In this season of overindulging, Happy Garden is truly a joyful discovery.
It’s a place where food is delicious yet healthy, in a garden-like setting. Its owner, Annabelle Tanco, describes Happy Garden as an oasis of verdant green amid the gray of the business district.
The menu is a mix of Filipino and Asian-inspired cuisine that highlights the use of fresh, natural and, whenever available, organic, ingredients. These are carefully picked for their healing properties.
Also used is apple cider vinegar which is said to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol, fight diabetes and protect against cancer.
For the gluten-intolerant, there’s organic tamari soy sauce.
Likewise used as ingredient is house-fermented black garlic that doubles all the amino acids and antioxidant properties of garlic which helps lower blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease.
For food that needs to be sweetened, stevia or pure honey is used.
These little details make dining at Happy Garden a unique experience.
There’s nothing I’ve tried on the menu that wasn’t good. For a good month or so, we ate there almost every day.
My favorites are the Ox Tongue in Mushroom Sauce with fresh mushrooms, cream, celery, truffle sauce with black rice; Red Wine Oxtail Kare-kare with adlai; Free-range Chicken and Pork Adobo with Chicken Liver cooked in muscovado, apple cider and tamari soy sauce with cauliflower rice.
The ravioli and spring rolls are equally good.
Oh, there’s also a juice bar that serves fresh fruit juices and power smoothies.
Happy Garden Café: St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City, tel. 88236621; Sunshine Place Building, 56 Jupiter St. Bel-Air, Makati, tel. 88245440
Ariel Manuel’s food-to-go
Ariel Manuel, former chef at the defunct Lolo Dad’s restaurant and who now runs Bistro Manuel, has made his food available for you to savor at home.
A must-try is his Gambas—large, crunchy, sweet shrimps in olive oil and garlic, simple but not your typical gambas.
Try also the Sesame-crusted, 48-day-old Suckling Pig, served with hoisin sauce, leeks and flat bread.
Aside from tending to his 70-seat restaurant, Ariel has been busy with private dinners at Bistro Manuel where he creates one-of-a-kind menus for diners.
Have a deliciously healthy and happy Christmas!
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