Kuya, that is NOT shrimp! (Or, the creepy-crawly noodle incident.)

Thursday night found me at the Ayala-Buedia area meeting Bern for dinner. We decided to go to 101 Hawker Food House, an Asian/Singaporean restaurant near Burgundy and PeopleSupport Center. Bern heard about Hawkers from an online review commending the place’s good-tasting food at inexpensive prices.

There were several diners when we arrived. A waiter quickly approached us, handing a menu and asking what we would like to order. We humored the guy, asking what he would recommend; he told us to try the toppings. Bern and I decided we’ll but noodles; I ordered Singaporean curry bihon while Bern got for himself Hokkien fried noodles. We also ordered some sharksfin siomai and two glasses of dalandan juice.

Here is a photo of the Singapore curry noodles:

Singapore curry bihon from 101 Hawker Food House

Both dishes smelled wonderful and I decided to photograph them before we eat. Bern noticed a small piece of what he thought was noodle fall off the plate.

The small piece of what he thought was noodle started to move. Bern, knowing my digust of small worms, tried to cover my eyes and said, “Hunny, don’t look.”

It was a maggot. The plate had several maggots crawling between the noodles.

While I enjoy the occasional exotic dish whenever I travel (I don’t consider frog that exotic and I’ve eaten — and enjoyed — bugs), one food rule that I still observe is this: Food that is served should not move on its own.

Bern took the plate and approached the cashier counter to complain.

“Kuya,” he told one of the waiters, “what’s this?” He was referring to the little crawlers in the noodle. I assumed the waiter did not notice them because he answered it was shrimp which was part of the dish.

Bern pointed out to the maggots and said, “Kuya, that is NOT shrimp.”

Bern told me about that conversation later because I stayed in our table. Worried about the other dish, I looked at the fried noodles closely and, sure enough, I also found some maggots crawling between the noodles. I took the plate, approached the counter and presented the dish to the waiters.

Now, if it was just one contaminated dish out of several, I might accept the restaurants offer to server the same dish or maybe order a new one. Which is what the waiters offered. Thing is, two different dishes had maggots in them, which makes me suspect that the restaurant’s noodles were contaminated by them.

“No,” I told the waiters, “we’re not ordering anything anymore.” I asked that we get a receipt for the dalandan juice we have in our table. However, I told Bern maybe it’s not a good idea to drink those either.

To be fair to Hawkers, they did not let us pay for the drinks anymore. Bern and I quietly walked out of the restaurant, deciding whether we would still want to eat dinner.

It’s a good thing we’re both hearty eaters, although I told Bern I don’t feel like eating Chinese food anymore when we passed by North Park in Convergys One. We settled for Brothers Burgers. “After all,” I joked, “if maggots ever get their way into the patty, they’ll be roasted by the time they are served to us.”

“Settle” made it sound like I was not at all eager to eat in Brothers. I like Brothers and I’ve always enjoyed their chicken sandwich with pesto sauce. This time, though, I decided to order something different.

Bern chose fried chicken strips over rice while I ordered their Santa Fe burger.

Santa Fe burger from Brothers Burger

The chicken was good, though a little dry for me, but the burger was yummy. The patty was topped with chili con carne and jalapeno slices. The burger’s accompanying fries also had a lovely cheese dip that went well with Bern’s fried chicken.

Bern told me a story of how during Good Friday, when nearly all restaurants in the Ayala were closed, Brothers was one of the few that remained open. They were in fact still serving beef burgers, despite how most Catholic people in the country were observing meat abstinence. Awesome.

Making Bern and I enjoy our dinner despite the horrific experience in that other restaurant is no small miracle.

Keysmith.

Turned out the boyfriend had not yet seen how a duplicate key gets cut and was so amazed when I brought him a keysmith along Buendia a few weeks back. It was just one key copy for the other flatmate, and boyfriend was a little disappointed that he won’t be seeing more.

“Fine,” I told him, “when we get the new flat’s keys, you have them duplicated so you could watch them made.” You could see the look of delight in his eyes.

When we moved into the new flat, the caretakers gave us key sets with duplicates so there wasn’t much point in copying most of them. That was a bit of a let down for boyfriend; he took consolation that we still needed duplicates for the two front door keys.

When we passed by the area where there are keysmiths along Buendia, we thought all of them were staying home for Sunday. But there was one man who went to work, cutting the keys for a middle aged woman.

“My son,” she told us without being asked, “will probably lose them again after a few days. He always loses his keys.” She explained, in the voice of someone who has long since resigned to the inevitabilty of some things, how the replacement keys her son lost were cut just four days ago. I clucked in sympathy as she walked away with new keys which will probably be lost by next week.