07 January 2008
My Secret Veggie Source
In the Philippines, where almost all food is laced with some form of animal-based ingredient, if not made entirely of flesh, vegetarian options are hard to come by. From the usual fish sauce (Patis) or fish paste (Bago-ong) commonly used for dipping or cooking, to the roast pig (Lechon), eaten in its entirety, rarely will you find a savory dish in this country suitable for vegetarians, much less for vegans. Although there are many dishes that can be decently prepared without meat while remaining fairly true to its original flavor, it is rare to find them readily available.
So, with our usual family fare of pasta, pakbet, labong, adobong kangkong, pansit, fritters, munggo, lumpia, torta, curries and oh so many more, all eaten as-is or with rice, and prepared with absolutely no meat or animal-based products, it is nice to break the monotony and try something different now and then.
There is this place I go to in Makati, where I secure practically all of my vegetarian products from. The place is called Veggie Boutique and the reason I choose to go there instead of the other shops deep in QC, Binondo or Laguna is because of two important factors: Accessibility and Price. The products I get there allow me and my family to prepare something out of the ordinary.
It is there that I get my fresh tofu, magic meat, mushroom sauce and other supplies. They have frozen items too, my favorites being the barbeque (P50 for 4 sticks) and mock corned beef (P60/200g pack), which are both home-made. Other home-made items are also available, such as frozen ham (P130/500g) and ready-to-eat chicharon (P20). They likewise carry imported vegetarian products, mostly from Taiwan, and organic products such as brown rice (P80/2 kilos), mascovado (P80/Kilo) and virgin coconut oil (P120/500ml.). Condiments available include home-made catsup (no onions or garlic), vegetarian seasoning, mushroom oyster sauce, veg patis and a whole lot more. Take note, as a meat replacement, Gluten costs just P90 a kilo, much less than flesh meat but more filling and definitely healthier, unless of course you are allergic to it. Another wonderful alternative is Meat Magic, a dehydrated protein-rich mix of seaweed, wheat and other ingredients that, once rehydrated, is good in stews and other dishes we all but grew up with. At P130/500g dehydrated, that is cheap. Try rehydrating some and see how much more they weigh out.
With all these, I am able to add that little new ingredient to Kare-kare, or prepare adobo sans the meat, Paksiw na Veggie-fish, that little something extra to Sinigang, Pochero's slew of vegetables + 1 new entrant --- I know, it may sound weird to most people, that someone would go veggie but look for meat dishes. I say, look at it from a different perspective, and that is partaking of the traditional dishes of your country, taking in the flavor, less the flesh. After all, isn't it the peanut sauce that gives flavor to the Kare-kare, vinegar and soy sauce to the adobo, onions and soy sauce to the Bistek, Sampaloc to the sinigang, Gata and dahon ng Gabi to the Laing, Suka, luya and bawang to the Paksiw, Tomato sauce to the Kaldereta and so on?
Which is why I always keep some of their products in stock at home, also because Veggie Boutique's prices are comparable to those at source, as I have been able to benchmark with other shops. More than just a business, I believe that this is an advocacy of theirs, which is why the prices need not be exorbitant.
They also offer vitamins and supplements such as Fern-C and Homeopathic first aid alternatives. A health drink made from pure Noni juice is also available there.
Pleasantly, it is run from a home in Palm Village, Makati, near the corner of EDSA and Estrella Streets and is also a stone's throw away from Rockwell mall. Being located in a village, I have never had problems with parking, usually able to pull my car right in front. It is open practically all day, even during weekends. I usually call though, before dropping by, just to make sure.
Veggie Boutique is located at 532 Camia St., Palm Village, Makati City. Tel. No. +632.896.1215.