Last night, we went to the Katipunan branch of National Bookstore to buy an easel, canvass and paint brushes for Alex. We were planning on going to the grocery and seeing a movie at Eastwood afterward but decided to have dinner in Katipunan first. Sam suggested Hap Chan and I said okay. First, I love Chinese food. Second, we had eaten (ordered take-out and delivery as well) at the Antipolo branch of Hap Chan a couple of times before and we were happy with the food and service.
So, we went to Hap Chan. A waiter brought the menus, left, we browsed the menus, made our choices but the waiter hadn’t come back. We had to wave our hands vigorously trying to get the attention of one. When someone finally noticed, Sam, Alex and I ordered wonton noodle soup, Speedy chose asado noodle soup and we also got a few dim sum items — shrimp dumplings, bean curd rolls, pork spare ribs with black bean sauce, asado siopao and quail eggs siomai.
About five minutes later, the waiter came back to inform us that the frozen quail eggs siomai fell apart. We cancelled the order for quail eggs siomai. And we waited for the rest of the food we ordered. A girl brought glasses of water — first one, then two, then a fourth (why couldn’t she have placed all the glasses on a tray and served them all at the same time?). As though reading my mind, Speedy, observing the waiters, commented that waiters no longer seemed to be trained to carry trays properly. But, anyway…
The food arrived. They looked good — large bowls, generous number of wontons… we so looked forward to a good meal.
Then, as I started to mix my bowl of noodles, I saw it.
Maggot, said Sam.
Speedy, Sam and Alex started inspecting their own bowls of noodle soup.
Alex’s soup had a maggot too.
We called the waiter and, without sounding upset nor angry, showed him the maggots in the food (never piss off the waiter — he might spit on your food). He left, came back after several minutes and said that all the bowls of noodle soup would be replaced. Since it was obvious that the maggots were in the pechay Baguio (Napa cabbage), we told him that we didn’t want any more pechay Baguio in our noodle soups. All four bowls were taken away.
Meanwhile, the rest of the dim sum items arrived and we were so hungry that we finished all of them within a few minutes.
We talked about the maggots, naturally. Never mind the impoliteness of talking about yucky things over a meal. We already saw the damn things and not talking about them won’t wipe off their images inside our heads as they were already embedded deeply. Seeing maggots in vegetables no longer shock me because I do find them in freshly bought veggies occasionally especially inside eggplants. I said that finding them in veggies isn’t such a bad thing really because it’s a sign that the veggies aren’t drowned in pesticide.
What was so shocking was that the veggies were obviously not rinsed properly before they were added to the noodle soup. What kind of food handling is that?
After a while, the replacements arrived.
Sam and Speedy wondered if the greens had simply been fished out of the original bowls of soup then dumped into clean bowls. I didn’t think so because the bits of spring onions looked freshly sprinkled. If what we were served were the same noodle soups, the onion leaves would have been wilted and softened after soaking for so long in the hot broth. I felt that the noodle soups were edible and we started eating. We just wanted to finish our meal because we wanted to catch the last full show of MI4: Ghost Protocol and we couldn’t waste time arguing with the waiters or whoever’s in charge.
But there were more problems.
The noodles were all clumped in large tough clusters in Sam’s and Speedy’s bowls. The clumps were smaller in mine. Not even the hot broth could soften them.
We were all exasperated by that time. Still, I didn’t want to ruin the evening by picking a fight. We see so little of the girls as it is and we were driving them back to the condo after the movie so I just wanted a relaxed and relaxing evening out with them. We ate what we could, Alex shared half of her noodles with her dad who couldn’t eat the too tough and chewy clumps of noodles in his bowl, Sam and I just left more than half of the noodles in our bowls.
I went to the washroom and, when I came back, there were bowls of almond jelly on the table. Complimentary, Speedy said. But we didn’t touch them. Sam said they smelled awful. I smelled them and I agreed — they had that distinct artificial smell.
But here’s the kicker. When a waitress brought the bill, Speedy, who didn’t have his reading glasses, asked me to check the items in the list. While I was going over them one by one, the waitress noticed the bowls of almond jelly and gave an exclamation that they hadn’t been included in the bill yet. I said we didn’t order them in the first place. The bill was over PPHP800.00. I paid with a credit card to make sure that my name was on the receipt — evidence, you know, that the photos above and the accompanying story were not just picked up from somewhere and reproduced here.
P.S. Sam took the photos. Thanks, sweetie.