First, there was 7-Eleven and their Slurpee. Then, there was Mini-Stop with their fried chicken. Two years ago, Family Mart made their compact triangles of tuna mayo onigiri all the rage. Now, there’s Lawson. As Puregold’s bid to enter the convenience store industry, the Japanese convenience store giant is slated to open at least 50 branches in Manila by the end of the year. They first broke ground sometime in March, and a few branches have already been spotted in different parts of the city. The following are what might just make Lawson’s products measure up against those of its formidable competitors:
1. Cucumber Lemonade (PHP 22 for 12 oz.)
What is it? It’s lemonade that’s flavored with cucumbers (as if the highlighter green color didn’t clue you in already).
Hit it or skip it? Hit it. Whenever you swing by Lawson, you’ll always see at least three customers ordering this drink, and for good reason. As with the house iced tea, the lemonade is subtly sweet, and the fresh, rather vegetable-like scent of the cucumber makes for a refreshing twist.
2. GoNuts Donuts’ Pastillas de Leche Donut (PHP 25 each)
What is it? Lawson has partnered with GoNuts Donuts to make the latter’s offerings available in their store. The Pastillas de Leche Donut is described as a “creamy, dreamy pastillas stuffed into a delicate donut wrap.”
Hit it or skip it? Hit it. Don’t be fooled by its modest appearance. This donut is an absolute winner; the dough is both chewy and moist, and the dulce de leche filling is a luscious, velvety caramel.
3. Guru-Guru Hotdog Twist (PHP 49 each)
What is it? This is Lawson’s answer to another of the great convenience store staples: the hotdog sandwich. Rather than putting the hotdog in a bun, it’s placed inside a dough twist that’s sprinkled with sugar, and then fried to a golden brown crisp.
Hit it or skip it? Skip it. The dough covering is pleasant enough, and the hotdog inside it is even filled with cheese, but a classic hotdog bun with a generous helping of Manhattan dressing still wins over this. Perhaps it’s partly because there’s no risk of it burning the roof of your mouth when eaten.
4. Lawson Original Iced Tea (PHP 22 for 12 oz.)
What is it? This dark, amber-colored liquid is Lawson’s take on the ubiquitous chilled brew.
Hit it or skip it? Hit it. Anyone who genuinely likes iced tea should give this one a try. Lawson’s iced tea actually tastes like real tea that was steeped in hot water, chilled, and then sweetened with a light hand. It has a citrusy fragrance, and a honeyed sweetness that doesn’t leave a sticky, sugary residue on your taste buds.
5. BreadTalk’s Baked Bacon and Corn Sandwich (PHP 39 each)
What is it? BreadTalk is another brand that Lawson teamed up with to expand their offerings. The Baked Bacon and Corn Sandwich is comprised of corn, bacon, and cheese sandwiched between three slices of toasted bread.
Hit it or skip it? Skip it. While a lot of people like bacon, corn, and cheese, the combination of all three in a sandwich just seems a little off. This sandwich would be much better if it was simply stuffed with bacon and cheese.
6. Bamboo Charcoal Green Tea Mix Ice Cream (PHP 25 for a single-serve “swirl to the max”)
What is it? It’s supposedly a duo of “charcoal” and green tea-flavored soft-serve ice cream. The cashier gives you a big waffle cone upon purchase, and you use it to catch as much of the cascading swirls of frozen cream as you can.
Hit it or skip it? It could go either way. This certainly looks impressive, with the other half of the ice cream mix looking as black as charcoal indeed. It did have a smooth and creamy texture, but it didn’t taste as vividly as it was colored. The charcoal part wasn’t charcoal-flavored at all (thank goodness), and if there was any matcha in the mix, it seems to have escaped. Hit this if you’re hankering for a big serving of something cold and sweet, but get your matcha soft serve fix elsewhere.
7. Unli-Rice (PHP 9 additional as a fried chicken side dish, PHP 20 additional for other fried items)
What is it? As much rice as you need to polish off every last bit of the fried chicken or any other fried food on your plate.
Hit it or skip it? Hit it, especially if you’re ordering the fried chicken, which can very well hold its own against the other contenders, by the way. The tender, richly-flavored dark meat, and the salty chicken skin are best eaten with all the rice that your stomach can handle. The rice grains are on the dry side, but that’s nothing a few spoonfuls of the thick house gravy can’t fix. Now, if they could only come up with an unlimited amount of those…
Lawson has yet to become a household name, but it’s as good a place as any to satisfy the munchies at any point in the day. If its initial offerings are an indication of what can be expected from this latest contender, then there’s much to be looked forward to.
Do you think Lawson will be as successful as the rest of the convenience store chains in the Philippines? What’s your favorite convenience store item? Sound off below!
Lawson Convenience Store
Address: GF, The Pearl Place, Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City