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Lomi and Gulay

[At the time this story was written in 2008, Flavors in China still maintained a restaurant at Robinson's Place here in Lipa. The restaurant used to offer a brand of lomi not quite like what most people from the city are used to; although I did develop a liking for it enough to write the ensuing story.]

Just the other day, I went to Flavors and asked the waiter for lomi. “Sorry Sir, we’re out of stock,” I was told by my waiter.

Great! A Chinese restaurant running out of noodles.

Actually, lomi ala Flavors is a little different from what we here in Lipa are used to. It has gulay.

Lomi with gulay. Yuk...!!!  That’s the typical reaction when somebody from around here goes to Manila, orders a bowl and then finds the ugly strips of gulay floating in the concoction.

In Lipa, gulay in lomi is absolutely taboo. It’s noodles swimming in broth thickened with beaten eggs and starch. There’s kikiam, meat balls that taste more like flour balls, strips of atay and slices of meat.

Those are the standards. Every lomi house has its own come-on to get a competitive advantage over the lomi joint three houses away. It can be toasted garlic… or chicharon… probably fish or squid balls…

But never gulay

You ask for toyo and, if you are brave, sili and chopped onions. The hardcore never asks for a platito to eat the lomi from so that it cools quicker. The lomi is supposed to be eaten straight off the bowl – yes, even while still hot enough to scald your mouth.

You may also wish to ask for some monay and a bottle of Coke; litro if you’re with friends.

Been a while since I’ve been to a right proper lomi haus, so Flavors’ version, I thought, was a convenient substitute yesterday. Despite the gulay, it’s actually pretty good. The fish ball actually tastes like fish, there are strips of squid and hipon and the slices of pork actually taste like pork instead of some synthetic substitute.

The gulay? Unlike some people I know, I really like vegetables; so there’s no problem with it whatsoever. I thought it complemented, rather than ruined the overall taste of the lomi. That said, it is not for the connoisseur of the Lipa version.

[This story was first published on Facebook on 24 April 2008.]

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