Try This: Hillside Café & Juice Bar’s Roasted Potato and Globe EggplantMay 1, 2017
Hillside Café & Juice Bar is a quaint café almost hidden amongst the lush greens of the Cedarhills Garden Center—almost because the stunning greenery of both the restaurant and the garden center are striking in the concrete jungle of Quezon City. The vertical garden that surrounds the H logo on the façade of the building changes monthly according to the plants in season (“So we can tell the date of your last Instagram pic,” jokes PJ Lanot), and in a space out back, the café grows its own fresh herbs whenever possible to use in their fresh drinks or dishes.
“Whole foods, superfoods, healthy and natural.” This is what PJ Lanot, who owns the restaurant together with his wife Alessa Lanot and their friends the Hilario family, tells us you can find in the restaurant. “You don’t have to feel hungry to get healthy,” he says. “You just have to eat right.” The restaurant itself is not vegetarian, though both Alessa and Noelle Hilario (who develops the juices and smoothies) are, but it offers healthy and tasty dishes that suit a variety of diets. Brown rice instead of white rice, chicken that is air-fried, muscovado instead of processed sugar—PJ explains that it is the kind of restaurant where they want to give you your healthiest option, without sacrificing taste. And in fact, in the process, they are able to offer an even better taste, as he explains that they use natural vanilla bean instead of artificial flavoring in their ingredients that it took one of their customers as a shock—they simply were not used to the real thing.
Childhood friends with Chef Niño Laus of Ninyo Fusion and Alamat among others, PJ Lanot reveals that Chef Niño actually developed the food at Hillside. Below is one of the tastiest dishes we’ve ever had designed by Chef Niño that is a must-order at Hillside.
ROASTED POTATO AND GLOBE EGGPLANT
This vegetarian dish tastes of anything but deprivation. The hearty, thick cuts of globe eggplant give a thick bite, and contrast with the beancurd chicharon that is crunchy on the outside and flimsy on the inside in the way that tofu is. Organic arugula is tossed over it, thicker and crunchier than any we’ve had from the supermarket. A thick miso paste adds an umami depth and tempers the bitterness of the arugula. It also adds a fishy taste that makes you forget you’re eating something devoid of meat. Whether you eat meat or not, it is hard to not enjoy this dish.
MANGO BEET SMOOTHIE
We’re not going to slice it: beet can often taste like dirt. But in this thick, superfood-filled smoothie, it is perfectly complemented by the sometimes overly sweet mango. A medley of the two balance an earthy and fruity taste to find a yin-and-yang balance. Their smoothies have no water or sugar added and PJ says that because of their high nutritional value and heaviness, many people use them to replace their meals.
Light as air, the orange chiffon cake is like biting into a cloud. The subtle orange flavor is just enough to keep you searching for it in every bite until your last, teasing your tastebuds to keep wanting more, and when you bite into a crunchy, glazed orange bit, it’s like finding gold.
HILLSIDE CAFÉ AND JUICE BAR
Hillside Café and Juice Bar is a restaurant that specializes in healthy food suitable to any diet, as well as juices and smoothies.