Are we in Taiwan? Nestled amongst the many little shops lining up Masangkay Street in Binondo, Happy Veggie has a very unassuming store front. Steaming hot vegetarian buns right at the store window invite hungry souls. My personal favorite? The mushroom bun (Php 25).
The happy logo. The brightly lit entrance to the restaurant welcome guests. Is that an ampalaya (bitter gourd) peeping behind the restaurant name? The restaurant interior uses warm colors that naturally stimulate the appetite -- lots of yellow and orange there.
It's time for lunch. Happy Veggie boasts of clean interiors. The only smells are that of their sizzling dishes. Bringing meat products inside the store premises is strictly not allowed. Happy Veggie has some dishes that contain egg and some dishes where egg is optional.When a picture stimulates a thousand taste buds. If you're undecided on what to order, simply look to the wall for some ideas. Happy Veggie has mounted blown up pictures of their house specials. You can also request for their "photo album" which has realistic pictures of the dishes (no Photoshop tricks).
The sizzling tao pao roll (Php 150). Tao pao refers to the "skin" of the tofu. It has a unique texture and has the ability to absorb sauces well. This dish is extra tasty.
My all-time favorite, mushrooms with sesame (Php 97). They look like baby eels. Practically all the friends I brought to Happy Veggie love this dish. You wonder how they made the black mushrooms into extra-long strips. They're fried into a crisp in a light batter and topped with a sweet tangy sesame sauce.
Going vegetarian at home. Happy Veggie carries a number of vegetarian products, mostly from Taiwan, although there are a few local products. You can find wheat germ, powdered almond milk, vegetarian meat floss, vegetarian fish cakes, vegetable based broths (using mushroom extracts) and many many more.