At MAQ’s, chicken comes cheap

Jun. 29, 2007

A great lunch for only 20 pesos? In Davao City, that’s not impossible.

By Angely Chi
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Fried chicken and rice for only 20 pesos?

That’s not impossible in Davao City. You can find such a cheap treat in most eateries around town. But the question now is, Does 20 pesos include quality food, sanitary utensils and surroundings, and good service?

At Maq’s Deep Fried Chicken, a small fastfood that has branches in the city, 20 pesos is what you pay for a good meal — and more.

I found this out during a recent stroll along Jacinto Street, just outside the south gate of the Ateneo de Davao University. I was on my way to catch a jeepney to the Agdao public market for an afternoon of ukay-ukay when my stomach began to growl. I had to look for a place to eat.

Eateries and restaurants, along with photocopying centers, line the mouth of Jacinto Street where students from Ateneo flock during their break time and lunch hours. I surveyed the eateries by their front and found one that stood out. Beside a photocopying center was a distinct establishment with a thick red and yellow striped motif on its counter and a large signboard that announced “MAQ’s Deep Fried Chicken, 1 Piece Chicken + Rice for only P20.00.”

They Do Fried Chicken Cheap. The name and the product may give a hint of a ripoff but students flock to this small chicken house just the same. ( photo by Angely Chi)

Great, I thought, while taking mental note of the limited food budget I had that day. I stepped into the establishment and found it spacious enough to accommodate droves of people, mostly students, who ate their meals heartily on thick wooden tables with wooden benches in the first half of the fastfood and on black-topped tables with stools at the other end. It also had several electric fans distributed well in the fastfood’s interior to battle the noontime heat. Uniformed service crews in red shirts and capped heads swiftly went around the tables, clearing the emptied plates and other leftovers and cleaning the tabletops with disinfectant.

I stood in front of the counter near the entrance and eyed the glass case on one end of the counter with newly cooked chicken inside. A crew member behind the counter looked up at me and said, Yes, ma’am, what will you have?

A chicken and rice, I replied.

Ma’am, maybe you’d also like to look at our other offerings, she said, showing me the large board posted behind the counter containing a photo display of the food they serve. There were seven meals and one dessert, each costing barely half a student’s allowance.

I surveyed the meals and their prices. There was meal No. 1, a 30-peso serving of sizzling chicken sisig, two Shanghai lumpia and rice. Meal No. 2 — a one piece chicken, two Shanghai lumpia and rice, worth 25 pesos. Meal No. 3 — sizzling chicken sisig with egg and rice, also for 25 pesos. Meal No. 4, 20-peso worth of one piece chicken and rice meal. Meal No. 5, another 20-peso worth of sizzling chicken sisig with rice. Meal no. 6, a gobletful of tropical fruit salad worth 15 pesos. Meal No. 7 is MAQ’s beefy burger with a side dish of potato chips, worth 25 pesos. Meal No. 8, a plateful of Royal white spaghetti with two bread slices, worth 20 pesos.

“What will you have, ma’am?” the crew asked. I ran my eyes over the choices, which all looked tasteful and tempting, not to mention really cheap. I fumbled for an answer while my mind swung between the choice of the chicken and rice meal and the sizzling chicken sisig and rice meal. I decided to go for the 20-peso chicken sisig plate. But faced with more inexpensive options, I decided to stretch my lunch budget to 35 pesos to include the refreshing tropical fruit salad dessert.

The service person smiled, handed me a numbered wooden block and told me to pay, sit and wait.

You don’t wait long enough for your order to get served by an aproned waiter. Food here only takes five short minutes to prepare.

MAQ’s servings are generous despite the low price. My sizzling chicken sisig with rice was quite a plateful. The smell of garlic was heavenly. I forked a few hot chicken bits and nibbled them. I found out that one cup of rice wasn’t enough with such a tasty viand. The tropical fruit salad was just as it was depicted on the photo by the counter, a gobletful of fruits. The salad, whipped cream on top, had thick slices of four fruit varieties — mango, papaya, watermelon and lacatan banana.

I lost no time in enjoying my meal. I was greatly comforted by the thought that it only cost me 35 pesos to have a great lunch. (Angely Chi/

comments powered by Disqus