I have an equal love for meat and vegetables, but my experiences with vegetable-meat products just gave me an impression that it’s nothing more than just being a desultory substitute of meat. Many attempts of tinkering with the meaty flavor may have been done but it does not really capture the meaty taste that a tissue and fat can provide. However, a touch of change happened very recently, there’s one vegetarian restaurant humbly situated at Jose Abad Santos st. Little Baguio San Juan, a part of Manila I rarely visit that changed my impression of the vegetarian food. So, I thought it’s worth the explore.
Here’s the verdict: The Highlights of VeggieZen
VeggieZen Fried Rice
The best tasting and the best looking fried rice my gustation sensory have ever perceived. The herbs just worked its magic to result such a joyful strong flavor without the unpleasant pungency that gets stuck in your tongue. I mean, it tastes mild as I chew it but as it passes down my throat, my brain recognizes right away the lovely aroma herbs blended perfectly with the rice.
Spicy Seafood Marinara? It looks like one and it tastes exactly like one, the only ingredient missing to complete its disguise are the prawn slices..This is a luscious and spicy pasta without giving you the scary calories. The chef did a great job on the organically homemade tomato sauce.
Winter Melon Soup
You could never underestimate the power of snow ear fungus aka. white fungus. It has that gentle, rubber-like texture (literally it crunches into pieces in the mouth) and that mood-changing flavor is just relaxing. This soup is certainly a comfort food.
No one left the plate empty after this dish was served Lol. Crispy coated mushroom sided with cane vinegar.Whoah! food love baby! This plate of crunchiness can indulge your cravings for finger-munch food — the guilt-free way 🙂 !
VeggieZen just nailed it! I wouldn’t think that satay sauce which is typically paired with grilled meats such as chicken or beef would taste so amazing with mushrooms! I absolutely love this lovely wrap of satay sauce and veggies!
Looking at the texture you would think its made of finely chopped pork lungs and heart, many vegetarian restaurants use veggie meat to replicate the real meat. But VeggieZen chose to be using non processed ingredients. Vegetable meat may tastes good for some but nothing beats plant-based cooking. The owner of the restaurant disclaims this is a bit salty but honestly it isn’t very salty at all.
I have tried skewers from vegetarian restaurants that are using veggie meat and I didn’t like it. But this grilled food definitely doesn’t taste meatless for a non-meat skewer, I love it!
Shiitake mushroom? Teriyaki? What? It tastes as great as it looks. It never tries to taste like real meat and it still taste like a shiitake mushroom with an extra ordinary meaty character!
Monkey Mushrooms Or Yamabushitake
Awesome flavor, appetizing sauce along with the green leafy vegetables and that natural oil embracing the chicken gizzard-like mushrooms. I know it seems weird, maybe it’s just my taste buds but I think its texture is like a tenderized chicken gizzard.
Unfortunately, I don’t master distinguishing many concoctions used for desserts except for dairy of course! I wasn’t able to ask the owner of the restaurant if they use agar agar which is a substitute of gelatin for vegetarians. It does taste more condensed for me so, it must be gelatin free. Nevertheless, this Panna cotta proves “simplicity at its best!” Simple but never boring! The shiny sweet beans on a vanilla cream feels like HEAVEN.
Tokwa With Okra
It smells great and it taste good, not exactly my favorite except that I truly love the herbs absorbed by the okra! This wobbly full-flavored tofu is well paired with rice :).
There are 5 more of their delicious vegetarian meals I tried that you might want to try as well :). And by the way, they have such pretty restaurant with warm and soothing color from their chairs to the dishwares. Also you would enjoy their tamarind juice!
Where to find them?
713 Jose Abad Santos St.
Little Baguio, San Juan, Metro Manila
Tel: (02) 531-3696
Mobile: (+63) 917-526-2000