Words by Howi Bakunawa
Photos by Gwen Sy
After the first few shaky years of its commercial inception here in the Philippines, it looks like vegan establishments are here to stay. It’s surpassed the label of being “just a trend” with vegan restos continuing to sprout all over the Metro. Though as it usually is with anything that’s still relatively new and unfamiliar, despite their newfound success, vegan restaurants are still haunted by their old stereotypes — namely that vegan food is bland, flavorless and just plain boring. For those of us who think that way, allow me to to invite you to experience the delectable culinary adventure that is PIPINO.
Nestled along Malingap St. just a block away from Maginhawa, Pipino carries all the hallmarks you’d expect from the other restaurants in its area. Its food is affordable for the student-crowd, its interior is bright and cozy for families, and more than anything: the food is delicious, meant for everybody and not just those on a plant-based diet.
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
Their Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are a mouthwateringly-good way to start. Made of breaded cauliflower coated in a special sauce, it is sweet and savory with a light vinegary sort of spiciness all comes together when you take that first, much-awaited bite from these satisfyingly-crunchy nuggets.
Another delicious appetizer that Pipino has on their menu is their signature Potato Chilaquiles. It’s a perfect dish for sharing: loaded with all the flavors chili con lentils. salsa, jalapenos and vegan mayo capers deliciously delivered to your tastebuds with the deep and rewarding crunch of their home-style potato chips.
Moving on to their entrees. we have Pipino’s take on the classic Tofu Sisig. If ever there was a dish that could act as a bridge between meat-lovers and vegans alike, it would have to be tofu sisig. Pipino serves their sisig with plenty of peppers and onions for that added bit of spicy sweetness. They also top it with seaweed chicharon (which we couldn’t resist and ate most of before we took this photo!).
Broccoli & Bokchoy Stir-Fry
It would be impossible to talk about vegan food without the humble yet infinitely-versatile stir-fry. Pipino’s Broccoli & Bokchoy Stir-Fry keeps true to this with their fresh veggies complimented by a subtle soy glaze and topped with the intense flavors of toasted garlic and mushrooms.
Tortang Talong With Cauli Rice
Pipino’s neat rendition of the Filipino classic Tortang Talong uses chickpea flour-based batter instead of eggs. It gives the dish both a fluffy yet firm texture and a delicate flavor that pairs exceedingly well with their generous portions of cauliflower rice and soy-garlic sauce. Definitely a must-try!
Pineapple Fried Rice & Embotido
This embotido part of Pipino’s Pineapple Fried Rice & Embotido is made with vegetable protein, carrots, garlic and onion and has a sweetness that balances the tartness of the pineapple. The rice itself is loaded with all kinds of deliciously wholesome veggies like broccoli and carrots. With a bit of everything going on, it’s a dish that definitely stands out.
Choco Banana Peanut Cupcake
For dessert, you have to try Pipino’s Choco Banana Peanut Cupcake. That’s already 4 things all in one! It’s topped with the gooey, decadent goodness of chocolate and a peanut-butter frosting all on a sweet, heartwarming banana cupcake.
Lemon Drizzle Slice
If you’re looking for something a little less decadent but just as equally delectable, look no further than Pipino’s Lemon Drizzle Slice. It has the sweet tartness of a soaked lemon poundcake classically served a la mode but with a plant-based twist: their ice cream is made with cashews (gasp!). It just goes to show that our favorite foods don’t necessarily have to come from animals but can made made just as deliciously from plants instead.
If you’ve ever been either curious or somewhat hesitant to try out vegan food, then let me assure you that there’s a whole world of plant-based cuisine just waiting to be explored, whose distinct and appetizing flavors are just waiting to be experienced. The food in Pipino is a great and scrumptious way to start!