For the carnivore, a visit to a vegetarian restaurant is an extreme adventure, with vegetarian dishes as forms of extreme cuisine. It was a definite type of extreme meal which led me to this adventure: sampling the watermelon steak as rapturously described by the Rappler. My curiosity piqued by the hyperbolic article, I duped a pack of ravenous meat-eaters into accompanying me to the restaurant that served this dish, though I feared that if the food sucked, they would rip me into pieces and have my remains for lunch.
(Pino and Pipino)
The aforementioned dining place is Pipino, a vegan restaurant located at #39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village. To the relief of my companions, Pipino temporarily shared the same space as Pino, its non-vegan sister restaurant. This led a lady in our group to declare: “We will order the meat dishes. You settle for the watermelon steak.” To which I replied: “But what is the point of our trip if we wouldn’t try the vegetarian dishes, especially the watermelon steak?” Our argument was settled when a Solomonic and, quite frankly, gluttonous member of the pack suggested that we order both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
(Deep Fried Starter)
(Breaded Clams with Wasabi and Oyster Sauce)
And worthy of wise Solomon the decision was! We enjoyed both sets of dishes, though admittedly we enjoyed the meals with the dead life forms more than the plant-based cuisine. Notable were the deep fried starter (sinful!), the breaded clams in wasabi and oyster sauce (highly recommended!), and the chicken inasal accompanied by rice with mango bits (looks and tastes classy).
(Portobello Mushroom Burger)
We were also delighted by what I dub as tranny cuisine – dishes with stuff masquerading as another ingredient, much like a tranny masquerades as a person of another gender. We enjoyed the tranny burger (burger made of portabello mushroom) and the tranny lasagna (lasagna with tofu in lieu of cheese). Delicious, though for me my mother’s home-cooked tranny meals – puso ng saging burger and spinach lasgna – surpass these goodies.
The watermelon steak. Perhaps the waiter forgot our order, or the dish was so magnificent that it has to be the climax of a series of delectable meals. We reminded the waiter of the fabulous meat facsimile, and sat in nervous anticipation of what was to come. By what alchemy can the chef of Pino transmute a lowly slice of watermelon into magnificent and succulent steak?
Unfortunately, it was not alchemy but delusion. Slathering a watermelon with barbecue sauce does not make it taste like steak; it makes it taste like a watermelon slathered in barbecue sauce. It would have been equally repulsive but more economical if we simply doused a slice of papaya with barbecue sauce and called it papaya steak.
We had a great time at Pino/Pipino. Great food, and with that abominable dish as an entertaining conversation fodder.