Vegetarian Food in Manila

So technically speaking this omnivore has been to 10 vegetarian food joints in Manila. Why go on such a spree you ask? Well, I just happen to like collecting. Anyway, I haven’t sampled any dishes from Bodhi for a long time so maybe I have to try it out again before I can compare it to the new age vegan joints. It’s been too long ago for Green Halo too so let me visit again before I finalize this list. Chances to check out that carinderia in Coron is bleak especially that lately I can’t even afford to go out of town and finally that vegan joint in the third floor of C.O.D. has been closed for years so I have to scratch it out my list.

This leaves me with 7. My top pick is Greens. Their wide selection, clean taste and ultimately original recipes will impress you. When I say clean taste, I mean a dish is not cheated by overpowering a certain taste or flavor. For instance tofu sisig may be flooded in soy sauce and hot sauce. For burger steaks, it can be smothered in thick and salty gravy so you can’t really tell whether or not it’s beef or tofu in there. Their soups however are too thin and bland while their desserts need a makeover.

My next pick is Vegetarian Kitchen because even if it’s a bit pricey, the big serving makes up for it. The flavors are also adventurous so it’s far from being a boring vegan destination. Third, I pick Corner Tree Café. While the size of their serving does not justify the price, the ambiance of this nook in Makati is perfect for a spontaneous fancy eating place spree.

I like Cafeteria Verde too despite some confusion if they’re really 100% vegan. Pipino, Gandiva Café and Blissful Belly, all had promising menus and interesting dishes that got me curious. However all three did not deliver. It was either too bland, too thin, too watered down or simply too weird to be appreciated.

Again I’m not exactly a vegan, but I do love eating and I have enjoyed several vegan affairs. I also do a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and if I may say so I do just fine.

*I have recently tried Dr. Tam’s and I loved it so I’ll squeeze it in here somewhere in the future alright. I know I have posts of some of these restos but lemme put those links up another time. Cheers!

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Fiery Dynamite (cheese sticks with green chili)

Dynamite is a kind of cheese stick. It’s deep fried with flour, breadcrumbs or lumpia wrapper with green chili for that unmistakable kick and explosive goodness only for the adventurous. Phil, my boyfriend, told me over breakfast that he wanted to try more of that dish which is perfect as a beer match. I told him it’s fine with me but before that we have to see how far we’ve gone.

  1. Gandivas  is the second best here. Despite not liking the other items on their menu. Their dynamite was quite perfect. The intensity of the chili was not as consistent (some are bland and some are super hot so it’s always a surprise) but the presentation, the texture and the perfectly melted cheese made up for it.
  2. Penpens got bits of tinapa in it and while I also do this little recipe at home it wasn’t that good because it needed more cheese and it was too damn greasy. (Draining it before serving might be a good idea especially that it’s too hot to eat right away anyway)
  3. Allys  is also wonderful with bacon wrapped around it but this is not for me. Cheese, which is commonly salty in the Philippines, simply is too much if you pair it with another salty helping. There has to be more filler in there (think Wendy’s baked potato served with melted cheddar with bacon bits, that’s one big potato right?).
  4. Gayuma ni Maria’s also uses lumpia wrapper in place of breadcrumbs for the cheese sticks. The taste was perfect but the texture wasn’t. It was more of chewy than crunchy so maybe they deep fried it without making sure the oil is hot enough for that crisp.
  5. Corner Pub (somewhere near Hundred islands) this, unfortunately, is the best in this list, the kick of the sticks were just right, it’s got the right amount of cheesiness and they nailed the texture, not overcooked crunchy but far from feeling rubbery and the serving was big for its price. I say unfortunate because it’s so far.

Phil tried Goodah’s but since I haven’t I’m not including it in my list. He says he didn’t like it that much because it had ground meat that kinda “interfered” with the creaminess of the cheese and the heat of the green chili and the whole point of “dynamite”. Fiery yes?!

Cafeteria Verde – Robinson’s Galleria

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I sampled the nachos and the paad thai. oth were tasty but I was particularly impressed with the nachos. Of course they had to settle for ordinary cheese but I am guessing that changing the cheese would make the dish spectacular. Supposedly both shouldn’t have meat or seafood but my lips were itchy so I asked the attendant if they used fake shrimp paste or real shrimp paste. The person said it’s real bagoong. I do hope they’re joking because I really thought most of the dishes didn’t have meats. Not that I am a vegetarian but maybe they’d get into trouble in the future if they don’t orient their attendants well. I regretted that I wasn’t able to order more because I was by myself. The menu was quite expensive and many items were intriguing so I probably should have another go. Also, I did not have my camera with me that time so the photos aren’t that pretty.

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Slowly, healthier options are multiplying. It is still far from being perfect or accessible but it’s a start. Cheers!

Chelsea Market and Cafe – Serendra

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It’s our first time to try Chelsea Market and Café and we were about 15 minutes early. And I was in the position to whine because it’s a part of the very late celebration of our 8th anniversary. For breakfast we shared Eggs Benedict (450 pesos) and Peach Mango Rhum Waffles (395 pesos).

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The eggs were perfect and the waffles, divine. And while Hollandaise sauce was not as citrusy as I hoped, slices of oranges made up for it. The bacon was exquisite and the vegetables were fresh. And the dessert? Everything about it was fancy. Both were listed as individual plates but it was more than enough to fill us up. What is breakfast without coffee? Yes we had coffee which was served with Chocnut (110 pesos). It made me smile of course. Was it good? Of course it was. Was it worth it? With that thick slab of double smoked bacon, I guess so. Was it something I’ll go back for? Probably not, it’s still way too expensive and I’m quite confident I can do something close at home (well, given the right ingredients of course).

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We felt like we chose well and we took advantage of every minute of our leisurely breakfast. Here’s to celebrating anniversaries after a month of waiting (impatiently). Cheers man!

Nomnomnom – E. Rodriguez

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Not being a big fan of cheese it’s totally understandable that a foodie such as I was a late bloomer in blue cheese appreciation. Partly it’s waytoo expensive to experiment on. It was Big Sky Mind’s shrooms with garlic dip that first introduced me to blue cheese. It was not even unadulterated as the dip only had faint tones of blue cheese. If you ask me it’s the perfect introductory blue cheese-ish dish for finicky people. Haha! I like how that sounds.

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Anyway I ordered little boy blue pizza from Nomnomnom as I am currently enjoying wonders of the cheese’s rich taste a dish at a time. Jodi ordered Malinomnom, a tinapa pizza. Little boy blue may be too rich for amateurs so order it with beer or something. Malinomnom was a bit too salty for my taste. We also ordered cheese pockets (I can’t remember if it was malunggay in it or what), summer salad and onion rings. Even the deep fried helpings tasted refreshing so whoever is behind the food joint is really good at experimenting. However I would have appreciated the salad more if it wasn’t swimming in dressing. They can toss some dressing in the salad and put some on the side so that people like me won’t be too overwhelmed. Oh but Nomnomnom always delivers, I like it very much and I have recommended it to a number of people.

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It’s not only the food that makes it special. Nomnomnom also has fancy interiors. Whether you want to have a heavy meal or some light snacks, they’d have something for you. In fact they also have coffee and dessert on their menu. If I remember correctly they also serve beer. It’s perfect for friends, for lovers or for people who just visited 10-A Alabama. Cheers!

 

Green Tomato – Shangri-la Mall

Used to blog chronologically. I often have at least 10 posts in line meaning my posts are probably around a month late. Because of that I don’t care anymore which comes first. It usually depends on my mood. For instance if I feel like blogging desserts then I’ll work on those first. Other times I choose the more interesting posts (in terms of food, prices, interiors and other gimmicks). Sometimes I try to skip the negative posts altogether as I doubt if ranting would do me any good.

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Anyway, the long intro is because this joint has been long overdue. Thus, forgetting what the dishes we ordered were called shall be excused! Phil ordered a beef shank in tomato sauce viand while I couldn’t miss the opportunity to order another spinach and truffle pizza. The beef shank was alright I guess but the pizza of course was awesome! I initially wanted to order ravioli but they ran out. As I’ve said in my other posts, it’s a bit annoying when they don’t have what you have picked out after minutes of skimming through the menu. I think after ordering 3 dishes which were not available at the time, I finally gave up and simply asked which were actually available. Lucky them I was happy with the pizza. Haha.

I think restaurants should only put items that they will always have access to. The occasional running out of whatever type of vegetable is alright but if it’s more than one dish that is currently unavailable and it’s on the menu, it is a problem. Think truffle and be happy! Cheers

 

Ziggurat Cuisine Makati

I forget how many times Evan raved about this place and we did plan to check it out a couple of times. But you know people from Q.C. always find it hard to meander to Makati. We considered sampling Damaso subversive Filipino food at Greenbelt 5 because of the lecture we attended earlier that day but I’m glad we went for Ziggurat.

At first glance, Ziggurat cuisine seems like a modest restaurant tucked in one of those shady corners of the redlight district.  Oh but once you have the menu spread in front of you, you’ll know it’s far from being ordinary. It sounded Greek, Persian and Middle Eastern in general. But what’s weird is that there were also curries so it’s also partly Indian and I also saw some African specialties. I honestly am lost as to what just Ziggurat is all about.  It’s one extensive menu (like about 5 restaurants rolled into one) that you’d probably find it difficult to order. Even just the rice variants were a handful.

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Anyway Evan got an order of hummus and some bread for our appetizer. For the main course he ordered vegan kebabs (gluten) and Afghani rice while I got grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions and a bowl of Iraqi Saffron rice. Evan wanted to order mushroom kebabs but it was not available. I also ordered some small items on top of what I ordered but I was told that those had to be pre-ordered. I love both their onion sauce and their hot sauce so almost everything about this food joint is perfect. For dessert, we shared baklava. We were full, yes, but we were already there so I got myself a cup of brewed coffee and chatted away.

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Yes, it was a vegan affair. I like sharing and I won’t be able to share my food if I ordered anything with meat, right? I didn’t crave for meat that night so that says a lot about the food. The spices were a world of wonders (shining shimmering splendid). Well, I did not think that the vegan kebabs tasted like meat but it wasn’t bad at all.

Now I’m really regretting that that Greek cooking class did not push through. I’ll try to find one again soon. Meantime, who wants to go to Ziggurat and sample a fourth of their menu? haha!

 

*less than a week after the first visit, I went back to Ziggurat. I’ll put up a link here soon.

Arya (Podium)

I have every right to be intimidated with Arya because they’re just grand! Can’t believe it took me this long to try out this joint. This cuisine is one of those that I will never say no to but somehow the interiors (and the menu) made me very hesitant. It must be the lavish chandeliers and décor that spelled expensive to me. Anyway it’s not as expensive as I thought. An order can actually be shared by two and the helping of rice was enough for me to worry about my diet. Meantime the meat helping will probably make you a little bit bloated but sharing will make you crave for more. So I guess you can share a platter then get an order of salad or dessert.IMG_2618

I got beef tenderloin and Phil got lamb (not in the photo). It was served with onions, tomatoes and vegetables too so there’s no need to order more.  If there is one thing that really disappointed me, it’s the sauce, it was sweet and tasted close to mayonnaise. And I’m really particular about that. Luckily even though they didn’t have the sauce I wanted they did offer to give me tzatziki when I asked for a “more sour” dip. For the record, my favorite garlic/onion/yoghurt dips include Jerusalem’s (although they charge you for it), Hossein’s, Behrouz (although it seems to be watered down) and Ziggurat. I forget others but I’ll make a list some time.

We had too much rice so we had tea. We really are getting old.

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Gracefully I hope. Cheers!

Manos Greek Taverna – Mall of Asia

The first time I tried Manos Greek Taverna was with Andrea and Jorick in Tagaytay a long time ago. It was grand, tasty and Greek! I love Mediterranean cuisine and I feel sorry for people who find it too exotic. My dad for instance makes faces when I suggest that we eat at similar restos. It’s such a shame especially that he always travels. Anyway, we ordered baked lamb with potatoes and rice. I thought it was the perfect meal although it was too filling that we weren’t able to finish both the rice and the potatoes. Perfect resto before watching Aerosmith live. I have some photos of me in the resto but I can’t find them at the moment. I’ll just update this another time.

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Oh but do check this place out. We were the only customers last time. At least now you don’t have to go all the way to Tagaytay to try their fare. Cheers!

Zucchini’s

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This fancy lunch was not planned thus I sadly missed on taking wonderful photos of the food as well as the interiors of Zucchini’s. We ordered pumpkin soup, lamb and risotto and sea urchin pasta. The pumpkin soup aromatic yet refreshing and I love it that they used spring onions, sour cream and basil (I’ve got to try it at home!). It’s not thin but not too thick either so you wouldn’t get tired of this helping.

I did not like Phil’s order because the marinade almost overpowered the taste of lamb. Maybe I just can’t learn to love sweet marinades such as barbecue sauces. There was nothing fancy about the risotto but the side dish was a big surprise. The carrots were so flavorful and I don’t have an idea how they did it. I could identify garlic and parsley but there was something else in it. Or was it the carrot that was fresh and sweet?

The sea urchin pasta was really rich but not that spectacular. You can order it because it’s something adventurous but don’t expect much. I can’t say anything just yet. I have to visit again before I make more recommendations. In the meantime, I will tell you that they’re expensive and they close after lunch and open again for dinner. Cheers!