Vegetarian food: Sian Tian Health Food Center

If you’re a vegetarian and you live in the Philippines, you will certainly have a hard time!   There’s MEAT everywhere you look.  Filipinos just love meat.  Everywhere you go meat is being served in one form or another.   People in Bacolod really love meat.  I remember my friends were taking a vegetarian friend around town and they had to call me to recommend a place where they don’t serve meat (or fish.)

One of the places that serve vegetarian food is the Sian Tian Health Food Center.  It is located on Burgos Street right next to the YMCA.   It is relatively easy to find but it is tucked away at the back of several buildings.

The Divine Institute of Chong Shu. This sounds like the entrance to a martial arts dojo.

At first I had misgivings about going to this place.  It looked a little creepy and why was it tucked way in the back?  I mustered my courage and walked bravely on.  I expected that ninjas would jump out at me.  Well not really but you have to pass through this alleyway to get to it.

Oooh… at least I can see a WELCOME sign in the distance!

Finally I reached the Center.  It looked like a huge school.  Upon further investigation this was a Buddhist center with the “restaurant” serving food separate from the main building.

This is the Buddhist Center. If you’re looking for the restaurant it’s to the left of this building.

This little building is the place where food is served.  I spotted a motorbike parked outside and headed in.  It looked like your typical cafeteria complete with aluminum display case with the food inside.    The place was empty except for a group of three Indians sitting at a table and chatting.  This is a good sign that this restaurant really serves vegetarian food.  

This is where they serve the food!

I had arrived a little late for lunch and there was next to nothing left.  I snapped a few photos of their lunch and took a look around.

I couldn’t understand the server’s thick chinese accent but from what I learned the food on the lower left is asparagus with veggie meat, the upper right is some veggie adobo with mushrooms?? and some vegetable empanada.

So this place is filled with freezers and displays of veggie meat, soy protein and a lot of other products.  I had fun just poking around before deciding to order.   If you want to order stuff like soy meat, tofu, soy milk, carrot juice, calamansi juice and bamboo shoots in bulk, this place is the place for you.

A shelf filled with vegetarian goods.

I had a laugh over the vegetarian goods.  These are so Interesting!

Vegetarian Barbecue Sauce. For real?? Isn’t barbecue usually done with meat? You can barbecue vegetables but coating them with sauce and pretending that they’re meat? Really..
Meatless Spaghetti Sauce. You would think that this would be ordinary plain but nope, this has bits of soy meat in it so it looks like meaty spaghetti sauce.
So this is what Veggie meat looks like. Or is this a dried mushroom? I can’t tell.

I was getting hungry so it was time to order!  The counter had this perky looking steamer with Siopao vegetarian meat buns inside and they looked so tempting.  They weren’t soggy at all.   The Siopao came in three kinds, asado, (28 pesos) bola bola (30 pesos)  and Bamboo shoots with mock pork. (veggie meat. 30 pesos.)

Ok so i bought a couple of buns because they looked really good.

Asado and Bola Bola Veggie Siopao.

I tried the bola bola siopao.  It tasted ok. There was a lot of stringy stuff and there were chunks of veggie meat in it.  It tasted like meat but not quite like meat.  The texture is interesting.  The veggie meat actually looks like meat and it is even a little pinkish.

Bola BolaSiopao

The asado siopao was next and it tasted great!  It came with some chinese barbecue sauce inside and it had lots of little herbs and even had some mushrooms!  Wow!  After I polished off one, I immediately ordered another.  I had become used to the veggie meat taste and texture by now.

Veggie Asado Siopao with mushrooms and chinese herbs and veggie meat.

As I polished off the buns and walked to the counter to order a drink the waitress came over with a smile on her face.  She had enjoyed watching me off the buns in quick succession and she pointed out the bamboo shoot bun and suggested I try it.

The Bamboo shoot bun.
Wow! The bamboo shoot bun looks fantastic!

Cut in half and examined, the bamboo shoot bun is filled with lots of bamboo shoots and veggie meat.  It is very filling and there is a slight crunch from the bamboo shoots.

I recommend Sian Tian for those who are looking to buy vegetarian products!  If you’re interested please try their siopao too!  However the taste might not be for everyone’s liking.    Honestly the siopao is better than most meat siopaos I’ve had.  For those with more adventurous palates, try their veggie siopao.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul says:

    finally the review I’ve been waiting for… one question though,do they open on sundays? i plan to have my post bike ride snack at this place… fair price for the siopao,the asado looks very tempting…hehe..

    1. Martin Banana says:

      I don’t think that they’re open on Sundays

  2. I like Sian Tian. I usually get a couple of viands and rice for a meal. If they have fresh tofu/taoho, I bring a block back home for culinary experimentation.

  3. Jj says:

    Yum ang FResh LUMPIA noila mart

    1. Martin Banana says:


  4. Raffy says:

    I’ve been visiting that place since ’05 and I’ll still keep on going there as long as I’m in Bacolod (especially during Lent!). The food there was actually better during that time especially since there was a lot more variety in the viands they served then.

    I even managed to convert a friend of mine who was a hardcore carnivore into a lover of vegetables. 😀

    I suggest trying their vegetarian makimi (available only on Mondays) as well as the ground veggie meat.

    1. Martin Banana says:

      Thanks for the tip will go there on monday

  5. Kris Jou says:


    I’m the son of the ‘server with thick Chinese accent’ and I give you my thanks for writing this review. We’ve had frequent and loyal Indian customers for over 15 years now, and I think one reason is we always buy curry powders from Indian markets.

    The store opens at the morning, as early as 8 AM, and usually we get the most customers around 12 noon, so you can definitely swing by and buy more meals around that time! Glad you liked our siopao, they are our bestsellers. I also think you’ll like our spring rolls (lumpia) too!

  6. I love your story Martin… it’s interesting. Sian Tian has always been a blessing to me since i decided to embrace strict vegetarian lifestyle. The food are really really good. The place is clean, quiet and cool, and the crew are always courteous and kind enough. It is only here where I buy ingredients for my daily food preparations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s