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Here’s another franchise food enterprise you may want to invest in. The company is called “Rice in a Box” and claims to have originated in 1999 in Manila’s Chinatown. Those interested in starting up a business as this should visit their site.

They have several types of franchise packages starting from a small cart up to a small diner. Where we ate, however was just a kiosk located in the food gallery section of Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, so I cannot comment on the ambience. So let’s start with the food.

The Beef Teriyaki Teppanyaki was okay. The sauce was as you would expect, a bit sweet with a hint of ginger. I’m sure there are more flavorful teriyaki sauces out there, but hey, this is franchise food. I personally love the bean sprouts, so just a heads up to those who don’t like them, you could always request them to leave it out.

I’m a bit confused at the name of this dish because traditional teriyaki is either broiled or grilled while teppanyaki is more of a stir fried style of cooking. In this instance they used the usual fast-food griddle to stir fry the lot. This dish cost about Php 59.00 (US$ 1.37) so the fact the taste isn’t outstanding isn’t that bothering to me.

The Pork Barbecue Teppanyaki tasted better but not that much. The picture of the dish on their site contained corn, an ingredient that could have had a significant effect on the taste, but the lack of it on our order is probably the reason why I did not enjoy it.

It cost the same as the Beef Teriyaki so I still would consider it a bargain meal.

Chowfan is basically fried rice with choice toppings. The Beef and Mushroom Chowfan of “Rice in a Box” is arguably the best tasting among the dishes we ordered.  It is probably because of the mushrooms. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like mushrooms? And I don’t mean the “magical” kind, okay.

Costing Php 55.00 (US$ 1.27), it still fills the belly without slashing your pockets.

Finally, we go to the Ham and Cheese Chowfan. The portions of ham are generous enough but the cheese could be a little more prominent. Let’s put it this way, I didn’t taste the cheese. I don’t know if they forgot to put some in or they just use a product of inferior quality.

Among the four, the Ham and Cheese Chowfan is the cheapest priced at Php 43.00 (US$ 1.00), but is the least satisfying when it comes to taste. Filling? Yes. Delicious? No.

I think the main problem about these dishes is the kind of rice they used. A few years back I tried some of their food and compared to the recent ones I had and concluded they used to taste better. I distinctly recall the rice they used was a bit sticky and had smaller grains. If I could risk a guess, at one point in time they may have actually used the more expensive japonica or a good substitute for it. As of now they obviously use the more economical grains, as a means to keep the prices down and ultimately sacrificing taste for affordability.

Final analysis: Good for the busy person looking for a quick meal to get rid of hunger pains. As for savoring the taste, don’t look for any because there’s not much to savor.

Final rating for taste; two and a half stars out of five.

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