A Happy Birthday at Zark's Burgers

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

PROLOGUE

July 22 is the day my soulmate was born. (Yihee!) And yesterday was the day he turned 22. Cool, eh?

My initial plan was to surprise him but I got scared after walking the way to his dorm when I went there last week. I simply would not recommend going on that part of Manila alone lest you'd see what Dan Brown means when he said "gates of hell". Ok, I'm overreacting. Anyway, I thought we could have dinner at my favorite foodhub: Kapitolyo. But I later realized (because he sort of mentioned it. Haha), it'll be quite a hassle for the B-boy as he'd be going back to his dorm in España immediately after our date. So, we eventually decided to celebrate at Zark's Katipunan. You can never ever go wrong with burgers. Go go carnivores!

IN A NUTSHELL

1.) We are the best of friends. Dennis and I met up under the overpass near Petron at around 6:30 PM. We walked towards Ministop and hopped unto a tricycle towards Zark's. (I think this ride cost us 18php.) Zark's sign beckoned us and shone bright like a diamond:

The place was packed. We had to wait a couple of minutes before we were able to sit down. Look how crowded the place was:
I later found out that there were more seats available at the floor above. Huh.

After sitting down, we perused the menu, decided what to have and hollered at one of the servers. I must say, I was disappointed because our first choice (The Luther Burger) was not available. Even the Nachos Galore was not available that night. I'm not sure if they ran out of it or they just decided to strip items, that are not doing well in sales, off the menu. *shrugs* In any event, we decided to have the Cheesy Fries, the Deep Fried Burger, and the Jawbreaker. We did not take on the Jawbreaker challenge, just to be clear.

Afterwards, I spotted a recently vacated table on the more out-of-the-way part of the store (we were sitting along the aisle). I asked a server if we could transfer. He said it was fine, so we did. After we settled ourselves, I began casually observing the place. Well, you know, nothing too fancy. Just some sparse sports memorabilia and posters of the food challenges as wall decor; a large flatscreen that, I assume, is perpetually tuned in to NBA TV; pop music blaring on the stereo. The place was buzzing with energy too. Majority of the patrons were obviously students (from nearby Ateneo, I guess). Most were barkadas hanging out. I told Dennis that the place is not for intimacy. He agreed. He said it was, indeed, for magbabarkada. "Ok lang yan. Mag-bestfriend naman tayo eh," said I. Dennis smiled and nodded in agreement. 

While waiting for our carnivorous dinner, we, of course, took pictures:
Goofy, lovey stare
Reflections
Shy type
I thought I must've looked jologs because I was lugging a good ol' digital camera (admittedly a crappy one) instead of the ubiquitous smartphone. 

Oh, well.

2.) Last night, food won. Moments later, our food arrived. 

Brace yourselves:
Cheesy Fries (70php)
It took about 15 minutes before this dish was served to us. And that was fine in itself, but what was suspect was the temperature of this dish. Dennis and I noticed that the fries were not hot and not that crispy despite the considerable time we had to wait out. They're not cooked-to-order, apparently. But anyhow, blah blah blah, we still enjoyed it.
Couldn't you tell?
We especially liked the blue cheese dip that came with it.

When we were halfway through the fries, this went out the kitchen unto our table:
Deep-fried burger (180php)
Let me describe this burger. First of all, we opted for the half-pound version of it. (Rawr! Carnivores!) Secondly, the buns are deep-fried in a pancake-like batter. To top it all of, it is meant to be paired up with a rum barbecue sauce that was, I'm sure of it, straight from the cookbook of the gods. And yes, more fries.
Well, when I cut down to this burger (yep, I decided to mind my manners that night and use some cutlery), the smell it let off was divine. The aroma of the patty entwined with the redolence of pancake took my breath away. I paused--knife halfway the meat--and breathed it all in. Wonderful! Seconds later, I exhaled my way back into present time and forked a hefty bit of everything--meat, bread, tomato, cheese--and dunked it all into the tiny pool of utter goodness that was the barbecue sauce. I eyed my masterpiece. Satisfied, I shoved it into my mouth. "Mmmmm," I muttered. Eyes wide, I looked at Dennis and exclaimed, "ang sarap!" Dennis gently pulled the plate towards him and cut himself a piece of the burger. "Sarap nga," he concurred. 
To my surprise, we grazed the entire sandwich in record time! (Although no one was really keeping. Hoho.)

Moments after the Deep-fried arrived, this followed:
Aaaaaagggh! Monsteeeeer!
We made the mistake of digging into the Deep-fried first. We thought, "Meh. This is nothing." I'm telling you, this is definitely not nothing. The whole affair with the Deep-fried already got my heart racing but I was determined to go head-to-head with the professed "Jawbreaker" (250php).
As you can see, this behemoth is made up of three (that's right, three!) half-pound patty, weighing in a total of et semissem libra pondo. Erm, excuse my Latin. Haha. If that's not outrageous enough, it also packs in slices of Spam and strips of bacon! If you ask me, the lettuce and tomato were just an attempt to make the whole thing seem less vulgar.

Anyway, even after Dennis gave me a concerned look, I started carving the giant. 
I was saying "Woooh!" when this was taken thus the weird-looking mouth
Believe it or not, the Jawbreaker is not even Zark's largest burger. Mind-boggling, I know. 

In any case, both of us started taking shots at the Jawbreaker. All the time we were consuming this, I kept telling Dennis that there is something to the burger because I started having a mild case of lockjaw. I know chewing can be tiring, and maybe I was just imagining things. But still. Curiouser and curiouser.

To our credit, though, we were faring considerably well against the infamous sandwich:
You're going doooooown!
I feel that I must reiterate that we were not taking on the challenge. We were just pegging as competitive eaters that night. (Idol kasi namin si Adam Richman ng Man vs. Food.)

After a couple more bites, however, I decided to, if you may, throw in the towel.
A picture worth a thousand words. Some of which are "dismayed" and "soporific"
Dennis, on the other hand, refused to give up just yet:

He managed to reduce the monster to this:


 Oh, wait. I forgot about the fries:

Ultimately, both of us admitted defeat. As Adam Richman would say, in the grand battle that is Man vs. Food, last night in Zark's Burgers Katipunan, Food won.

For now... Muhahaha.

3.) It's a trap! After our failure to beat the Jawbreaker, Dennis and I decided to leave and look for dessert. During our walk, we discussed that, had we not consumed other dishes, knocking out the Jawbreaker would have been a huge probability. But alas, we could only manage to leave this in our wake:
What happened to the other plate? There were three. Yes, we ate it too. 
In any case, we trod the Katipunan joint and gawked at the sight of numerous foodscapes. We agreed to come back soon to try the others. Woohoo! 

So we then took a left on a street with a KFC on its corner. I wanted to wash down the taste of defeat, er, I mean, meat. We spotted Moonleaf and I convinced Dennis to try out Milk Tea.

We went inside and studied our choices. I went for the Pearl Milk Tea; Dennis had the Pudding Milk Tea (70php each). While Dennis was paying for our orders, I noticed that one side of the wall was strewn with cork boards. There was already a bunch of colorful notes stuck to them. I saw the stack of paper from the counter and took one. I looked for something to write with and saw a blue Faber Castle felt tip marker lying on the CPU of the POS machine. I grabbed it and hurriedly went to a table. I was about to sit down when it was announced that our Milk Teas were done. I fetched our teas and plunked down on a chair beside Dennis. You can't really tell which is which but here's a picture of them anyways:

 Later on, I uncapped the marker and began doodling. Here's what I came up with:
Don't I have talent, or what?
After posting this on the cork board, I drove the straw into the Milk Tea and started sipping. Dennis did the same. After two sips, however, he started making a face. "It's a trap!" he yelped. I chuckled. Milk Tea is an acquired taste, I guess. Well, I sort of like it. It washed down the cloying sensation I was feeling from eating all that greasy meat. 

My cup was almost half-empty when I told Dennis that he should at least try and drink some of the tea. He took his tall cup and started sipping. Moments later, while I was busy adding some more details to my doodle, I heard gurgling sounds from my left. I looked over to Dennis as he plopped his cup onto the table. I peered over and couldn't believe what I saw. He finished the whole thing! My eyes were darting from the empty cup to Dennis, mouthing "what happened?" in the process. What happened? Haha. Whatever transpired, it was big of Dennis to go through that. I felt a little guilty. Hehe.

Anyway, here's what my revised doodle looked like:
Can you spot the difference?
We found that the lighting in Moonleaf was very good so, naturally, more pictures:

We left Moonleaf a little past nine. We decided to walk our way back to the overpass. The plan was I'd walk Dennis to the LRT station and I'd hail a ride home from there. Unfortunately, the guard on duty informed us that the LRT had already closed down for the night. So we walked back towards the overpass and got on a jeepney. Dennis said he'd get off at Junction and ride a bus to Quiapo from there. After taking a seat, however, (nakasabit kasi siya nung una) he informed me that he'd just go home and spend the night at his house. He would just go back to his dorm the morning after. I liked this idea better.

After getting off the jeep, Dennis walked me to my house. I asked him if he's happy. He smiled and said yes. :)

BOTTOMLINE

I told Dennis that I've now felt a need to spend every holiday, every special occasion by his side. I mean, you know, more intensely than before. It's alright if we don't get to spend the entire day together--a couple of hours would do just fine. This is why I was insistent on being with him on his birthday. Sweet lang, di ba? 

So, I got to spend time with Dennis on his birthday, make him smile, and have an unforgettable dinner. Not bad for a less-than-five-hours bonding. Hehe. More birthdays to come and celebrate together, loves ko!

Cheers to the next adventure!

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