I’m introducing a new segment. Every Friday, I’ll introduce top lists of vegan finds called #FridayFunList.
This week, I’ll start with the vegan dishes I’ve found and enjoyed at non-vegan establishments during my trip to the Philippines last May. The list is not based on any ranking.
MAX’S RESTAURANT, GREENBELT MALL 5, MAKATI CITY
Max’s Restaurant is a big food chain in the Philippines serving Filipino Cuisine. When I went back in May, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it has incorporated vegetarian options as well, namely the Fried Tofu with Water Spinach (Kang-kong). The dish was delicious with rice.
CRYSTAL JADE LA MIAN XIAO LONG BAO, GREENHILLS SHOPPING CENTER
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao is a 3-star Michelin ranked Chinese restaurant with a location in Greenhills Manila. I ordered the Tofu and Eggplant in Clay Pot and the dish did not disappoint! I’ve been in many (and I mean MANY) of Chinese restaurants because they usually have vegan options but Crystal Jade is by far the best one I’ve tried. Do yourself a favor and visit this restaurant when you’re shopping at Greenhills Shopping Center.
I have to point out though that Crystal Jade is a little expensive even after the dollar-to-peso conversion. The dishes are about $10-12 per dish (veg options are the less expensive ones). Considering how much restaurant food costs back here in the SF Bay Area for such an average quality, Crystal Jade‘s prices are still not that bad for their excellent food.
CYMA GREEK TAVERNA, EASTWOOD MALL
You could always find something vegan and vegetarian at Greek and Mediterranean restaurants so thank god Eastwood Mall in Quezon City has a Greek restaurant.
Cyma Greek Taverna offers an array of veg options from its appetizers to salads to pastas. Just tell them to hold the cheese to make it vegan.
It was Chris’ family in the Philippines who brought us here, coincidentally they are mostly vegetarians!
XIN WANG HONG KONG CAFE, MALL OF ASIA
For a Hong Kong restaurant, unfortunately Xin Wang Cafe doesn’t offer many vegan options. BUT I felt special that the cook customized something for me. I ordered fried tofu off the menu and the cook put more effort to the dish by adding vegetable ingredients and sauce which elevated the flavors and presentation. Bravo!
CRESCENT MOON CAFE, ANTIPOLO CITY
Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve eaten tons of the sweet rice dessert called Suman but nothing prepared me to be blown away by Crescent Moon Cafe‘s version.
Crescent Moon Cafe is a low key cafe with beautiful nature scenery and studio pottery. The cafe was closed that day but the manager still accommodated us by serving light refreshments, Suman and Barako coffee. The Suman was served with a slice of sweet yellow mango on the side. The rice was heavenly warm, chewy, and sweet. The Barako coffee with hints of dark chocolate complemented the Suman well.
STREETS OF THE PHILIPPINES
If you find yourself roaming, enjoying the urban landscape of the Philippines, chances are you’ll stumble upon Filipino street food. Aside from Banana-que, Camote-que, Mango on a stick, Sago, etc., roasted nuts and beans also pass as vegan Filipino street food. So fret not when you find yourself hungry in the Philippines and there’s no vegan restaurant in sight, just snack on some crunchy pop beans and peanuts along your trip.
SEVS CAFE, LEGASPI TOWERS, MANILA
Located at the basement of the Legaspi Condominium Towers, Sev’s Cafe not only offers food and drinks but also arts and music to its tenants and patrons. The cafe puts together indie movie screenings, acoustic concerts, and other performances. The menu is not extensive but I was able to order a traditional vegan curry called Luto sa Gata which means “Cooked in Coconut Curry”. Jackfruit or Taro Leaves are usually the main ingredient. I had the Jackfruit version. I believe the wife of the owner is an environmentalist so I felt reassured that my dish was really vegan and animal product-free.
SENTRO RESTAURANT, GREENBELT, AYALA CENTER
It wasn’t my choice to go to Sentro Restaurant but my sister insisted and eventually convinced me. Good thing the restaurant offers one vegan dish called “Tofu Sisig”. I enjoyed it with a side of rice and a Sago drink (which had free refills). The Sisig was a little bland but I sprinkled soy sauce and squeezed some kalamansi citrus (pictured above) to add flavor.
SALCEDO SATURDAY MARKET, SALCEDO VILLAGE MAKATI CITY
OMG. Did I just spot an all vegan bakery booth in a Farmers Market in the Philippines? YES I DID. Too bad I forgot the name of the exact booth! Aarrgghhh! But I asked the vendor and she said that they’re there every Saturday so feel free to visit them and say hi and buy their delicious vegan cookies! Which by the way are all natural with no preservatives, nuts, or processed ingredients. I was so happy that day.
The Salcedo farmers market was well organized and guarded with tons of artisanal products and services. My friend told me she once had vegan ice cream there, but when I went I didn’t find one. Maybe the vendor ran out? Oh well, more reason to come back.
NEW BOMBAY, GLORIETTA FOOD COURT, MAKATI CITY
Indian restaurants are also sprouting in the Philippines and most of them have veg options. I was lucky to spot New Bombay along a slew of meat-based food booths at the Glorietta mall. I had a vegetable curry with rice.
Unlike most vegan and veg-friendly spots in the Philippines, New Bombay is one of the few that are inexpensive. I’m not sure about its other restaurant locations but the New Bombay food court has combo meals that fit to anyone’s budget.
There you go. How about you? What are your top vegan recommendations at non-vegan establishments?