Pretty standard vege canteen with a local feel
Posted on 08 / 19 / 2011
We endured close to an hour in a taxi through sometimes stagnant traffic to try this place... having tried most of the top reviewed spots we wanted to venture out into something different and figured a shop run by a naturopath would have a health focus, so picked this one.
We got there quite late, about 4.30pm so near their closing time. Their food is pre-made on the counter - a 'point to what you want' type affair. Most of the dishes were mock meat based, which we don't like, so we went for a bean and squash dish, a vegetable soup, another bean dish (which had mock meat in it but we had no other options so just ate around it) and a lumpia (local style garden roll). This was accompanied by some brown rice.
We were surprised to find that none of the food was heated up - it was served at room temperature. Guess that's better than zapping it of its energy with a microwave!??
The rice was a bit hard and crumbly, not terribly enjoyable really but sufficient - better than white rice anyday. The vege soup was great despite being cold; we wished they had more. The mock meat and bean dish was enjoyable even though we left all the mock meat. The beans and squash dish was soy sauce based and tasted Japanese - my husband felt right at home and seemed pleased with the unexpected dose of familiarity. The lumpia stole the show - the sauce was quite different to anything we've tasted before. It was a transparent jelly which was squeezed on as needed. We promptly ordered another one, as the overall meal was decidedly lacking on freshness and the contents of the lumpia appeared to be mostly raw veges.
The ambience of this store is of an everyday canteen. Certainly nothing special but clean and starkly comfortable. There were also a few health foods for sale there: dates, seaweed (Chinese in origin though), handmade soy sauce, etc. as well as some cabinets full of breads made with white flour and little else (zero nutritional value so we left them alone).
Whilst enjoyable, the meal somehow left us feeling tired afterwards.. perhaps it was the lack of freshness, or the skewed balance of ingredients (lots of beans, not so many veges). We felt a doctor could have done better in promoting healthy vegetarianism rather than resorting to the use of mock meats (the contents and nutritional value of which are questionable at best).
Still, good to see some vege options in this relatively remote location in Manila. And if the locals enjoy it then that can only be a good thing.
not too oily, condiments not overused, mostly local style dishes
mock meat, pre-made, not much to choose from