Restaurant Spotlight: Pino Resto Bar + Pipino VegetarianSeptember 27, 2018
- Mikka WeeWords
Makati City is known for its busy streets, pollution-infused air, and a workforce with boiling-point stress levels. On the other hand, it is also known for dining spots that cater to those with sophisticated and “refined” palettes (the sort where spoons are given only upon request), and an unparalleled nightlife teeming with halogen-lit pubs and quirky holes-in-the-wall that come with fingerprint locks on their doors.
With this sort of hoity-toity vibe spanning the Central Business District, you may wonder where a humble and restaurant like Pino Resto Bar + Pipino Vegetarian fits in. And yet this unassuming restaurant, which first opened in Maginhawa, can now be found in Makati City—on Jupiter Street, to be exact.
Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by an interior that’s anything but intimidating. The “Pino” area is lined with white tables and chairs. A picket fence-like partition separates it from Pipino Vegetarian’s dining area where red brick walls provide a homey contrast to the stark interiors.
Vegetarians, we were told, prefer to eat at some distance from the meat-eaters.
For those of you who aren’t from the North familiar with Pino Resto Bar + Pipino Vegetarian, Pino serves creative comfort Filipino food (hence, Pino), whereas Pipino presents vegetables in more playful light.
Pino Resto Bar
“With Pino, I just wanted to have fun with Filipino food,” says Chef Ed Bugia, the culinary mastermind behind both Pino and Pipino. “I wanted to redefine the concept and serve something special.”
Pino does have a fun line-up of local dishes, and choosing what to order may take some time since Chef Ed wasn’t kidding about being more creative with Filipino comfort food. The following are some of their bestsellers.
Mini Sisig Tacos: Mini tacos filled with pork sisig, lettuce, tomato salsa, and cheese. (Php 225)
These tiny tacos are generously stuffed, and are a good appetizer for an army of starving souls.
Chicken Inasal Caesar Salad: Mixed lettuce greens served with grilled Chicken Inasal and a fish sauce-calamansi Caesar dressing. (Php 175)
If you’re not really into sisig (or if you just really want to eat “healthy”), this is perhaps the alternative for you. Filipino-style barbecued chicken (Inasal) replaces the traditional grilled variety.
Kare-Kareng Bagnet Authentic Ilokano crispy pork belly, served with annatto-peanut sauce and bagoong rice. (Php 255 Single, Php 565 Family)
This is perfect for “cheat days”, when you want some crackly pork skin (and fat) swimming in that nutty orange sauce. Complemented by the bagoong rice, this deconstructed Kare-Kare is a novel version of the traditional favorite.
Kansi: Tender beef cubes in a sour broth, served with a roasted beef marrow. (Php 345)
Though the classic Kansi has no beef marrow in it, Chef Ed uses the fatty tissue for his signature take on this Ilonggo specialty. Upon serving, the marrow is scooped out of the bone and added to the soup.
Coffee Crusted Beef Belly: U.S. Beef Belly with coffee spice rub, served with marble potatoes, bistek gravy, and red wine onion marmalade. (Php 265)
Filipinos love coffee, and its unusual pairing with the tangy bistek sauce is a remarkable quality of the dish.
Chunky Choco Tempura: Chocolate wafer bar dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried. Served with ice cream and chocolate & strawberry sauces. (Php 125)
This deep-fried dessert is like Wicked Oreos, and is just one way to cap off your meal.
Pipino Vegetarian may be straightforward about what it is, but Chef Ed tells us that the food they serve is actually vegan. Apart from not serving meat, they also ensure that no animal by-products make it to the dishes they serve. This means that you won’t find any honey, fish sauce, and white sugar on the menu here.
Interesting fact: White sugar isn’t considered vegan because sometimes, crushed animal bones are added to make the sugar white.
Tofu Lemongrass Skewers with chili-garlic sauce and alfalfa (Php 145)
Tofu is rich in protein, making it a good substitute for meats.
Portobello Inasal with Red Beet Puree, Ensaladang Talong, and Brown Rice. (Php 145)
In this dish, we were served mushroom bacon, which tasted identical to its porky counterpart. It’s great how chefs are beginning to baconize ingredients that otherwise don’t resemble bacon at all.
Stuffed Demi-Dried Tomatoes with Brown Rice, Mushroom Salpicao, and Orange Leek Salad. (Php 225)
These stuffed tomatoes are a meal on their own. The brown rice is seasoned with a number of spices, making it a zesty contrast to the fleshy fruit.
Watermelon Steak with Taro Miso Mash, String Beans, and Pickled Mushrooms (Php 220)
This is probably the choice dish for newly-christened vegetarians who miss eating steak. Chef Ed’s recreation of the savory steak flavor and smokiness is spot-on.
Black Bean Burger with Lettuce & Mango Salsa on a Whole Wheat Bun. Served with Sweet Potato Fries and Aioli. (Php 155)
Nope, that burger isn’t burnt. In fact, its texture is crumblier than ordinary meat burgers while sporting a clean and earthy flavor. The sweet potato fries add a taste of fat to complete the burger experience.
Pino Resto Bar + Pipino Vegetarian provide a haven for busy Makati worker bees who need some breathing space. Its laid-back, easygoing vibe sets it apart from most Makati dining establishments, and its daring take on Filipino favorites and vegetarian food caters to the grumbling bellies of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores alike.
Pino Resto Bar + Pipino Vegetarian
38 Jupiter St., Bel-Air
(02) 550 17 81
Store Hours: Sundays from 5:00pm-10:00pm, M-Sat from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; 5:00–11:30 pm)
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