Sunday, May 25, 2008

Greens Vegetarian Restaurant, Quezon City, Philippines

One of my favorite places to eat in Quezon City is Greens Vegetarian Restaurant. I like Greens because I can eat pretty much anything on the menu. I usually go to this restaurant with my friend Yeng, when we want to discuss whatever's going on with our lives. The place is relatively quiet, so it's a perfect place to catch up with friends. One lazy Saturday afternoon she asked me to have lunch with her there, and I was excited because it would be my first time to go to their new location.

I like the layout of their new place, which is bigger than their former location. There is not much parking though. Also, it’s now harder to park on the street outside their new place because it’s a much busier area.

Yeng and I quickly got down to business. The business of eating, that is. To start, we had the vegetarian chicharon (pork rind). It actually tasted a lot like the usual kropek (fish crackers), but with the shape and texture, you could pretend for a just a little while that you were eating the real thing. (It’s a stretch though.)

Vegetarian Chicharon

We then had the vegetarian sisig and Greens Vegetarian Barbecue. First... about the sisig. It’s made with mashed tofu and gluten, and is seasoned the way sisig usually is- with garlic, onions, and ginger. I thought the serving was pretty generous considering the price of P140. If there were only two of you, and each of you had a cup of rice to go with it, the meal would be more than enough (for a normal appetite, that is).

Vegetarian Sisig

I like their vegetarian barbecue a lot, which is made of sliced gluten. I do miss the taste of Pinoy barbecue- the sweet, slightly charred taste that it has. Greens’ version of pork barbecue reminds me of meals in Aristocrat years back when I was a student in UP (and still eating pork). When I would save my allowance by ordering a stick of barbecue and a cup of rice and putting a lot of sauce on it. Greens also serves their barbecue with achara (pickled salad), which is how I’d eat it in Aristocrat.

Vegetarian Barbecue

I also tried their pumpkin soup. Among all the dishes, this proved to be the disappointment for me. Pumpkin soup is one of my favorites, and Greens’ version was just too bland for me, and that comes from someone who doesn’t like too much salt on her food. It almost seemed like there was no salt at all in the soup. Could be an oversight by the cook, or an overzealous stab at healthy cooking.

All told, I would still come back to this place again and again. Mostly for the barbecue.

Greens Vegetarian Restaurant
92 Sct. Castor Street, Quezon City
Tel. No. 415.4796

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dencio's Grill, Quezon City

Choosing a place where to have lunch during the workweek sometimes presents a bit of a challenge because of the many options available in the area where I work. This is particularly true when I’m eating with friends who have a hard time deciding where exactly to go. Sometimes we lament not having a type A personality in our midst, someone who will simply decide unilaterally and tell us where we should eat.

At any rate, when we have narrowed down our choices somewhat and feel like eating a serious, heavy meal (and if we are in the mood for lots of rice), then we choose to go to Dencio’s. It’s right across the station, and it’s an old reliable place to eat. Like most other restaurants where I eat often, I’ve pretty much narrowed down my choices after some trial and error.

Kangkong with Bagoong

I almost always order one of the following: their Lumpia Bites, Bangus Sisig, and Kangkong with Bagoong. And rice of course. Garlic, if I’m in the mood to indulge.

I like their Kangkong with Bagoong, which is a relatively new choice for me. In the past, I'd usually order the sizzling version. Since I discovered the one with bagoong, that's always my vegetable of choice. All that salt can't be good, and all that cholesterol from the tiny shrimp can't be all that healthy either. But hey, I didn't say we went to Dencio's because of the food's nutritional value.

I like their bangus sisig because the green chili adds just the right amount of hotness. Also, if they put ginger in there to remove the fishy-ness of the bangus, I can't taste it much. I really don't like it when I order some sort of seafood sisig and I can distinctly taste the ginger that they put to fight the fishy taste.

Lumpia Bites

Their Lumpia Bites has a filling also made from bangus. (No, I never get tired of this fish.) I like the homemade taste of this dish, including that of the sweet and sour sauce that most Filipinos are familiar with.

I noticed recently though that the number of pieces in their Lumpia Bites has lessened a bit. I never really kept count so I can't tell for sure how many pieces one order used to have or how many it has now. I just know that there's less lumpia to go around when I order it nowadays.

For dessert, I usually like having the Turon with Ice Cream, but for this visit, my friend Chi tried the healthy alternative, which is the fruit platter. I shared some of her fruit, but since we almost fought over the mango and we both ended up ignoring the rest of the fruits, we decided to just have the Turon next time.

Fruit Platter

Dencio's Bar and Grill
Bohol Avenue, Quezon City

Friday, May 09, 2008

Grams Diner, ELJ Building, Quezon City

When construction on the 9501 ELJ building of ABS-CBN was completed around seven years ago, one thing that we employees looked forward to was the row of restaurants that would open along with it. There are a lot of restaurants near the office, but sometimes, you can just get too lazy to drive to eat out.

So, it was great to have places to eat right at the building. At that time, the three restaurants that you would encounter at the building's main entrance were Cibo, Starbucks, and Cork.

Cibo and Starbucks have withstood the test of time (thus far), but Cork has since folded up. In its place now stands Grams Diner. I remember that we featured this restaurant years ago on the now-defunct lifestyle show "F". At that time, Grams could only be found in Rockwell. It has expanded and now has four branches.

The restaurant serves "feel good comfort food" as their tagline says. It now is very popular among ABS-CBN diners, and is definitely busier than Cork was. I think it has survived because the prices are reasonable and its market is different from its neighbor Cibo. Numerous office meetings are held in the diner, because of its proximity to the TV station, and probably the bright fluorescent lights which can be useful in (some) meetings.

Because the diner is at the ground floor of the building I work in, it's easily the default place to go to when I want a quick uncomplicated meal. In fact I go there so often and I always order the same thing that sometimes the waiters already know what I will have. "Carrot and squash soup and fish steak?", they ask. I don't like being so predictable, but that's really what I have most of the time so they can't be blamed for knowing exactly what I want.

Carrot and Squash Soup

The carrot and squash soup is a steal at P55. I hope they don't raise their price because that is one selling point of this dish- it's cheap. I do like this soup though. I did notice that it has become a little watery of late, and that the soup fills less of the bowl than it has in the past.

Fish Steak

The fish steak is nothing really complicated. It's fish with sauce made mainly with sauteed minced garlic and soy sauce. The dish is pretty simple, but as their tagline says, it's comfort food. It's exactly the kind of dish that my mother would cook when she didn't have time for much fancy preparation.

Coffee Torte

When I need to have my sugar fix (which is pretty much each mealtime), I have their Coffee Torte, which I personally think is the best thing Grams Diner has to offer. (Although admittedly I've only tried around seven things on their menu.)

The taste of this dessert is quite close to one of my favorite desserts, which is Coffee Pie at Chateau 1771. Sometimes though, the Coffee Torte runs out, since they only have a few pieces available each day.

These things that I usually order are exactly what Grams touts them to be. Feel good comfort food. The Coffee Torte, particularly.

Grams Diner
The Loop, ELJCC Building
Sgt. Esguerra cor. Mother Ignacia
Quezon City
Tel. 412.2871