In this era of trending healthy eats we often see salads, smoothies, and lots of organic food, most of which are quite bland, makes you crave for regular food, and quite expensive but not really satisfying. But what if I told you that you can eat healthy and at the same time satisfy your craving for flavorful dishes for a fair price?
The Vegetarian Kitchen (TVK), a quaint restaurant tucked in the busy street of Mother Ignacia in Quezon City, offers a different take on healthy eating, bringing us well-loved, home-cooked meals packed with delightful flavors that will satisfy your taste buds.
Owner Tita Soliongco started serving her delectable dishes in the 1980s in a small garage in Scout Tuazon, Quezon City, driven by her faith (Hare Krishna) and her love for cooking vegetarian dishes, most of which are developed by trial and error until her family deems it scrumptious enough to serve in their restaurant. TVK offers different vegetarian and vegan dishes from different cuisines (not just the usual Indian or Chinese cooking) that will leave a lasting impression on Filipinos’ taste buds. Tita closed her restaurant for a while but made a huge comeback in the ’90s (at Mother Ignacia street), making hers one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in the country. As one of the pioneers in offering vegetarian cooking, what she aspires to is to serve good food, an alternative to meat dishes, but cooked with so much love and passion it gives you the same satisfaction and warmth as your mom’s (or grandma’s) home-cooked meals.
One of the TVK crowd favorites is their Classic Caldereta, a viand bursting with so much flavor it’s as if you’re eating real beef! Their constant best-seller, Chaesig Bibimbap, tastes exactly how bibimbap would taste, you wouldn’t know it’s vegan. And if you’re in a mood for a good crunch you can never go wrong with their Crispy Tofu Skin, their version of a healthy chicharon partnered with a sweet and savory sauce. Their other specialties include Satay Barbeque and Vegetable Skewers which are very smokey and savory, and their new Binagoongan Pasta made with their very own miso bagoong, which tastes like the bagoong we love minus the fishy taste and smell. Aside from the usual menu, they have monthly specials that the regulars always look forward to. What we love about TVK is that they never cease to improve and experiment on their dishes to get the taste that would bring their customers the taste of comfort in a healthier alternative.
Kiko Soliongco, Tita’s son who manages the restaurant, also has a few tricks up his sleeve with the desserts served in TVK. His Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake is so sinfully good you won’t believe you’re eating something guilt-free. When asked about how they pick the menu for the restaurant, Kiko fondly states that it’s a family effort, where they experiment on a new dish and continue to improve it until they all agree that it’s ready for the restaurant—an excellent quality control method in order to give their best to their customers.
As if the good food TVK serves isn’t already heaven-sent, Tita manages to give more to her customers by also conducting vegetarian and vegan cooking lessons monthly (just go to their Facebook page for details). Tita wants to introduce the basic procedure in cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes, which she thinks is more important than teaching recipes because her aim for every cooking class is that people learn to cook by themselves. She also assures people that the ingredients she uses are easy to come by in the market or in groceries, since she wants everyone to have cheap and accessible ingredients by using common spices and meat substitutes. How can we not love this restaurant more and more?
So don’t worry if you love meat a lot or are just trying out being vegetarian or vegan, TVK has your taste buds covered. You won’t even notice the difference. – article by Nicole Galleon