to the cafeteria.

No, not lomi again! Guisado this time; and we ordered at the very same stall I had been watching all day long. In fairness, masarap din s’ya

[Footnote: No noodles for supper. Pinakbet and bistek at Pangga’s. Baka naman magmukha na akong mikeh…]

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