Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Search for the best Vegetarian Restaurants (Manila)

For a starving writer, I barely starve, I also believe that the “Starving Writer Feeder’s” Club has something to do with it. I’m thankful for having a lot of friends who are very supportive of what I’m doing. I suppose it’s apt to say that I’m a struggling writer… I have my famished times too.
Recently I have been trying out Vegetarian Restaurants around manila. As a vegetarian, I find it a treat and a good way to expand my taste pallet. I cook for myself however, I would rather have someone cook for me and therefore a very good life partner would be a “cook”, otherwise I would have to spend time learning how to cook new dishes.

*Oh and I joined my other vegetarian friends who came from Olongapo to Vegetarian Resto Hop and for two days we ate at several restaurants in Manila, I didn't have to spend much. Thanks Carlo and Clarice and hope your Vegetarian Restaurant in Olongapo would soon be realized. Good Wishes!!

Here are the reviews of the Vegetarian Restaurants in Manila. I must warn you that my reviews are subjective but I’m sure you are smart enough to know that people have differing opinions about everything. (In descending order, that’s right from “Great to Not-So-Great”)

Scout Castor in Tomas Morato, the place can easily be mistaken for a house, because it once was (the toilet even has a shower).

The place upon entering is canopied by green plants and a few trees.  And warmth surrounds the atmosphere of the interiors of the restaurant. A must try would be their Barbecue, coming in only at P75 a meal and the option of having red rice or java rice is available, so as not to make your barbecues lonely, includes a serving of their atsara.
I tried their Sisig, it wasn’t bad. The serving was good enough for two people and it costs P120 without rice. Their grilled vegetable wrap was good. I can’t wait to taste the rest in their menu. For desserts, they have vegan chocolate cake and other tasty treats, although some of them aren’t always available. Their Baklava is a nice match for tea.
They also have wifi, therefore it became my office for a couple of days and very nice toilet.

Malingap St. Teacher’s Village. (Maginhawa).

Tofu Balls by Pipino
Go with tofu balls for the appetizers, they’re wonderful and excellent for sharing. I tried their Vegetable curry with Couscous. It was good but it became too tiring for my taste buds half way. The presentation was good, rice in the middle of a large plate then splashed with the vegetable and curry sauce, topped with 3 thin slices of tofu. Some green sprout was holding the 3 slices of tofu in place.
They have interesting dishes such as the demi-dried stuffed tomatoes and the Portobello mushroom steak, which are quite good and worth a comeback.
Their vegan lasagna wasn’t exactly what I would have a taste for the second time, it was peculiarly sweet and tiring halfway.
The place is decent and clean, although the people dining there are quite loud, as though they want to force the other people to eavesdrop with their comatose inducing conversations. Familiar doodles were on the wall and paintings probably coming from my friend Zeus Bascon’s circle of artists.
Smoking area at the back, not that it’s something I should be happy for. Clean and decent toilet is a plus.
Price ranges with meals have a mean of P200, pretty pricey for a writer who has an average monthly salary. I’ve dined there last January three times, once in three consecutive weeks.

Eggplant and Tofu Miso

Vegetable Curry with Couscous
Camote Fries By Pipino

Portobello Steak
Demi-dried stuffed Tomatoes

Nom Nom Nom
Timog, Quezon City

A great place to dine in and hang-out with friends, I remember my painter friend Zeus Bascon saying he will be exhibiting his works there or simply displaying some of his works. I liked the color combination of the place and the feeling when you’re inside. Artworks and interesting trinkets from young artists hung on the wall. The nostalgic designs of the tables and chairs can truly take you to another dimension as though in a dream.
They have their slab pizzas and tofu meal creations, I didn’t like their stir-fry tofu but the others were great.
Price rates are a bit higher than Greens but they’re a bit reasonable, though the toilet… hmm I don’t really appreciate. I really wish they could make it a bit better since the prices of their meals aren’t exactly pocket-friendly.

Ha Yuan
Timog x Tomas Morato? (I forgot where it was but I’ve eaten there a couple of times already)

This is a Chinese restaurant that’s vegetarian friendly. They have vegetarian siopao which is my favorite and their Cold Taho is very popular.
My friend suggested trying out their Lumpiang Ubod and to my surprise it was really good. The dish is always served fresh and with bamboo shoots too. They have a wide selection of mushroom and tofu dishes, which are always worth a try. They have a good selection of vegetarian meals and if you’re on a date with a person who’s not exactly a vegetarian, then this is a good place to take him or her, at least there would be something for you and the other person from the menu.
The place wasn’t so bad, there were vintage Chinese paintings (Which can be knock-offs) and the sound of the traditional Chinese bamboo flute music always seem to welcome me when I go there. Meal prices aren’t that expensive although they can get expensive too.  The vegetable siopao costs P35, which is a rather small size but the Lumpia is about P80 (I think) for a serving.
Another Vegetarian friendly Chinese restaurant is Mr. Ube (Binondo and another place in QC), they have vegetarian meals but the selection isn’t that diverse. I think there’s only one vegetarian meal there…

Corner Tree Café
Jupiter St. Makati

Koftas in Tomato Sauce
Quiet place and unlike Pipino, people who dine here are afraid others might hear their conversations, so they lower their voice a notch down whispering or is it just me seeing other people’s mouth move without a sound coming out of it? Anyway, I like them, they don’t make a sound.

Trying to remember what I ate, I believe it was Koftas with Tomato Sauce or Vegetarian Indian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with rice. I love everything with tomatoes and tomato sauce in them so this one won me over effortlessly. I’m a sucker for tomatoes.
Their Chili Beans was definitely something I would come back for. I loved chili con carne when I was a meat eater and I’ve been craving for some in the past months and finally I found a vegetarian version.
Their vegetarian lasagna must have been the best veggie lasagna I’ve tasted so far, definitely worth a try.
The interior of the café was simpler and has a more classic touch and I really find it a quiet and peaceful place.
The meals were pricier than Pipino, not to mention they have an exclusive service charge when their toilet, though clean, pales in comparison to what Pipino has. This must have been the priciest vegetarian restaurant I’ve dined so far but their dishes are wonderful, still it does not justify the price.

Bowl of Chili (Chili Beans)
Teriyaki Asparagus with Shiitake Mushrooms
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Vegan Chocolate
Starter plate (Dukka and white beans Humus)

Green Halo
Cubao Expo

Tofu Sisig

For a restaurant who claims to serve organic food and items, they wrap their to-go dishes and meals in a Styrofoam. Anyway, they’re the only vegetarian restaurant in CubaoX, so I usually order there.
I tried their vegetarian Burger Steak, it was blah. Their sisig wasn’t exactly something I enjoyed eating although their Basil and Mushroom sandwich was great, I just wished they’d remove the crusts of the sandwich.
I haven’t tried their pastas, perhaps next time I would. Prices are almost the same as Greens but a bit pricier and less than appetizing. I suggest they lower their prices, I could easily remake their sisig in my sleep.
The place looked as though there was no lone concept when designing the interior, my friends liked the wall color though. Dolls and empty bottles of what-nots where on display and also some water color artwork that were for sale starting form P6,000. I would like to call their interior design concept as “Chaos” or “Chaotic”.
No toilet, either the pay-toilet outside or you sneak in Alan’s Grill for their toilet.

Best pick would be Greens. For several reasons such as having a solid wi-fi connection, which makes it perfect for those who work remotely or the place is a really good one to hang out with. It’s very homey and all your favorite cooking has their vegetarian counterparts. Clean and decent toilet with shower and you can buy your vegetarian supplies at the same place. Prices are very reasonable, though I still can’t eat there every day.
I didn’t rate their service, as in how the waiters and waitresses were since I noticed they diversify their treatment each time I visit. Sometimes they could just be stressed or thinking about something and aren’t aware they’re pulling a scowl, I forgive them as long as they don’t do something funny with the food I order.

Other Vegetarian friendly restaurants in Manila
I haven't tried the mushroom burger of HEAT since a friend of mine said that it's in Shangri-la Plaza, it was too late when I discovered it was in the hotel. They only have the Mushroom burger for vegetarians.

Mexicali (MOA)
Garden Burger and their Grilled Vegetable Taco are great - Always a reason to try again, other options are available.

Bodhi (Megamall, SM South)
A level below Greens, not so shabby, very good alternative.

Good Spirits (The Collective, Makati) 
They have the most amazing marble brownies.

Sophia's Mediterranean Cuisine (West Gate Alabang)
Reasonable, Good and filling. One of my favorites.

Pho Hoa (Alabang Town Center, Shangri-la Plaza)
Decent, not so bad.

I will expand the list next time, I'm always up for some new tastes.

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