For a (part) vegetarian, it feels nasty to declare my dislike for cucumber. It’s a confused melon wannabe, and only I am entitled to be confused. Don’t you feel like picking it off your kani salad? Bad cucumber. For stealing the limelight from the better tasting crab, which deserves better treatment.
Which is why when I saw Pipino (the restaurant, and the Filipino translation for cucumber), apprehension struck me – for a second or two. Of course I know that the name Pipino stems from a more meaningful history, being related to restaurant Pino and simply making a witty reference to Pipino, the melon wannabe.
It is good to learn that Pipino does not serve all courses with cucumber sticking out of every possible portion, and that it merely positions itself as a vegetarian restaurant. Admittedly, Pipino does sound much better than talong (eggplant), sibuyas (onion) or the market favorite “ker-rot”.
Pino and Pipino (presenting a new alamat title!) are located in the same building along Malingap St., so cross ordering is very much welcome especially if your companion has a need for meat or MSG or simply abhors anything that came from the soil. I have met some people who have a distaste for plants, which I equally respect especially when I myself find no favor in anything that oinked or mooed in its previous life.
The cheesesticks are bathed in pesto and strawberry sauce, overanalyzing the composition is understandable. So hungry was I though that I shoved a third of a stick with all elements present, munched on a nori bit and declared this a succulent snack that bests its street food counterpart. The cheese is thickly spread, so caution on the portion because the sticks are addictive.
Wasabi Caesar Salad
The salad dressing is a Caesar-Asian fusion that brings out a sense of light sweetness over the usual pungent Dijon-garlic ensemble we are used to. The effect is a grander appetite – made more interesting by the carrot shavings that try to emulate bacon. Far from bacon, which I really don’t miss, the carrot (not ker-rot, sorry) provides a complementing sweet siding for the salad. As I am not commenting on the croutons (organic wheat bread), let me just say that when people throw stuff at me, it’s bread that I usually throw back.
Low-Fat Cheese-less Vegan Lasagna
With a title like that, there’s no reason not to order this vegan concoction. Filled with eggplant, zucchini and silken tofu, this ought to be the creation for the likes of me – no cream or excess oil to pick on and no actual cheese to cause me a sleepless night of guilt. But we all know that vegetarians were born to be tortured in this world, and so this dinner was not entirely spared.
The tomato sauce is horridly sweet, I wonder if it was catsup or sugar – either way, this stole my space for dessert. The noodles were on the soggy side, perhaps an overuse of the microwave, which, fine, I completely understand if this was baked for the housewarming. The veggie contents were on the safe side and provided a sense of awe, as I wondered how to prepare a domestic counterpart, al dente of course. The silken tofu though was amazing and I found myself craving for tofu the next day – not in pasta form though.
With pesto and cold soba also on the menu, not to mention those tofu lemongrass skewers, there ought to be a next time. As I said, vegetarians were born to be tortured in this world, but we still have to eat, you know.
Just ditch the cucumber, that’s all I ask!