SM North EDSA opened just before we entered UP Diliman. There were no direct public transport rides at the time from the campus to the mall (the UP-North EDSA jeepneys were franchised a couple of years later) and we had to take 2 rides to get to the mall. One was a ride out to UP via either the Philcoa or Pantranco jeepneys. We usually alighted at Philcoa and walked a few meters to where we could get on a jeepney that originated from Quezon City Hall and terminated near the mall. At the time, the area where the Trinoma mall is now was still occupied by informal settlers and there were eateries and a talipapa (informal wet market) wet market in the area. The jeepney terminal was also informal, mainly some open space where the jeepneys were allowed to park and load and unload passengers.
We frequented the mall during our breaks or after classes when we had time to spare in afternoons depending on our collective schedules. I remember having one semester when I had a rather odd schedule due to the difficulties of manual enlistment at the time. I got one class from 7:00AM-8:30AM followed by another from 11:30AM-12:45PM, and finally one from 4:00PM-5:30PM. An instructor not showing up for one meant a huge hole during a day already having two long lulls between subjects. Our 7:00-8:30AM and 4:00-5:30PM classes were usually the ones that had the more studious professors and so we had quite a number of days when we had to wait out for our 11:30 class and ended up being stood up by the instructor. Those times we usually ended up in the mall if we didn't have anything urgent to accomplish otherwise.
Being college students, we had limited resources (read: our money mainly consisted of our allowances provided by our parents) though there were times when our more affluent classmates treated some of us to a movie or a meal. But most of the time, we had to find inexpensive options for our lunch and that usually led us to the Food Court where we had a number of options aside from the usual fast food from Jollibee and McDonald's. The males among us preferred to be mainly carnivorous considering we were all young and without worries about any ailments. Only our female friends were more conscious about eating healthy food.
And so we ended up with "discovering" Sizzling Plate (not to be confused with the restaurants in the UK and the US), which provided us with a good number of choices, again mostly meat. One friend usually ordered the tenderloin steak and another preferred the T-bone. I had the fondness for the Hungarian sausage if not the sirloin strips that were quite tasty with the Java rice. I remember we always got Pineapple juice for our drinks and it was perfect to go with the meat. At the time, the Pineapple juice drinks were not as diluted as today's. The rice serving was also a little more generous than today's so I guess we had it good at the time in as far as our meals were concerned.
I still eat at Sizzling Plate from time to time and especially when I'm by myself (the Clairvoyant's currently based in Singapore) at an SM mall. I think the franchises are now owned mostly if not partly by SM so it is a mainstay for most if not all their malls' food courts. They have tried to diversify their offerings that now include some seafood options but I noticed some of the old choices like my favorite Hungarians and other sausages that were quite popular back in the day are no longer available in some of their booths. Maybe its a supply chain or a quality control thing but I hope the original menu will be retained for years to come.
Modern Sizzling Plate station at one of the newer SM malls in the city
Garlic stake and java rice on an all too familiar hot plate and a large cup of four seasons drink
There's a similar booth called Sizzlers at the CASAA canteen in UP Diliman. I assume it is a knock-off of Sizzling Plate but then it looks older and more an institution than the one at the malls. We also patronized this for our quick but tasty lunches at UP but I've notice over the years that the quality and quantity has gone down a bit considering I think they tried to keep the prices down to be affordable to most students on a budget. For Sizzling Plate though, I think not much has changed except maybe the prices. Perhaps this was necessary in order to retain the quantity and whatever quality it was that attracted us back when we were university students.