22 Jul2012

Bargain Hunting…

by Marketman

How much would you pay for these “crumpled” porcelain cups/glasses? So thin they are almost translucent in the sun, these light cups are of Japanese provenance, probably machine made. Though so modern in feel, they are reminiscent of those classic crumpled cups designed in 1975 by Rob Brandt, a dutch based artist. See this 6 year old post for a glimpse of the original cups, which we have managed to purchase 8 or 10 of over the years. If you want to buy the “original” see this site for a close up look and current prices. The concept of a “crumpled” water or espresso cup is now done by Revol, that well-known French ceramics manufacturer, as well as others. Cheaper knock-offs from China can also be found…

At any rate, I was at the FTI market last Saturday, and noticed that the second hand, surplus, ceramic ukay ukay stall that I occasionally visit was chock-full of recent arrivals. I featured buys from the same seller just over a year ago in this previous post. I decided to browse and spotted this light green box. A quick peek inside immediately put my “bargain antennae” on full alert. I asked the vendor how much she wanted for the cups and she gave me a price. I browsed some more, and asked the prices of some other items.

I started to bargain in earnest, and she finally came down to a price I was thrilled with and I asked her to wrap up the cups…

…the box contained five apparently unused cups, all of them with the stickers of the manufacturers. Japanese goods like these that are boxed are sold in odd, not even numbers, hence the count of 5. I have always admired that of Japanese aesthetics — odd numbers definitely do seem more pleasing to the eye — note when flower arranging odd numbers of distinct flowers are far more appealing than arrangement of uniformly even flower count… And on a platter of tempura shrimp, they will almost always be served by 3’s or 5’s, not a half dozen pieces…

Back at home, we washed the cups and photographed them outdoors. They were fantastic, not a blemish on any of the five cups. They are rather large in size, and I am not sure if they are meant for cold drinks, like a cool tea, or if they are intended for hot drinks instead. I tried them out with a freshly squeezed dalandan juice and they had a wonderful feel in the palm. I was definitely a very happy camper with this unexpected market find.

The price? PHP500 for the box of 5 cups or PHP100 per cup. US$2.40 per cup! A fantastic bargain, in my opinion. I wish they had more! I am always super THRILLED to find bargains like this in the midst of a market stall that frankly appears to be filled with mostly junk. But again, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. :) My only lingering concern is that they might be slightly radioactive. :(



  1. mara says:

    I think you’ll be fine unless you suddenly glow in the dark. :)

    Jul 22, 2012 | 7:56 am


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  3. boopsie says:

    Beautiful Cups!
    Does the vendor in FTI have more of that in stock?

    Jul 22, 2012 | 9:54 am

  4. millet says:

    whoa! i, too, am a sucker for japanese ukay-ukay porcelain, and we used to have a lot of those here in davao. i have a small collection of the thinnest cups, (yes, almost translucent!) bowls, plates, etc., but my favorites are the tiny chopstick rests. great find, MM!

    Jul 22, 2012 | 10:47 am

  5. Joey in Dubai says:

    Whoa, what a find! And thanks for that very much-informative tidbit on the Japanese “odd” art of arrangement.

    Jul 22, 2012 | 12:04 pm

  6. bitoy says:

    good day..off topic. Good to see again on tv.hehehe

    Jul 22, 2012 | 12:29 pm

  7. dianne says:

    yup, thrilled to see you on tv last night :) just want to share – a friend based in Cebu posted on facebook, asking when cebuanos will get to have their own Bonchon outlet. i said i’ve been asking the same question about Zubuchon here in Manila. MM, i’m gonna keep bugging you til your eardrums bleed. hehe ;)

    Jul 22, 2012 | 2:25 pm

  8. Wendy says:

    Hey MM watced you on jessica soho last night! Yum yum. Hubby was impressed told him to eat in zubochon. Now he always reads your blog. Another fan!

    Jul 22, 2012 | 2:53 pm

  9. joey says:

    They are gorgeous MM! So jealous and yet another sign telling me to go father afield! I would brave radioactivity for these lovelies :) Maybe you’ll get special powers ;)

    Jul 22, 2012 | 7:08 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Joey, if they had more, I would have taken the lot… But it’s definitely hit and miss with these vendors… but some patience and a good eye can yield some really nice finds. It’s the kind of place magazine props people should get to EARLY on a Saturday, to stock up on unusual plates for photo shoots… :) Wendy, I just saw the show on youtube… :) dianne, from what I understand, some folks are trying to bring Bonchon to Cebu… so maybe soon. As for Manila for Zubuchon… it’ll be a while… :) boopsie, this was the only box… but I think they get containers filled with stuff, so it might show up again in the weeks ahead…

    Jul 22, 2012 | 7:51 pm

  11. dlanor briones says:

    Dianne, Bonchon is opening soon at Ayala Center Cebu (replacing Don Henrico’s).
    Here’s a link of a photo taken at ACC showing a big tarpaulin of Bonchon coming
    to Cebu!



    Jul 22, 2012 | 8:15 pm

  12. rvinno says:

    Off topic but IMG_5776 looks excellent for HDR photography, since this “crumpled” style gives a lot of shadows. You might wanna pursue that haha.

    Jul 22, 2012 | 8:28 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    rvinno, I had never heard of HDR photography until I read your comment. So I googled and looked it up… COOL! :)

    Jul 22, 2012 | 8:42 pm

  14. lee says:

    In making the vegetable dish laswa, the kind of vegetables used should be odd. 3, 5′ and 7 and never even.

    Jul 22, 2012 | 9:33 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    lee, hahahaha. :) I wonder if humans would look more visually appealing with three eyes, ears and nostrils…

    Jul 22, 2012 | 9:41 pm

  16. rvinno says:

    Haha, I’m not really a photographer, but that image just reminded me of HDR (although I tried before, wala lang enough time to really dedicate myself into it), anyway, I know with the kind of dedication that you put into things, if ever you venture into photography, or HDR photography, the result would definitely be magnificent..

    Jul 22, 2012 | 10:07 pm

  17. Katrina says:

    I love them, MM! Those are definitely my type of tableware, as I do prefer more modern, unusual, and unique designs to the traditional ones. (Not surprising to know that about me, I’m sure.) I LOVE ukay-ukay or thrift store shopping! When I was furnishing my place, I went to Evangelista St. in Makati, which is known to get the cast-offs from the nearby subdivisions. I’ve only been there a couple of times, so I’ve not been as lucky, but I have friends who’ve taken home really amazing finds like artwork and luggage formerly owned by the wealthy from Forbes Park, etc. And back when ukay-ukay clothes shops were not yet common in Manila, my friends and I would scour the ones in Baguio. We’d spend the whole day going through every single rack. It seems tedious and overwhelming at first, UNTIL you discover the first find. Then you can’t help but keep going — we’d bring home at least one extra-large trash bag each, stuffed with clothes! Bargain-hunting is really a thrill, whether it’s for ceramics or clothes. :-)

    Jul 22, 2012 | 11:37 pm

  18. pixienixie says:

    What gorgeous cups! Unconventional, yet they can complement almost any setting given their color. Sigh….I want some of those. You have a knack for taking pictures that make us want to grab the items on the screen MM! :D

    Jul 23, 2012 | 8:13 am

  19. Anthony says:

    where can we buy a Geiger counter in Philippines? :)

    Jul 23, 2012 | 10:18 am

  20. edel says:

    there are 2 japanese surplus shops along sta rosa if you are tagaytay bound. both shops are on the left side of the road if you are tagaytay bound. the first one has cheaper prices than the other one. the last time we went there, i was able to buy tea-cups for only P20-40 each. you can also buy tea-cups (sets), costs between P150-300. you can still haggle. lots of other japanese items also like plates, bento boxes, figurines, japanese dolls and bicycles, etc.

    Jul 23, 2012 | 10:21 am

  21. Pin44 says:

    Hi MM, my siblings and I are going home this coming September to attend a family reunion in Tacloban, Leyte. We would also like to visit Cebu and go to one of the Zubuchon Restaurants. A cousin suggested that we could take the ferry from Tacloban to Cebu. Could you please give us direction on how to find your nearest restaurant after we get off the ferry. We’ll really appreciate your help. Thank you in advance.

    Jul 23, 2012 | 12:50 pm

  22. Dianne says:

    thanks MM, dlanor briones! i’ll tell my friend about it. i’ll be in cebu on Wednesday, zubuchon and kamias shake ftw!!! God really does answers prayers!!! :)

    Jul 23, 2012 | 1:15 pm

  23. Clarissa says:

    That’s cheap? I thought they were expensive. Hahaha. Until you mentioned in the next sentence (of the last paragraph) that you were thrilled, I was like, “P100?!” But even with all my blogging, I have yet to be a purveyor of different kinds of plates/glasses/etc. I bought colorful ceramic plates ones, on sale, P12.50 each :P For now, I’m happy to not spend on anything and use my mom’s stuff :D

    Jul 23, 2012 | 2:16 pm

  24. Dianne says:

    MM, i came across this site while planning out my first ever zubuchon dine-in experience. is this for real?
    Call + (office hours) or mobile at 0917.627.4761 on weekends and off hours. Look for Victor, Beverly, Roger or Eva.
    Email Zubuchon at zubufoods@yahoo.com

    Jul 23, 2012 | 7:57 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Dianne, yes, that was a legitimate blog post. Zubuchon does airfreight whole lechons to Manila, for pick up at the domestic airport… and the landline number in that post is correct. We don’t deliver the other dishes, however. :)

    Jul 23, 2012 | 9:36 pm

  26. ami says:

    This reminds me of a small ceramics store beside a bridge in Tsukiji market.

    Jul 24, 2012 | 8:37 am

  27. gm says:

    lots of good finds also in Dapitan arcade :)

    Jul 24, 2012 | 4:09 pm

  28. wil-b says:

    I always get stuff from the ceramic/glass stall in the weekend markets, lots of good finds for serving and food styling. . . great for photos. . . though I have to restrain myself from buying these stuff, I’m slowly filling up all my shelves hehehe wala nang space.

    Jul 24, 2012 | 4:14 pm

  29. MiMac says:

    I remember a Japanese officemate who mentioned to me that when they give wedding gifts (knives, plates, etc)– they’re always in odd numbers, too. This way, it will be hard to equally divide the stuff if the couple decide to part ways. I wonder if there is any truth to it though. heheh :)

    Jul 24, 2012 | 5:06 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Pin44, my apologies, I must have missed your comment… the largest Zubuchon outlet (which is still quite small) is located at One Mango Mall. Tell the cab driver from the pier/ferry to head to Mango Avenue (now officially General Maxilom Avenue) and we are located 20 meters BEHIND the large Sunburst Chicken restaurant. By mid-September, we will hopefully have our new Escario Centrale location open as well. That is located on Escario Street, between McDonalrd’s and the Shell Gas Station.

    Jul 25, 2012 | 7:04 am

  31. Vee says:

    As it is summer, I have time to spend (am a teacher) on the web looking for blogs to read. I stumbled, happily mind you, upon your blog while looking to satisfy my Moroccan husband’s palate. He liked your wife’s Chicken Tagine recipe. I’m still waiting for him to bring a tagine back after his yearly visit there. He travels light so I better look for Le Crueset tagine.

    Like many of your readers, I am learning so much from you and your musings. I also saw you on Jessica Soho as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Jul 26, 2012 | 5:45 am

  32. Dianne says:

    MM! i was in cebu yesterday and was able to finally have my very first zubucon experience!!! weeee! super elated, i wanted to cry. (for real!) the crew was nice, the food was amazing, wi-fi signal was really strong :) hope you can bring the wonderful zubuchon experience to manila soon… sorry, i cant help it. hehe… more power to you, your family and your staff, MM! God bless! may you continue to bless the world with your wonderful posts and mouthwatering zubuchon concoctions :) -fangirl Dianne

    Jul 26, 2012 | 1:44 pm

  33. K.P. says:

    The label on the box does say “Arita-yaki.” You got a good bargain indeed.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 9:30 pm


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