Pipino Vegetarian Food by Pino

August 29, 2015
Being raised in the Metro, finding good nom spots for clean food was simply not easy. I reckon "clean food" wasn't even a concept yet when I was growing up! Although it was only some years ago when people here started waking and catching up with health, I'm extremely pleased with how much Manila has progressed in paying more attention to our nutritional needs -- and continues to! And, more importantly, how more and more Filipinos are beginning to make the connection between excellent nutrition, a sustainable environment and a thriving economy. 

Pipino Vegetarian Food by Pino (or simply, Pipino) is a 5-year-old vegan/vegetarian restaurant at #39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village in Quezon City. It is one good example of a place that knows how to serve customers with real and genuine food! I'm sure us, Metropolitans, know that Up North is where the modern food mine is, and this particular spot, I believe, is one of QC's finest gems. And it's not only because it's a herbivore-friendly place!

…Okay, so maybe it is mainly because it's a veggie resto that creates my bias but to be honest, what I look for in a restaurant more than the food itself is experience. It wasn't difficult to impress me when I went to Pipino for the first time as I was instantly amazed by its beautiful rustic interior; all wood and brick walls decorated with hanging plant baskets and several framed art installations. As I sat down and appreciated the space, I was reminded that this was exactly the kind of design that I want my future home to look and feel like -- light, cozy, relaxed and energizing. I immediately knew that it wasn't going to be the only time I'd be sitting down and eating here.

My first visit was quickly followed by three more in a single week. (Is that crazy?) One of the first items that I got to try are these hot and savory Veggie Triangles. They're made with carrots, chickpeas and mushrooms, baked in pockets and served with a delicious chili-curry sauce as a starter! What I like about Pipino's service is not only do the staff know what's in their food, they're also very warm and open to talk about it! I'm aware of how inquisitive I get when I get to know a restaurant so I thought it was only kind of them to answer all my questions sufficiently, especially on the first day.

Other starter options on the menu include chips like Taro and Kale, Veggie Pizza (yes), Spring Roll Trio, Cauliflower Fritters and Mushroom Salpicao. These and all the other items that they serve are freshly made and only with simple and straightforward ingredients. How great is that!

When it comes to mains, Pipino offers four distinctive kinds: fresh salads, pastas, vegan Filipino and burgers. The latter two do not tickle my taste buds as much as the first two do so for my next trip, I went for a plate of their Puttanesca (buckwheat spaghetti, tomatoes, olives, capers) and a large serving of Quinoa Salad with Berries. Can you imagine what joy I felt when these fresh and colorful goodness arrived on my table? I'm actually getting hungry now as I write this! And I think I have just realized that my new goal in life is to try every single one of their salads and pasta.

While they only have three other salads on the menu (Wicked Walnut, Pili Ranch and Oriental Crunch), the pasta options are bigger and they sound just about as lovely as Truffle Mac & Cheeze, Vegan Lasagna, Cold Soba and other toothsome things. If you're not into these as much as I am, there's still a list of "veganized" versions of traditional Filipino dishes that you can choose from such as Portobello Inasal, Pineapple Fried Rice & Embotido, Pancit Canton and Pinakbet Risotto. And for burger lovers out there which, I think, are many, they have plant-based alternatives to the standard beef patty like Black Bean, Garbanzo and Portobello! I'm not sure how much curiosity this is all raising but if you get to try any one of these, please tell me what you think and maybe I'll give it a go myself!

Now what would a restaurant be if it didn't serve sweet treats, right? From ice cream to cakes to cookies to muffins, Pipino has it all! And the good news is, everything is free from dairy, eggs and refined sugars! If there was something I never thought I liked before I met Pipino, it would definitely be muffins. You may find that strange but it's just that I always preferred cold and creamy sweets over anything to cap off a meal! Their Blueberry Muffin made me rethink my limited dessert preference, and I bet one would never believe that something as moist and heavenly could actually be junk-free! Their Choco-Banana Muffin is another that I couldn't help myself from demolishing. All in all, I think I had about ten muffins on my last visit alone! I don't know if I should be embarrassed by that -- I mean, "make moments count; not calories," right? Hope that's a bit that everyone will learn to instill in themselves as more honest restaurants like Pipino Vegetarian Food sprout up all over the Philippines!

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