Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Is food at The Grid worth queuing up for?

/ 07:20 AM August 09, 2018

Motorists who attempted to traverse the streets of Metro Manila this week may have been dismayed to find that their speed was better measured by minutes per kilometer, rather than km/h. One can only blame “undisciplined”—whatever that means—drivers so much.

If all the vehicles were goose-stepping in formation, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The problem is simply that there are too many cars on the road. This is a problem that needs short- and long-term solutions, neither of which seems likely to be implemented anytime soon.


It is no secret in the airline industry that business-class travel isn’t about fluffier blankets and food served on crockery rather than in plastic containers. A big attraction of business class is the smugness of sailing past the sea of humanity waiting in line to board economy—they who will have to shuffle past, boarding pass hanging out between their teeth, as you sip champagne from real glass.



The hierarchy of traffic operates in much the same way. The plutocrats in their helicopters strap on their noise-canceling headsets, as they jump from landing pad to landing pad—above the ant-like people below—and shudder in horror that one day they may fall from their Icarus-like perches.

Senators, congressmen or anyone with the wherewithal to have a convoy of Land Cruisers with a police escort can sail past the sea of cars: Thank heavens! It’s good to be me.

Those with Fortuners can make sharp turns and cut off the motorcycles and sedan cars: Thank heavens I’m rich!

And so on down the line to the motorcycle drivers who look at the line of commuters waiting to board the MRT or are looking for a jeepney: Thank heavens, I have my wheels.

In a perfect world, this would go all the way down to the street-corner madman, high on rugby and rubbing alcohol, who would look up at the sky and see a helicopter burst into flames: Well, thank heavens, that’s not me.

Metro Manila traffic is social inequality shoved in our face on a daily basis.



Speaking of shoving, we seem okay to stand in a queue, until the queue is a bit too long, or the situation gets a little desperate, then it’s a free for all to catch the last helicopter out of Saigon.

“Don’t you have a priority lane?” snarled an old man with a child. We weren’t quite sure whether he was going to base his entitlement on being an old man, or being with a child, or perhaps he was going to whip out a PWD card, or any reason, really, for him to be at the head of the queue rather than in the place he was.

I’ve honestly never gone to The Grid food hall at the new Power Plant wing and had a good experience. And I say this with apologies to all who are part of The Grid and whose food I’ve gone there to try.

Bruce Ricketts is making his tortillas there, but you have to wait. I went at 11 a.m., on a weekday and the line was only moderately long. The food was served in about 20 minutes.

That’s not bad—definitely better than a ride to Aguirre in BF Homes, which used to be the only place you could get the tacos.

I caught Ricketts by the elevator on his way to work and he seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the popularity of The Grid. He said he was working on the operations.

Last I heard, the wait still takes about 15-20 minutes. But Ricketts and his wife, Jae, who helms the front of house, are able to keep this constant even during peak hours.

I’ve been meaning to try Happy Ongpauco-Tiu’s Le Chon stall, but anytime you go that isn’t 11 a.m., on a weekday, the crowds are not just swarming, but also rude.


If they see you headed toward a table, they’ll overtake from behind and then slide in, then give you a smug smile
—everything short of sticking their tongue out at you like a kindergartner who grabbed the last bucket in the sandbox.

So you have to rove, then stand menacingly behind a table that looks like they’re about to finish their food, like they used to do in Hong Kong in the 1980s. It’s like fighting dim sum, but you have to fight for your table, fight for your food, fight to be served water.

Service charge

That’s pretty expensive water, by the way, the service water that comes. There’s a roving crew that comes around and clears your tray and wipes down the table, just as there is in every SM food court. They do this, and they also give you water.

But The Grid will charge you 6 percent on top of your bill for “service charge,” something I haven’t encountered in any other food courts.

The food at The Grid is not cheap. The tacos come up to about P1,500 for two, which is reasonable because, as I have said and will say again, you don’t have to drive to Aguirre in BF Homes—and, really, they’re delicious.

The lobster sandwich is over P600. This is a pretty expensive food court—then they charge you 6 percent service charge.

Are the clients not paying rent? Was this not part of the operations cost when they did their computations?

I’ll wrap up with a plug for Edsa coffee, which also falls in the category of “I want to go but I’m not driving there.”

Well, you don’t have to drive to the building in the middle of nowhere anymore. The coffee is one of the best in town, and strangely enough, the queue is not too long.

Best of all? You can get it take-away, so you don’t have to fight for a table, nor do you have to pay the infernal service charge.

Unlike Manila traffic, I’m confident that these quirks will be ironed out, and that when the novelty wears off, I’ll be able to sit down and have a nice quick, cheap meal (that being the reason you’d go to a food court, after all), without the hassle and overpaying for being served a glass of water.

The Grid Food Market, R2 Level Expansion, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati.

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