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