Monday, October 25, 2010

Yen-Yen Taiwan Street Food

On our way home passing through the funeral parlors along Araneta Ave., QC, Apple and I noticed a new eatery called Yen Yen which offers Taiwan Street Food. Our first visit there was very satisfying. We ordered Taipei Braised Beef Noodle Soup - Jumbo (P168) and Spicy Wonton (6 pcs @ P 78). The noodles are soft and thinner than the Japanese udon and the soup was tasty with a little tinge of spice. We also ordered their Taiwan mini-siopao for take out (4 pcs @ P78). We were lucky to receive a discount since one of the owners recognized me as one of his teachers at DLSU-Manila. He graduated BSME in 1998. We enjoyed the food very much that we promised to return the following Sunday.
Our second visit the following Sunday was with the kids. We ordered Wonton Noodle Soup, Crispy Taiwan Porkchops, Chewy Kikiam, Crispy Taoso Tofu, Taiwan Special Fried Rice. The kids love the noodles. The soup though has too much seaweeds. Geof enjoyed the porkchops, while Apple and I consumed the tofu with the crispy toppings soaked in soy sauce and the kikiam. The serving of the special rice was generous which is more than 3 servings.
The resto is relatively small with about six tables for four. You will have no problem with parking since Yen Yen is part of the Parking Building.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Japan Memoir: An Experience with Japanese Workers

It was the end of the year in 1988 and a brief rest from my six-month Nihonggo course at Nagoya University had finally commenced. After spending two days of idleness at the Sakurayama Kaikan, the foreign students' house, I felt bored.

Nothing much to do during the two week Christmas break, my Malaysian friend, Rahman and I decided to look for a part-time job at the Nagoya International Center (NIC). A lot of advertisements were posted on the bulletin board -- mostly dealing with English-Japanese exchange lessons -- but what caught my friend's eye was an advertisement of one cleaning company in Fushimi, a business district in Nagoya that needs people to do some cleaning chores in some offices. It looks like a dirty job but still we went to see the manager, Mr. Fujiwara, to find out really what kind of job is being offered.

Mr. Fujiwara, a man in his early fifties, welcomed us warmly in his office. He speaks fluent English -- this may be due to his numerous trips abroad -- and he candidly explained to us the type of job and compensation offered by his company. From his explanation, I concluded that the job does not look very difficult and the pay (800 yen per hour), small it may seem, could pay out my daily expenses during the break. Besides it is better that doing nothing. So we accepted the job.
Our job which is to clean the offices at the Nagoya station starts at 5:30 PM just after office hours and finishes at 8:30 PM for a total of three hours.

On our first day of work, we were given working clothes (light blue uniforms) and shoes to wear. We dressed up at about 5:15 PM and reported for work at the basement of the building. The Japanese workers, numbering about 40, were mostly elderly - probably 50 to 60 years old. However, there were also a number of young workers; students perhaps doing "arbaito" or part-time work to support their studies. Before starting work, we assemble at the basement for some briefing and announcements from the head of the workers. On that day, we were introduced to the group and we were assigned a buddy or co-worker. My Japanese buddy was a short and friendly guy. It was from him that I learend my tasks. Since he can not speak English and I can not understand Japanese yet being only on my third month of Japanese lessons, instructions were mostly given by sign language. It was not diffcult to understand him though since I can catch some Japanese words he says while doing the signals.

My job was to collect the trash from the waste paper basket and transfer them to a big bag made of canvas and then throw them away at the basement. I realized that it was not a messy job after all since the trash is mostly paper. All in all, we have to clean about six floors with at least two office rooms per floor.

During my work, I observed the Japanese way of doing things - very systematic and efficient. The workers were divided into groups, Each group is assigned a particular task. The men were assigned the ardous chores - the group where I was assigned collects the trash while another group of elderly men do the vacuum cleaning. The tasks of the elderly women were also divided - one group cleans the toilet, another group collects only cigarette buts from the ashtrays while another group only wipes the office tables. It was a marvel to see everybody doing his/her small and simple task. It was like watching a mechanized factory in motion where each machine functions according to its intended purpose. When the task is over, we return the cleaning equipments - vacuum cleaners, canvas bags, mop, etc. - in their proper storage and dress up for home.

My last day of work coincided on December 30, the last day of work for the year. After completing our cleaning tasks, a small party was held. This simple party serves as the year-end party or "bonen-kai" for the workers. Beer, sake and food stuffs like dried squid, potato chips and cake were served. I was served beer and sake successively. Probably, I drank four to five glasses that night. "Kampai!" was shouted everytime we toast our drinks. It was really an impressive experience to witness the close relationship and camaraderie among ordinary Japanese workers. They seem to belong to one big family. After the food and drinks have been consumed, we exchanged New Year greetings and farewells as well. Next year, back to the same job for the Japanse worker.
-June 14, 1990-

I lived in Nagoya from September 1988 to April 1994 during my graduate studies at the Nagoya University. I completed my Master of Engineering in 1991 and Doctor of Engineering in 1994. I wrote this article during my creative time or maybe when I was pressured doing my research at the unviersity.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fresh Fruits and Juices at the UP Diliman Coop

Whenever we visit UP Diliman, we make it a point to drop by at the UP Cooperative where you can see stalls of xerox copiers, UP T-shirts, small eateries like Rodic's, Ersao and Mashitta and a fruit store. At the UP Coop fruit store is where we usually buy our favorite fruits like papaya, mangoes, banana, apples and avocado. Geof and Julia also love their fruit shakes - Geof prefers Mango shake and Julia loves strawberry shake. Oh, yes this store also sell tinapa and various dry goods. The UP Coop - its a one stop shopping complex!