Vegetarian Food Find #2, #3 & #4: Pipino’s Watermelon Steak, Vegan Cheeseless Lasagna & Coconut Ice Cream
As declared in my Eating Plants post, I’m dedicating more of myself to the pursuit of tasty vegetarian / vegan fare, either through my own experiments or through fun vegetarian / vegan food finds. And while I previously featured Grill Queen’s tofu BBQ, this will be my first full-fledged vegetarian resto feature. :)
I first found out about Pipino maybe early last year when I first saw their menu options from PINO, the non-vegan resto bar on the ground floor, which Karlo’s friends and I frequent (I love their flavored beer, but more on that later). But I guess my previously non-vegetarian aspiring self didn’t bother to take too much interest in their fare, and instead, I stuck mostly to the dilis rice and other fun stuff from PINO.
However, with my increased interest for vegetarian fare and Punchdrunk Panda’s blogger hangout at Pipino last March, I felt inclined to sample more of their fare. So, last April 14, I headed back there with my Punchdrunk Panda posse, local partner-in-crime, Nica, and our awesome interns, Pauline and Steph, for a proper post-Anteroom Sessions 2 get-together and celebration. :)
From left to right: Pauline, Nica, myself and Steph
Now onto the figurative meat of this entry. THE FOOD.
Because Nica has low EQ, we started with the vegan Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcake (P50) while waiting for Steph and Pauline. Sad to say, it was very dry and not ooey gooey at all.
The ooey gooey chocolate cupcake dissected:
They do have redeeming vegan cupcakes though. I got to try their Red Velvet Cupcake (P50) a while back, and while I anticipated that it would not match up to my favorite red velvet cupcakes from Sonja’s Cupcakes and Sophie’s Mom, knowing that Pipino didn’t use eggs, butter or cream cheese in the production of their cupcakes, I was quite impressed. I am happy for vegans who have this option.
Some other yummy vegan cupcake offerings I got to sample during our blogger hangout were their Green Tea Cupcakes and their Choco Banana Cupcakes, in miniature versions. I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoyed those. :) Not all cupcakes are available when you walk in though, so if you’re planning to order a dozen or so, try giving them a call a day before to place your order.
After dessert starter comes the real starters, and we started with Brown Rice Rolls (P120) and French Fries (P125). You simply cannot go wrong with their country-style fries. This is one of our staple orders when we have beer with Karlo’s friends at PINO, and I had a huge platter of this in front of me during our blogger hangout, and I just couldn’t stop myself from getting fry after fry. Comes with your choice of garlic aioli, honey mustard, or ketchup as dip. :)
The brown rice rolls were just okay for me. It’s on the pricier side for me, and brown rice being brown rice, it just doesn’t get as soft and sticky as Japanese rice. But it’s a healthier option, definitely.
We also had their Mango Tango Salad (P165), which was a light and refreshing salad with mangoes, cucumber, sliced olives, and a mango vinaigrette dressing.
For our entrees, we had Vegetable Curry (P195), which came with couscous, and had a flavorful and spicy curry sauce that left me and Pauline teary-eyed / sniffling a bit, but we kept getting more. Haha.
We also had the Squash Risotto (P220), which I believe our interns liked, but I thought it could use a little more saltiness and that it could be softer too. It was made with brown rice, if I’m not mistaken, so I think that’s largely a reason why I felt it could be softer.
While I’ve long known of the health benefits of brown rice, I’ve yet to really accept it as something I’d like in my diet, primarily because I usually find it rather dry and lacking in softness. I’m not a big rice-eater to begin with either, so there’s not much value for me in seeking brown rice as an alternative to white rice because I could opt to just omit or cut down on the white rice intake, in favor of noodles or bread.
Next we had a juicy, blood-red steak. Yup, steak: [ORIGIN Middle English : from Old Norse steik; related to steikja ‘roast on a spit’ and stikna ‘be roasted.’]. And the steak in discussion here is a Pipino must-try: Watermelon Steak (P220), with a side of mashed taro.
In no way was this supposed to replicate the taste of a beef steak, because you know when you bite through it, it obviously isn’t. But I thought that the flavor they were able to infuse the watermelon with (probably some acidity from balsamic or red wine vinegar?), the char-grilled quality, the sweet succulence of the watermelon, and the presentation of the dish (complete with the watermelon skin, which when I cut the fruit away from, reminded me of the bone on a steak) kind of blew my mind. I just wish it came with mashed potato or mashed sweet potato instead of taro.
And last but not the least among our entrees, a Pipino must-try, and probably will be a new Pipino / PINO staple for me is their Vegan Cheeseless Lasagna (P120), which apart from being super affordable, is as the name suggests, completely vegan and cheeseless!
Again, I love when people can get so creative with vegan-friendly ingredients and still come up with dishes that can stand up well to the non-vegan options. I’m still a hopeless cheese girl, but I love how the tofu in this dish kind of fooled me into believing there actually was cheese in it.
All of these dishes were downed with my favorite Flavored Beers (P75/glass) from PINO downstairs. My favorite flavors being Peach (which Pauline and Steph got), Honey-mansi (which Nica got after finding out the Watermelon and Lychee were unavailable that night), and Strawberry (a preference of Karlo’s that seems to have rubbed off on me).
Two peaches, a strawberry and a honey-mansi.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. So to cap off our vegan meal, we had a vegan ice cream sampler.
The girs wanted to try out the Banana Sherbet and the Dark Chocolate Ice Cream too, but the only flavors they had then were Oreo (P40), made without the Oreo creme centers so they’re still vegan, Coconut (P35) and Vanilla Graham (P40), so we tried them all!
From left to right: Coconut, Vanilla Graham and Oreo
The unanimous crowd favorite was the Coconut Ice Cream. I’m quite the coconut-head, so yeah, I’m not surprised that this was my favorite.
Whoo! So much food.
I’m still continuing my pursuit for vegetarian fare, so if you guys have suggestions, recipes or restaurants you’d like me to check out, send me a message here on Tumblr, leave a comment, tweet or e-mail me.
In the meantime, some parting words from Pipino that ring true:
Redefining vegging out,
NM Veg Rating
n/a Freelancer-friendly — didn’t check.
Value for money