Miss Saigon

I remember the best kare-kare I ever had was at The Aristocrat, at Taft Avenue in Manila--which is strange, because the restaurant is better known for their barbecued chicken.

But the kare-kare there is excellent--tender oxtails and tripe, crisp bright-green vegetables, all in a thick, sweet, bright-orange soup, served in a palayok (a clay pot) with a little fire burning underneath. Comes with hot rice and a bowl of pungent shrimp paste.

The meal was the aftermath of a night at the theater...some moron had had the bright idea of spending millions of totally unnecessary dollars to stage Miss Saigon in Manila, complete with Lea Salonga as the eponymous hooker. Tickets were a hot item and long since sold out (Salonga is something of a heroine to Filipinos, even if she's much too healthy-looking to play a Vietnamese refugee, and is about as expressive and sensuous an actress as a department-store mannequin, twenty pounds overweight). I wasn't very interested, but a friend and fan of the musical had access to tickets, and gave me a pair, so I went.

Afterwards, we talked over the phone, and he asked me how was the show. I said "It was worth every penny!"

"Your tickets were for free."

"That's exactly what I meant!"

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