It was four days of tiring and yet satisfying work. It is really hard to be both, Food Stylist and Photographer. I recently finished a four-day project with Sango burger, and in those 4 days, I learned a helluvalot from it. First off, if you’re planing to be both the food stylist and photographer, expect very little break time. I found myself styling and photographing almost endlessly since it gave me extra pressure not to make my food wait too long or else I’d have to resuscitate it after it dies. Then I have to hope that when it does happen, that it will still be good enough for the camera.
Yes, for the first time, I also didn’t have an assistant. But I had lots of help from Sango’s Ortigas staff, Kuya Rod, Romy, Ann and Mhe-ann, who were all wonderful and who all made me feel very welcome. Patrick, my boss for the meantime, had a lot of patience was always open to ideas, which made the shoot flow smoothly.
I encountered a few bumps on the way but I was able to work around it, my boss for the four days, Pat, was pretty open to opinions and ideas. Aside from sorting and seeking out the perfect buns, greens, etc, the challenge was usually either making great looking layers (since they had a lot of available food pictures, I was able to see what not to do) or how to keep things looking fixed despite the short amount of time I alotted for the project.
So why am I blogging about this?
My “employee’s” meals.
During my first visit to Sango, I’ve always wondered how come I’ve been missing out on such a wonderful “hole-in-the-wall” burger joint. One thing about this place is that it serves, unique, freshly made (yes, they are all cooked only when you order them…I’ve seen it!) food. I always had a fear that on day 3 I would probably be looking for something else, but in Sango, their huge menu (despite their “best-sellers”) is definitely something a foodie might want to explore. Have you ever heard of a Hotdog Sandwich with the hot dog split in the middle and stuffed with it’s wonderfull toppings? Or a freshly made rice burger (give it a try, McDonald’s was all wrong introducing us to THAT kind of rice burger…UGH), or a heavenly Gyudon…whose texture and flavor seemed so comforting for my heavy workload. Because Patrick is a food lover who wants to share his discoveries with everyone, he gave me the “courage” to tread the waters of Sango’s not-as-best-selling-as-the-Master-Burger’s items…which made me wonder why people who make the master burger the bestseller, don’t try to make these items the bestsellers too. 😉
Here are my discoveries despite styling most of the stuff in their menu…(and oh yeah, Pat, watch out for Sango 2 also in Mile Long…heheh joke!)
“Wow I like the mustard, it’s a nice touch to the whole thing”. I still remember how this sandwich was built, but this was my first day morning snack, when Patrick wanted me to have a piece of the fish burger. Made with real fresh fish (I saw them shaping it and breading it), the fish burger is a wonderful play of subtle flavors and textures. Texture wise, the breaded fillet is crunchy on the outside but tender on the inside, which complements the diced onions. And being a Japanese restaurant, the nice combination of Jap mayo and Jap mustard both come into play, cutting down the fish, but not totally covering the taste. The onions too helped bring out a bolder flavor with the fish.
Best of all since I saw it being made while I was prepping that morning, it just gave me a broader view of why this fillet was a lot more special than the commercial fast foods and frozen stuff you get in the supermarket…it’s honest to goodness made out of real fresh fish!
Master Cheese Burger
I decided to eat this as my first meal. I actually wondered why. I think I just wanted to eat something familiar since I enjoyed it when I went to Sango the week before. See my previous Master burger review…just add the lovely gooey cheese that added a more umami dimension to the whole thing. YUM!
Yakiniku Kimuchi Rice Burger
“I hate Kimchi but i love the Yakiniku Kimuchi Rice Burger” says Ross. Patrick was trying to make me eat something else, but I was craving for kimchi…and the yakiniku rice burger which was their bestseller…and what better way to have both is to order the Yakiniku Kimuchi Rice Burger YUM! This is the first time I actually craved for a rice burger. I think eversince I tried the rice burger the few days before the project, I had a lingering longing for it. The rice burger is made out of real Japanese rice (which is expensive, mind you) and is formed and grilled fresh to make a bun. Then the yakiniku is cooked in their special sauce and stuffed in the burger. The meat is tender, with a creamy buttery note. The kimuchi is well-fermented and compliments the richness of the beef. It also adds a little crunch since the beef is so tender. There are also pieces of green ice lettuce for an added hint of flavor and freshness to the overall rice burger. again…YUM!
The master fries is like a monster…it’s messy with a lot of Sango’s master sauce and gooey because of the melted cheese. But, it is just fantastic. It might be a meal in itself or a great snack for those who enjoy toppings on their fries. The onions and ketchup are added flavors to the already good sauce, aside from the added texture dimension.
“Mhe-Ann bakit ang laki nyan”, “Ganun po talaga!” “Wow eh di sulit yan!”.
We had regulars who bought the sundae cones in the four days that i was there. People went in, and had sundae cones when they left. And how can you miss a sundae cone like that…IT WAS HUGE! I even wondered how the cone was still intact holding all that weight up. It’s simply a soft served ice cream…the kind you had when you were a kid…only bigger. :p
I styled this hotdog and it looked so unique I wanted to try it. It is a salad sandwich with a pleasant hotdog surprise inside. I love fresh vegetables, and this sandwich is just the thing when I’m looking for a vegetable fix without having to skip the meat. Besides, it really makes me wonder why the hotdog had a nice bacon-y taste to it…it started to make me wonder if bacon was cooked right beside it. The sauces served as the dressing for the salad, which was doused outside the sandwich. Again, the two secret sauces made all the difference. And the veggies, hotdog and bread were all lovely textures.
“Before I style you, I have to know you” and so I had it for lunch. It made me wonder why the egg seemed mixed into the dish…my only taste of Gyudon honestly were the ones from the typical Jap fast foods here like Tokyo Tokyo and Yoshinoya…their Gyudons were safe. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect to discover a gyudon that was so memorable, I began telling all their customers how good it was while i was working…THIS IS THE GYUDON. Not only is the beef tender and perfectly marinated, but the egg along with the beef creates a richer taste and a very comforting texture…warm, soft, almost gooey in contrast with the beef’s bold taste and the Japanese rice’s firm texture. The nori that was topped on the gyudon gave it a surprisingly pleasant umami dimension whenever I would bite into it. Again, masarap yung gyudon dito…I am not kidding!!!
In my four days of styling and shooting, I always looked forward to Patrick saying, “Ooh Giannina it’s time for your snack”, and me picking out the nice little origami animals I can bring home.
I found myself coming back to the Gyudon the Saturday after the job, I also started missing the radical japanese MTV’s that played on while I was working. 🙂
And oh, as an end thought, hopefully within a few weeks or a month, when you come into Sango, hopefully you will see better images, hehe. 😉