REVIEW: The Taste of SALT, Makati

It has been a while since I last posted a review here, so yesterday, when my friend Emma had a craving for something savory, I immediately thought of SALT.  (Actually, she immediately thought of it, but we’re eating together, so it could have easily been me too.)

I’ve seen the rounds in the blogs for this little hole in the wall.  Located at the corner of Fermina and Enriquez, it wasn’t that hard to find.  From our office along Makati Avenue, we walked to the tricycle station by Polaris St. and simply said Fermina.  The sign is right there, it’s impossible to miss.

(For those who are driving, turn at the corner of Howzat Gym and Bar along Kalayaan Avenue.  The resto is on the third street to your left.)

This being a spontaneous run, please excuse the quality of photos.  Not only were we rushing to finish a sumptuous lunch and squeezing in 15 minutes of quiet time, I only had my phone with me.  All photos are watermarked (poorly, if I may add) in Fotor.

Simple exteriors and interiors, the place is quite inviting.  I had to confirm to a friend if they’re open for lunch, and the only thing he replied is the place is his go-to for “value for money” food.

Salt Facade

Salt In

Salt In 2

Forgot to take a photo of the exterior, but you get the gist.  That small pocket room at the side looks like it can be reserved for big groups.  But then, SALT looks like it was just put up at the back of a big house, so maybe you just come in early with a big group and occupy that space…??  I didn’t get to ask, I was starving.

Emma

Emma is not used to my blogging persona so she felt compelled to take photos too.  Given the shakiness of my pictures, I desperately needed meat.

The T-Bone Steak (P190)

The T-Bone Steak (P190)

Naturally, I had the T-Bone Steak (P190).  I read somewhere that they can’t get the doneness of this steak right.  I asked for medium rare, being the proper carnivore that I am, but because the cut is not as thick, it was cooked closer to medium.

T-Bone 2

Don’t get me wrong though.  The steak is ABSOLUTELY flavorful.  I really took my time eating it, I loved every bite.  They matched it with this barbecue sauce and a taste of potato salad.  It was so good.  Now I get what they say about value for money.

Beef Salpicao (P220)

Beef Salpicao (P220)

Emma had the Beef Salpicao (P220) and it looked like sex on a plate.  Hahaha.  Truly!  I immediately asked if they serve beer but unfortunately they don’t.  (So I sometimes drink for lunch, why judge?)

Beef Salpicao 2

How sexy is that oil touching the rice?  DROOL ALL OVER.  The beef was tender and well cooked, the garlic was tasteful but not overpowering.  All it really needed was beer really.

I read somewhere that the resto only uses Batangas beef, and I approve of that.  The first time I tasted that kind of meat was at a buffet.  Cheers for homegrown food!

Our meals were so savory, there was only one way to end it.

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110)

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110)

The Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110) can be shared by two.  It has the right amount of sweetness and the cold dessert makes for a perfect match for the hot lunch sun.  It also washes away the yummy oil taste from the meals.  It truly is the perfect ending.

All in all, it was a great experience for us both.  We walked out of SALT satisfied and satiated, and feeling the need to run 10km because we almost licked our plates clean.  Too bad though for the other table; their orders were not available in the kitchen.  But I have a feeling their best sellers are always in stock.

If you’re planning to drop by, here’s the menu of the place:

Menu

Drop a line if you’re dropping by soon!  It’s so close to my office, I just might join you.

 

SALT
5887 Fermina St. corner Enriquez St., Poblacion, Makati
Hours:  Tuesday to Saturday 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Sundays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

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The secret in getting a US Visa

I had a really good week last week.  After some encouragement from a friend, I filled out and filed my application for a B2 US Visa at the Manila Embassy this June 27.  She encouraged me to be brave and so I scheduled the interview that very Monday, June 30.

The DS-160 application is pretty straightforward.  Name, address, occupation, purpose of visit.  But just as any single working under 40 Filipina, I am quite afraid of the MOB stereotype (I can’t even bear to spell out the meaning of that acronym, but feel free to message me so I can share it with you privately.)

The appointment confirmation only required five (5) things:

  1. All pages of the appointment letter
  2. DS-160 confirmation page with photo printed on it
  3. Valid passport
  4. 2”x 2” color photo, against a white background
  5. Original machine-readable visa fee receipt

At the time, I paid for my visa application fee of US$160 at BPI.  They have a flat exchange rate, so payment was for Php7,200.  You will generate the receipt number here, and you will need it before filling out the application form online.

Anyway, just to be sure, I also prepared the following documents.  It’s quite funny actually, as if fate is pushing me to get the application, because all these documents I managed to collate and complete on the same day I applied.  Which very rarely happens in government.

  1. Employment certificate
  2. Statement of gross annual income
  3. BIR Form 2316
  4. Bank statements of the one with significant holdings
  5. Old passport, which contains my previously issued visa 10 years ago (I am old fuckit)
  6. Birth certificate

I left the office at around 11am for my 12:45pm appointment.  The line wasn’t long; there’s a line that will attach a bar code to your passport upon presentment of the DS-160 confirmation page.

You will be given a number and asked to wait.  I really liked their waiting lounge, even if it’s the open air.  Despite the fact that it was nearing high noon, the space was well ventilated.  I cannot imagine waiting during the peak of summer though; that must have been a completely different case.

An embassy personnel will call out a batch of numbers for the initial screening.  You will then be led inside the embassy, and the first window you will encounter confirms all the details you filled out in the DS-160.  Mind you, they’re quite particular with the photo you’re supposed to submit.  If they do not approve of your photo, there’s a photobooth by the waiting are for you to retake your photo.  Click here for the photo standards.

If you have any changes or errors in the DS-160 application, say it at this portion so they can correct it accordingly.

You will then be asked to line up for the finger scanning.  This took a while.  I think our batch had about 200 applicants.  I noticed that the interviews will be conducted on the same floor.  The consulate officers are prolly still on break at the time.

After the finger scanning is the anxious wait.  One by one, the windows for the interviews opened and I noticed that there are no more people coming in the hall.  We must be the last batch of interviewees.

I noticed that there was one window for work- and sympathy-related applications.  There was this one consulate that processed those asking for a quick leave to bury a relative and he was also the one who handled the flight attendants.

I was so anxious, because I can hear the other consulate officers denying each applicant.  And so I had to tune out and looked around the room.  There was an AVP playing and it kept saying that there is no secret in getting a US Visa.

You can be a college nursing student, with minimal savings, a pending petition, and bad luck that can go on for days and still get a visa.  Because they are only looking for one thing:  your ties to the Philippines.

When it became my turn, I went to my assigned window and saw that one applicant is still being interviewed.  It was horrid, for him.  It went like this, or at least the ones I heard.

Applicant:  I will go to California to buy supplies for my business
Officer:  What is your business?
A:  I own an electric cooperative in the province.
O:  What are you buying?
A:  Materials for the electric cooperative.
O:  Like…?  Give examples.
A:  Pliers, copper wires, cables…
O:  You need to go to California to buy pliers?
A:  These are specialized equipment, it can’t be any run of the mill equipment.
O:  Can you show me a list of the supplies that you will buy?
A:  (looks through stuff) I’m sorry I did not bring it with me.
O:  Where will you buy these supplies in California?
A:  In Company X, Store Y and Company ABC.
O:  May I see your appointment letters with these companies?
A:  I have not contacted them yet.
O:  Where are you staying?
A:  At my brother’s wife’s house near Santa Monica.
O:  Where is your brother?
A:  Here in the Philippines.
O:  Why can’t you buy your supplies in China?  Taiwan?  Europe?  Why the US?
A:  Because those are of poor quality, not like the US.
O:  Who will be paying for your trip?
A:  I am.
O:  It’s for your company right?  Why is the company not paying for it?  Why you?
A:  I can afford it, no need to bill my company.
O:  (types stuff) I regret to inform you that your application for a US visa has been denied because you cannot establish the purpose of your travel.  You may reapply when you have a firmer purpose and itinerary of your visit.  Thank you for your time.

This took about 7 minutes.  And they’ve already started the conversation before I even fell in line.

The guy could not do anything!  He just stepped back and thanked the consul and the next thing I know, it was my turn.  Here’s how my interview went:

Me:  Good afternoon! (smile, but not the overeager kind lol)
Officer:  Good afternoon, how are you today?
M:  I’m good, and you?
O:  I’m well too, thank you for asking.  So why are you traveling to the US?
M:  To visit my relatives… (slightly awkward pause and then stammered) and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
O:  I see.  Diagon Alley is about to open.
M:  Yes!  I think next week!
O:  Have you been to the US before?
M:  Yes in 2004.
O:  How long did you stay there?
M:  2 months.
O:  What is the work that you do?
M:  I’m a bank officer at the GHFK Bank.
O:  How much do you earn every month?
M:  Phpxx,xxx
O:  Who will be paying for your trip?
M:  I am.
O:  (types) Thank you for your time.  Your visa will be ready in a week.  Enjoy your trip.
M:  Thank you.  (backs away slowly, starts internal happy dance)

My interview was 3 minutes long.

I have read blogs and other experiences about their visa application and I can say there is only one secret to getting one:  be honest.  It is also the message they have played over and over in the screens that you can view while you wait for your turn.  Honesty (and a good dose of confidence) will really show during the interview, and firmly establish your ties in the Philippines.

I received my visa last Thursday.  10 years.  Multiple entry.

I was very blessed last week.  Perhaps rewarding my honesty.  But seriously, those who say that they have a quota, that they are profiling applicants, those are just suspicion and opinion.  Just be honest.  When you have nothing to hide and no intent to deceive, it really shows.

And who knows?  Maybe it would work out for you as well as mine did. :)

To the World Florist Association

Dear World Florist Association,

Some 7 or 8 years ago, I broke off a relationship for reasons I now do not understand.  That same person found his way back to me and we have been very blessed since.  He has calmed me, kept me composed, given me peace when I needed it the most, and tamed my potty mouth. His “level-headedness” is something I do my best to imitate.  He is quite an admirable man.

Imagine my giddiness when, three days before Valentine’s Day, he not-so-subtly checked if I will be in the office all day because something “may or may not arrive between 8am to 6pm.”

Imagine my suppressed laughter when, come Valentine’s Day, I can sense he’s forcing himself to stay awake until that something came.

Imagine my worry when his eagerness turned into anxiety, and then disappointment as the hours passed by and nothing came.

Imagine his frustrated tone when he finally admitted, the next day, that he picked out flowers for me that was supposed to arrive on V-day, and that he paid extra so it would arrive before lunchtime.

Imagine my surprise when he didn’t receive a notification from your company that the delivery was not made.

Imagine the tiny ounce of patience left in me when I calmly said, “Let’s see how they will apologize for it on Monday.”

Imagine my anger when you didn’t.

Allan never misses an occasion.  With almost 7,000 miles between us, he has made sure to never miss an event or an instance to profess his love for me.  (We long distance couples depend on these supposed convenient means to make our presence felt, just in case you are incapable of doing the math.)  So it all made sense when he finally admitted that it was the World Florist Association who did not deliver.

If he had not written an email about the non-delivery, would your sales team have informed him?  Not a peep, not a call, not a single PROACTIVE apology.  He had to tell you that you failed to do your job.

You did not even find it within the sphere of simple customer service and basic crisis management to just send the flowers immediately.  He had to wait for you to come up with it on your own.

You further insulted him, in my opinion, by throwing him a bone in the form of chocolates and a committed February 19 delivery.

A woman called at 3:30 pm today, confirming the delivery address and at the same time, assuring me that the flowers will reach me today.  It is now 10:00 pm and I am yet to see the shadow of the flowers my partner had lovingly picked out for me.

AND YOU STILL HAVE THE GALL TO CHARGE ALLAN FOR YOUR “SERVICE.” There is not a single soul in the business of complaints handling that would attest to your effective conflict resolution.  At least, not in this instance.

I could have done away with the flowers.  But Allan picked those out.  I want to see what he got for me.  He knows to pick exactly the ones I would love. He never misses an occasion.  But thanks to you, he has now.

I wanted to know at what level of disservice, dissatisfaction and inconvenience would trigger your tiny, tiny mind to actually deliver the product as requested as committed and also, grant him a full refund for every bit of trouble you’ve put him through?

Because given your poor comprehension of business ethics and the realization that you have not come close in making up for it — and my potty mouth ready to fire off at this very minute — a semblance of GENUINE, SINCERE, AND MEASURABLE APOLOGY IS IN DIRE NEED.

World Florist Association, sir, you are a cunt. You do not deserve his faith in your service, much more his money. You should be ashamed of yourself. Fucking give it back.

I am blessed with a kind-hearted man who will never talk down on anyone or make anyone feel bad on purpose. He will disagree with me on this, this email will lead to an argument, but I am not about to sit idly by and watch you STEAL HIS HARD EARNED MONEY AND CALL IT A QUALITY PRODUCT.

 
Absolutely never using your service again and OHMYGOD my LDR couple friends are going to so hear all about your assholery,
Me.

No Artitude problem here

I’ve always been a fan of everything unique.  I mean, who isn’t?  So when my good friend Algie Mabasa started her own personalized canvas shoe business, I was completely on board.

Artitude is your next step to originality, and I mean it.  Uniting a team of artists and Algie’s sketchbook, she launched this brilliant of an idea raising canvas shoes to the next levels.  It is nowhere near what you see in malls; they exert the most effort in maintaining originality in every pair.  So who won’t fall in love with these then?

Minion A Minion B Superman A Superman B

Algie comes up with a few designs her clients would choose from but in the end, she just asks them one question:  What do you want on your shoe?

“I encourage my clients to design their own shoes and wear their art with pride,” she said.  I cannot believe this is the same lady who, six years ago, was complaining about how difficult it is to be a teenager.  Amazing how exposure to the world can make us mature.  And pride really is a sentiment that should be shared by those wanting to own something close to representing their own individuality.  Artitude brings that to the table.

Ironman A Ironman B Joker A Joker B

This venture started just a little over six months ago and already, she’s preparing shipments to Dubai, Australia and Canada to say the least.  Just last week, we were looking at shipment options for a bulk buyer in Saudi Arabia.  Shoes are flying off the shelves and in the next few months, we will see stilettos.

Cards A Cards B

“This is my favorite Artitude pair, the first ever made, and it was patterned after my original doodle.”  Just goes to show there’s nothing she cannot accomplish huh?

Here’s a sneak preview of her stilettos, and judging by the actual finished goods you saw on top of this post, you can expect that what you see is truly what you will get:

S Lips S Lyrics S Wonderwoman S Bumblebee S Eyes S Ferrari

She was bugging me to make my own creation and in my head, I wonder if these will be acceptable office wear.

But then again, wear anything with pride and everything becomes much more acceptable than the norm.

Order your Artitude personalized footwear on Facebook.  It’s best if you message them with a design in mind, but if you don’t have one yet, Algie and her team have enough creative juices to go around.

REVIEW: South of the Border, West of the Sun

As previously mentioned, I had the opportunity to encounter for the first time the work of Haruki Murakami.  A friend a while back already suggested that I start reading his work, but for some reason I never really got around it.  It wasn’t until I saw this book’s cover did I muster enough energy to purchase the book and immerse myself in it.

23

Talk about judging a book by its cover eh?  Hahaha.

If you haven’t read this book and are planning to, stop reading this now.  Continue reading