Tray’s Anatomy: The 120 PHP Challenge (7-Eleven vs. Ministop vs. Family Mart)March 15, 2019
When the clock strikes 12, I look around the office, searching for signs that my officemates are as hungry as I am. We’re all eager to get off our seats and head out to lunch, but it’s always the same question that leaves us stumped; where to go?
If we’re looking to save money, there’s always the ever reliable Jollibee or McDonald’s or KFC, but then I picture the long queues we’d surely encounter, and my stomach grumbles in protest. Instead, today I go for another of man’s greatest inventions, the 24-hour convenience store (specifically, the ones right across my office building).
Since I squandered most of my December paycheck on my army of inaanak last Christmas, my wallet deserves a little break.I decide that for lunch, I’ll spend no more than PHP 120. But which among the three most common convenience stores can give me the best value for my money? Which establishment has the most unique offerings? Let’s find out.
I enter 7-Eleven and immediately head for their colorful DIY hotpot station. The base, which is a small clump of instant noodles, costs PHP 12 while the toppings (they range from corn to fishballs to lobster sticks) are either PHP 10 or PHP 15 per piece. You could whip up a pretty satisfying meal for the low price of PHP 50.
What else can I afford? Three pieces of their siomai (PHP 25), a large cup of Slurpee (PHP 25), then I throw in one of those not-so-fresh bananas (PHP 15) from the counter so I could pretend to call this diet “balanced” and “healthy.”
Total cost: PHP 112
Price: 3.5, Variety: 5, Flavor: 3, Quality: 2.5
In many of my Tray’s Anatomy articles, I’ve been bombarded with demands, constant insistent demands, to try Ministop’s fried chicken. When I finally did, it immediately made it to the top of my list, next to Pancake House’s Classic Pan Chicken and Jollibee’s Chickenjoy. Ministop’s version is as crispy and juicy as any other, and yet its got its own unique flavor to set it apart.
Ministop’s two-piece fried chicken meal comes in at PHP 105, but an additional PHP 6 also gets you a regular drink. I’m a fried chicken addict so getting the one-piece meal was never really an option. To make sure I stick to my budget, and because I want to get their Cheesecake Sundae Cone (PHP 15) for dessert (which is also a must-try), I decide to just drink water at the office and opt for the basic PHP 105 meal.
Total cost: PHP 120
Price: 3.5, Variety: 2, Flavor: 5, Quality: 4
It would be nice to have Family Mart’s California Maki for lunch, since they make really good maki compared to those sold at supermarkets. It would, however, eat up much of my limited budget. Instead, I opt for the Tender Juicy Hotdog Meal that comes with a hotdog, rice, and a regular drink, all for PHP 45. I add an additional hotdog for PHP 29 because, well, why not?
Family Mart’s hotdogs are not the best out there, I find them slightly undercooked. I’m actually more excited about their Blue Lemonade, despite knowing that it’s probably 75% sugar. Of course, I might be mistaken and it’s actually 50% food coloring. I also grab one of their adorable Asado Pig Siopao (PHP 20). Too bad it’s a lot less exciting once you take a bite of the poker-faced piglet.
I swirled some Green Tea Sundae into a brown waffle cone (PHP 25) for dessert and impress myself at how big and tall I got my ice cream tower. However, I take one lick and I end up disappointed at how watery the mixture seems to be.
Total spent: PHP 119
Price: 2.5, Variety: 3, Flavor: 2.5, Quality: 3.5
I still love Family Mart, but I’d need a higher budget to really enjoy the best of their unique offerings. On the other hand, while 7-Eleven allowed me more of a shopping spree, considering my limited funds, I still have to give this battle to Ministop. Despite the lack of choices, both Ministop products I tried were consistently good in terms of flavor and quality. For PHP 120, I got a truly satisfying lunch I’d gladly have again any other day.