Michelin-starred chefs would agree that the measure of a great chef is how delectable he can prepare vegetables. It takes mastery to create bold flavors from plants. So thankfully, these days, many of the metro’s best chefs and restaurants do cater to the non-meat eaters among us. Here’s our list of favorite comfort food stops in Makati and Bonifacio Global City that serve great tasting dishes that happen to be plant-based or meat-free.
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Jupiter Place, 136 Jupiter Street, Makati City, (02) 8553-3688
The Buddhist heritage makes it easy to order vegetarian in most Chinese restaurants, but IMC Kavino brings it to a new level by recreating iconic Chinese favorites using fresh vegetables and tofu. The menu is a fusion of Imperial, Szechuan, Taiwanese, and even Singaporean cuisine done right, which is not always the case for many Asian restaurants.
Branches in 5th Avenue BGC, The Podium, Molito Alabang, Instagram @souvbycyma
Chef Robby Goco’s raises the bar yet again for authentic Mediterranean, this time with his modern Greek restaurant, Souv. Using only the freshest farm-to-table ingredients, Souv makes it a treat to eat your veggies South Beach-style. I feel that this restaurant has the best Hummus in the metro (for a vegan option, substitute the pita bread with vegetable crudité). The Red Bell Pepper Rice is as irresistible as it is diet-friendly, with the vegetables adding fiber to the white rice, making it more of a resistant starch. For lunch, I always get the Roasted Pumpkin Bowl with a side salad—which is such a good value for the price—and is a complete nutrient-dense meal by itself. When I want to be extra, I add the Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa Tomato Sauce which always hits the spot without the guilt.
Branches in 5th Avenue BGC and Shangri-La Plaza, Instagram @greenpasturesph
What makes a great salad is color, texture, and an explosion of flavor notes. The salad bar at this farm-to-table concept (also created by Chef Robby Goco) has the most extensive options, from organic greens, fermented vegetables, and meat-free proteins, to roasted root crops topped with freshly made dressings. The Beyond Burger is a must for anyone who doesn’t want to miss out on the flavor of beef, but without any actual meat. The latest addition, Pan con Tomate, is the ultimate light pulutan that you can pair with a glass of organic wine or an alcohol-free kombucha cocktail (which I prefer).
111 Paseo de Roxas corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Instagram @antipodean_mnl
This Balinese-inspired café is a millennial mecca where you can order Avocado Toast, the best Soy Matcha, and dairy-free and egg-free Chocolate Cake. Antipodean reminds me of a bohemian chic experience in Ubud, Bali with its all-day brunch menu, green juices, and even Indonesian platters. Oh, and it serves really good coffee, too.
Bolanos Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Instagram @mantrabistroph
When you say vegetarian, you automatically think Indian. This cuisine can be the richest, most healing cuisine in the world, except when you scrimp on the spices, herbs, and cooking time. If you do, then the dish just becomes a bowl of oily curry grub. Mantra is my go-to Indian restaurant, not only because it is authentic, but also because it does Indian food in a much simpler and lighter way, and most importantly, the kitchen don’t overcook the vegetables.
G/F Greenbelt 2, Makati City, Instagram @sugirestaurant
Japanese food is a safe choice when you want to be mindful of what you are going to eat. Sugi has a surprisingly conscious selection of vegetable-rich dishes that burst with so much umami you’ll forget you skipped on the meat. True to the macrobiotic (Japanese nutrition science) principle of eating whole, I like to start with Miso Soup (theirs is not so salty) and the iodine-rich Kaiso Salad (seaweed salad), then treat myself to one protein-rich soy dish, either the Tofu Steak (hold off on any ground pork) or Agedashi Tofu. When I feel like I deserve it, I may even order the Yasai Tempura, but I’ll likely choose the Shiitake Teppanyaki which is lighter. I also am a fan of the Cha Soba which I like to order hot. Natto or fermented soybeans are considered a superfood in Japan, along with pickled cucumber and ginger which are the best for gut health, so I always order some on the side or as an appetizer.
Milkyway Building, 900 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City, Instagram @azuthai
I studied Thai cooking in Chiang Mai which is why I only really eat it in two Thai restaurants here, both of which are in Makati, and one of them is Azuthai. Here you can order the Vegetarian Curry and Vegetable Pad Thai, and even request for the Tom Yum with mushrooms instead of fish or prawns (except maybe the broth which is usually pre-made). A treat after a meal is the Thai Halo-Halo made with coconut milk, which to me is even better than the dairy counterpart.
108 Benavidez Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Instagram @lagrimanila
South America is probably the last place to be a vegetarian, but if you think about it, South Americans are also big on plant-based ingredients: beans, rice, wheat, tomatoes, and of course, guacamole. Lagrima gives you freedom with what you want to put in your tostados and burritos. We recommend you swap beef with mushrooms, and of course, double order on the guac on your next visit.
Antipodean Café, IMC Kavino, Mantra, and Sugi photos by Chris Clemente
The author is a lifestyle nutritionist accredited in Plantbased Macrobiotics and Raw Culinary Nutrition. Follow her on Instagram @weizelgulfan