Dining Out

Bernie’s Pancitan

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My father loved Petula Clark’s songs. He had a tape of her album and he often played it in the car. I was very young, not even in school yet, but after listening to her songs over and over, I could do a perfect “Downtown” sing-along. If you’re not familiar with it, the song is about amusing one’s self in the city when feeling lonely — watching the neon signs, seeing movies, listening to music…. My favorite line was “Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova…”, not because I knew what a “bossa nova” was back then, but because I liked the way the words rolled on my tongue. That was way, way, waaaaaay before I saw Petula Clark in Finian’s Rainbow, memorized the soundtrack and started singing Old Devil Moon along with my nursery rhymes. The young girl that I was had no idea that it was a song of seduction. If it shocked my prudy-doody mother, she made no comment. It was she, after all, who introduced me to Finian’s Rainbow.

But I digress… The past two days have been rather trying, working alone can get maddening (but only sometimes) especially when you alone know what to do with what. I’ve been working 20-hour days (no kidding) and, by 7.30 p.m. tonight, all I wanted was something different — anything so long as it’s a break from the humdrum of everyday. Just like the suggestion in “Downtown”, Speedy suggested a movie but I said there was nothing showing that I’d care to see. I thought there was only that god-awful Twilight movie and forgot that Drive is Now Showing too. I said we could go out and eat Chinese but it was dinner time and restaurants would be crowded.

In the end, I decided that I just wanted to eat something different. I wanted barbecued isaw. I also wanted pancit (Asian style noodles). Just across the street from where we buy barbecued isaw is an eatery that is something of an institution in Antipolo. It’s called Bernie’s. Having finally decided, Speedy went out to buy barbecued isaw and pancit. Right after dinner, I already felt invigorated and resumed working almost at once.

Bernie’s is not a big place as most customers order take-out. But it’s been there forever and it’s open 24 hours a day. I learned about it from a friend, Melissa, a fellow resident of the boondocks, who would order Bernie’s pancit for potluck get-togethers when she didn’t feel like cooking. I still don’t know exactly how many varieties of pancit they sell there but I do remember that whatever it was that Melissa fed us one time was terribly good.

While Speedy was out, I prepared a dessert of peaches and cream (I’ll write about that tomorrow).

Some thirty minutes later, Speedy was back. We unwrapped the packages of barbecued isaw and pancit canton then ate. The pancit canton was good for three but it only cost PhP90.00 (that’s less than USD2.00). And the pancit was delicious. Very tasty, not greasy and although there were only a few pieces of meat, the vegetables were fresh, lightly crisp and just marvelous. It was a good dinner.

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There is only one Bernie’s Pancitan. You’ll find it at #100 C. Lawis Street, Barangay San Isidro, Antipolo and it sells several noodle dishes. No frills. But the food is good but cheap because the owners don’t have to pay millions in franchise. The owners don’t have to pay badly trained servers who greet you with memorized lines and fake smiles the way they do in burger chains. I like places like that (remember Genia’s?). I really like places like that.

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