If there's one thing that I missed during my US trip, it would be the healthy selections of food we tried before I left Manila. Few weeks back before my departure, I've got to try Sugarleaf, Quantum Cafe and lastly Pipino Vegetarian Food by Pino that offers a variety of hearty and delicious food choices. But, there's something in Pipino that differentiates itself from the other two restaurants.
Pipino is a place not only for vegetarians but also for vegans as well. Meaning, all of Pipino's dishes are plant-based and do not contain any animals or animal by-products.
Located at the second floor of Pino Resto Bar in Malingap St. Teachers Village, this vegan place is a frequent hangout of vegan students and residents near the area.
I felt excited the moment I realized that we were eating purely vegan food but at the same time worried that I may not like the taste of vegan meals.
We started with some refreshments of Pipino Shake (P80), Lemongrass Ginger Cucumber Cooler(P80) and Pino Iced Tea (P35)
The worried feeling completely banished the moment first course was served to us.
Wicked Walnut Salad (P165)- Mixed organic greens with dalandan balsamic, candied walnuts, cherry tomatoes and walnut parmesan cheese.
My next visit to Pipino will definitely include another order of this vegan salad. I love the play of citrus flavors from the balsamic vinaigrette and the sweet and nutty taste from the candied walnuts and parmesan cheese. Take note, their parmesan cheese is made out of walnut since they are not allowed to put animal by-product to their dishes. Interesting right?
Veggie Tempura (P80)
An assortment of carrots, eggplant and sweet potatoes deep fried in tempura batter served with soy mirin. Pipino's version of Veggie tempura is somewhat similar to my favorite Kakiage tempura I'd usually order in Japanese restaurants.
Tofu Lemongrass Skewers (P145)
Another favorite of mine is Pipino's Tofu Lemongrass Skewers which is a best-seller from their starter menu. Served with sweet chili garlic sauce and alfafa sprouts, the lemongrass sticks gave a nice hint of citrus and sweet lemon aroma to the tofu dish.
Portobello Inasal (P260)
The Portobello Inasal is a 3-piece portobello mushroom stacked on top of brown rice served with red beet puree and eggplant ensalada. The mushroom alone was a bit salty for my taste preference but eating it with a spoonful of brown rice coupled with some beet sauce gave this dish a more balanced flavors.
Watermelon Steak (P220)
One of the most sought after and intriguing dish of Pipino is their Watermelon Steak. At first, I was expecting a vegan steak maybe marinated in watermelon juice but turned out, it was a fresh slice of grilled watermelon. Served with asparagus, taro miso mash, string beans and pickled mushrooms, it was truly unique and innovative for Pipino to come up with this interesting dish. A must-try dish!
Low-Fat & Cheese-Less Vegan Lasagna (P120)
For me, lots of cream and cheese is what makes a lasagna really good. And this one did not disappoint even though the cheese used was made out of silken tofu ricotta. You wouldn't even thought that it was tofu at all!
Stuffed Portobello Cheeseburger (P275)
Vegan Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (P40)
For dessert, we were served with Pipino's homemade vegan ice cream made with cashew milk and sweetened with maple syrup. Texture was familiar as it was somewhat the same with Jello's Coco-Kefir Ice Cream from Sugarleaf. Only this has a grainier and coarser texture as compared to the latter.
Oatmeal Choco Cookie (P30), Choco-Banana Muffin (P20), Banana Choco-Peanut Cupcake (P50)
Another line of desserts from Pipino are their cookies, cupcakes and muffins that are made with whole wheat flour and coco sugar. I could hardly tell that these were vegan desserts as they were all sweet, delicious and yummy just like regular cookies and cupcakes.
Our trip to Pipino was definitely one of a kind and something that I would look forward to trying again next time. Every dish was creatively thought of and each has its own unique twist to a classic recipe. If I'd turn into vegan someday, Pipino will be the first to top my list of go-to places. Truly a place of healthy AND delicious meals.
Pipino Vegetarian Food by Pino
39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village
Tel Num: 441-1773
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pipinoveg