Latest Stories

Not just plain veggie tables


WATERMELON Steak. Photo by Tatin Yang

I tried going vegetarian once, “try” being the operative word. It was a failure because my dining menu was limited to potatos (baked or fried), lumps of tofu, and tasteless salads. It didn’t help that my dad would bring home juicy slabs of meat every weekend. I didn’t even last a month.

Nowadays, it’s easier to become vegetarian and stick to your leafy guns, thanks to restaurants like Pipino.

Pipino is the brainchild of the restaurateurs behind Pino Resto Bar and BRGR: The Burger Project. One of the partners, graphic designer Alessandra Lanot, has been a vegetarian for 12 years now and she recounts how hard it is to eat meat-free dishes in Manila.

After a constant struggle finding good veggie eats, Alessandra turned to Pino’s Chef Ed Bugia for help. “It started with my birthday. I wanted a five-course, sit-down vegan meal. I wrote down the stuff I liked, then I asked Chef Ed to execute it,” she recalls.

This inspired Pino Resto Bar to incorporate six vegetarian dishes in its menu. Eventually diners started coming for the restaurant’s green menu, so the team thought it would be a good idea to open Pipino.

“We chose the name ‘Pipino’ because she’s Pino’s green sister,” explains Chef Ed with a laugh.

“Pipino wants to make it known that there is more to being a vegetarian than eating different kinds of salads. We try to come up with creative dishes, to make vegetables more exciting, especially for meat-eaters,” says Lanot. “When we first wrote our mission for Pipino, we wanted to go beyond the salads and change that popular notion na puro dahon—vegetarians don’t just eat salads,” she adds.

“It’s one thing to provide good vegan food for the under-served vegetarian market; it’s another to make it as appealing to meat-eaters to make them not feel like they’re missing out when they eat vegetarian,” says Chef Ed.

If you’re a reluctant vegetable-eater, Chef Ed recommends starting with Mushroom Salpicao, one of Pipino’s best-selling dishes. “Mushrooms have the closest texture to meat,” he explains.

THERE’S more to vegetarian food than salads. Photo by Tatin Yang

Another curious dish is Pipino’s Watermelon Steak, a slab of juicy watermelon grilled to resemble a hunk of beef. Eating it is an illusory experience—your eyes think you’re about to eat a chunk of rare steak, your nose can smell an almost meaty aroma emanating from the grilled watermelon, while the savory, smoky flavor of meat mingles with the juicy sweetness of the fruit as it explodes in your tastebuds.

Though traditional meat dishes are served sans animal flesh at Pipino, vegetables really take center stage at the restaurant since it doesn’t serve mock meat or meat substitutes. Some of these dishes include Vegetable Kare-Kare (served with Vegan Bagoong Brown Rice) and Low-Fat & Cheese-less Vegan Lasagna with eggplant, zucchini and silken tofu ricotta.

Pipino also makes sure that the sweet endings to every vegetarian meal are also vegan. “We use a lot of unrefined ingredients in our pastries, like whole-wheat flour, coco sugar and raw muscovado,” says Chef Ed. The restaurant also offers dairy-free ice cream which uses coconut, almond or cashew milk instead.

Pino Resto Bar/Pipino Vegetarian are at 39 Malingap St., Teachers Village, QC (tel. 4411773); and 38 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Makati (0922-8654925). Reservations are advisable since the restaurant fills up quickly.

Carnivores welcome

If you’re not ready to have an all-out vegetable feast, worry not because Pipino is located inside Pino Resto Bar.

Pino serves conceptual Pinoy fare, like its best-selling Kare-Kareng Bagnet, a deconstructed version of the popular ox-tail peanut stew.

Also a must-try is the Coffee Crusted Beef Belly; the juicy, melt-in-your-mouth beef alone is worth the trip.

My personal favorite, though, is the (also meatless) Nori Cheese Sticks—buttermilk cheese wrapped in nori and wanton wrapper, deep-fried and served with pesto and raspberry sauce. You can make a meal out of this alone.

The Mini Sisig Tacos go well with the restaurant’s signature cocktails or a cold bottle of beer.

Try visiting the restaurant’s Makati branch. The corner spot along Jupiter Street houses Pino Resto Bar, Pipino, and BRGR: The Burger Project, making it an ideal hangout place with friends or family.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Food , Pipino , Pipino restaurant , vegetarian

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions