Corner Tree Café
It was one of the pioneers in this segment of the food market. There were others before it set up shop in Makati, but Corner Tree Café has brought vegetarian food into the mainstream. The cozy interiors and innovative menu are enough to draw even the staunchest of meat-lovers into its doors. Chiqui Mabanta’s concept was one of the first to offer meatless dishes that stray far from the usual bowl of greens mixed with dressing, as the restaurant serves cuisine from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas that please the eye and palate.
Chiqui asserts that one does not have to be a vegetarian, vegan or on a gluten-free diet to enjoy what the restaurant offers. “In fact, our customers are people who simply like good food, and many are actually carnivores!” Aside from dishes that include a lovely Dukka and Hummus starter plate and their popular spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, Corner Tree also offers great desserts (try their refreshing fresh fruit and poppy seed yoghurt). These can be enjoyed with coffee, tea, and smoothies, along with wine, beer and selected cocktail drinks.
Corner Tree Café is located at 150 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati. Call 897-0295, visit www.cornertreecafe.com
This is not strictly a vegetarian place. In fact, Chef Robby Goco’s successful take on local and organic food includes carnivore-friendly culinary treats as Steak Caprese and Chicken-Fried Bacon. His advocacy is more geared towards farm-to-fork eating, which means that he has personally sourced his ingredients from small farmers even way out in remote provinces. That said, since the Philippines is rich in fresh produce, he creates his exceptional salads—the likes of which have helped propel his Cyma to be a very popular dining destination.
Green Pastures offers a beautiful salad bar, well-stocked with glistening greens and other local veggies, where one can choose what to put in a hefty bowl. He also offers his salad specials, which changes with whatever is in season. For those who are still taking their baby steps into a vegetarian lifestyle, the innovative chef offers guiltless dishes, like his popular KFC or Korean Fried Cauliflower. He reveals that this dish was borne from requests of his guests who miss crunching into something.
Green Pastures branches are located at the East Wing of EDSA Shangri-la Mall and Eastwood Mall. For the Shangri-la branch, call 654-3219/0922-6334687
It all started out with ECHOstore, sociopreneur Chit Juan’s exposition of local and organic products that she has encountered while going out to the countryside. As the store started selling proudly Philippine-made items such as sundried tomatoes from Nueva Ecija, guava jelly from Negros Occidental, malunggay, arugula and romaine from ECHOfarms and the purest crab paste from Camarines Sur, customers started asking how they can use these in their cooking. This was when foodie and co-founder Reena Francisco integrated the products into a short menu with pastas and sandwiches that go well with their fresh-ground organic coffees. Their menu is constantly evolving, as Chit says they are discovering a lot more fascinating artisanal products all over the country.
ECHOcafe serves many vegetarian choices as it also sells organic vegetables for salads, soup and side dishes as well as sandwiches made with its homemade mushroom burger, tofu chorizo and banana heart burger patty recipes. These patties can also be enjoyed at home as they are also available frozen and ready for pan-heating.
ECHOcafe branches are located at Serendra Bonifacio Global City; Salcedo Village, Makati; Centris Quezon City; Davao City; Cebu City; and soon at Terminal 2 NAIA. Visit the ECHOstore website at www.echostore.ph
While it is oft-mistaken for a purely vegetarian place, Erwan Heussaff’s latest farm-to-fork project is a cool convenience-store type enterprise that emphasizes more on the freshness of food offerings. Here, one can find wrapped pulled pork sandwiches alongside packed salads, all properly marked with what goodness is held inside. Erwan himself assures that their products are made fresh every day, and that they have two nutritionist-dietitians on board to look into the calorie and macronutrient content of their items. “We just want to dispel the image that healthy needs to be bland,” he explains.
He says about 30% of their items with really hip names are currently vegetarian-friendly. Among the offerings that vegetarians-on-the go can enjoy to fuel their days at the office are guilt-free “pods”, such as the Let’s Chia Chia (water, coconut milk, chia seeds, honey, salt, raisins, cinnamon, and cardamom), pick-up bowls of Kale and Roasted Vegetables, along with energy bars and juices.
Sprout is located at Ground Floor Signa Designer Residences, Valero corner Rufino St., Makati. Call/SMS 0917-5586593
Agico Vegetarian Café
Vegetarian food takes an Asian turn at Agico Vegetarian Café, which serves Japanese-inspired healthy and guilt-free comfort food. Their menu is made of homegrown veggie recipes that are 100% meat-free, using only natural and premium ingredients. Since Fiipinos are no strangers to Japanese cuisine, it is easy even for meat-eaters to enjoy offerings such as their Crunchy Mushroom Salad, Crunchy Enoki Tempura, and vegetarian Okonomiyaki. They also have a soup-craving solution via a satisfying veggie Wonton Ramen, and offer sweet-tooth satisfaction via benefit-packed pastries like their Apple Walnut and Goji Berry Cupcakes.
Agico Vegetarian Café is located at #83 Araullo Street, San Juan. Call 705-1997.
The Vegetarian Kitchen
It started out as a small neighborhood restaurant in 1990 and has since moved to the busier Mother Ignacia street in Quezon City. Founder and head kusinera Tita M. Soliongco, a practicing vegetarian since the 1980s has incorporated her family recipes among its offerings of local favorites and international fusion dishes such as Spinach and Cream Cheese Dumplings, Korean Bibimbap, and Rich Tomato and Malunggay Lasagna.
In March, Tita and her children Christian and Camille came up with an Indian-themed menu, with Savory Vegetable Kofta in Tomato Sauce, Chicken and Vegetable Tandoori with Bitter Melon Chips (Karela), and Tamarind chutney. Since going meatless doesn’t mean giving up on indulgence, the restaurant also offers eggless desserts such as Apple Pie Cheesecake and its best-selling Orange Cheesecake.
The Vegetarian Kitchen is located at 62B Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City. Call 355-5622, 0915-8300511.
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