Until recently, my vegetarian restaurant of choice was Corner Tree Cafe along Jupiter Street in Makati. I heard about Pipino Vegetarian Food from a teacher in the yoga studio I go to, though, and was determined to give it a try. Given the amount of meat we post on this blog, it might come as a surprise that I’m extremely fond of vegetarian and vegan food, especially now that such restaurants are serving much more than salads.
So a couple of weeks ago, I took my mother to Pipino for dinner. The restaurant is located on the second floor, in the same building as Pino Resto Bar in Teachers Village; you have to enter the gate on the side of the building and head to the back, where you climb the stairs to Pipino on the second floor. The inside of Pipino is extremely light, welcoming, and pleasant. On one wall, you see flyers for cooking events as well as pictures of satisfied diners; presently, Pipino is also showcasing the works of Mio, a young boy fighting cancer. Some items on Pipino’s menu are chalked on the other side of the restaurant.
Of course, Pipino’s offerings are much more extensive than what is displayed on the chalkboards. My mother ordered the Fried Eggplant, Adobong Kangkong and Brown Rice served with Nilasing na Mangga by Pipino (P155), which she loved for the subtle mix of flavors. The mango was particularly tasty, she said, and perked up the mildness of the eggplant.
I ordered a bowl of potato soup (P40) to kick off my meal. For my main course, I had the Stuffed Demi-Dried Tomatoes with Brown Rice, Mushroom Salpicao, and Orange Leek Salad (P225). I have no idea how the brown rice was prepared, but I was crazy about how it tasted. The mushrooms were nicely cooked and the oranges added some sweetness. It was extremely filling; I couldn’t even manage to scarf down the tomatoes anymore.
Naturally, I thought I absolutely had to go back, so last Friday, Tj and I stopped at Pipino for dinner; I’m really glad he gave in, since I was pestering him about going there for quite a while. He ordered the Vegetable Kare-Kare with Vegan Bagoong Brown Rice (P165). After his first bite, he looked up at me and said, “This is really good!” and spent the rest of the meal chewing in silence, scooping up the remaining sauce when the entire plate was wiped out. He commented that the kare-kare reminded him of the one his mother cooks, and that the vegetables were properly cooked and not soggy at all.
I didn’t feel like having a huge meal that night, so I just had their Mac n’ Cheeze (P165). I’m not sure what cheese substitute they used, but hey, it was good enough to make me happy even if I knew I wasn’t eating real cheese.
We also planned to try out their ice cream, which is “made with cashew milk and sweetened with maple syrup”, as indicated on their chalkboard. We had the Fresh Lemon Ice Cream (P40) which included a honey-free graham cracker in the shape of a heart. The lemon flavor is pretty sharp and tangy, so make sure to only take small bites while eating or spoon it on a piece of graham cracker. The texture was also quite gritty, but we liked it nonetheless. I’m looking forward to trying the dark chocolate ice cream next time.
So has Pipino taken over Corner Tree Cafe’s space in my heart? I’d say they’re on a pretty even footing. They both have great takes on vegan and vegetarian dishes; Pipino just has an advantage since it’s a lot closer to where I live. I’m also amazed by the prices. The most expensive item on the menu costs P260, and their iced tea costs P35–not really the kind of prices people generally associate with organic or vegan food items, so that will come as a nice surprise to those who will eat here for the first time. I’m really looking forward to going back to Pipino. Now my only problem is deciding which dish I’ll order next, the vegetable lumpia or the banana polenta?
Pipino Vegetarian Food
Address: 39 Malingap Street Teachers Village, Quezon City