Nowadays, grabbing a healthy lunch is not always easy. That’s unless of course you live in an area where all the freshest ingredients and colorful vegetables can be found. One afternoon, as I was searching the web for “healthy eating restaurants,” I found Pino Resto Bar in Jupiter Street, Makati. I heartily bookmarked it on Zomato and decided to treat my family to lunch on a Sunday. Their menu turned out to be a riot of plates whose ingredients tumbled across vegetarian and non-vegetarian modern Filipino dishes. These are food which I describe as those that aren’t ashamed of their nutritional stats. 🙂

For those of you who don’t frequent the North and are not familiar with Pino Resto Bar + Pipino Vegetarian, Pino serves creative comfort Filipino food, while Pipino presents vegetables in more playful light. The person behind both is Chef Ed Bugia who wanted to redefine the concept of Filipino comfort food and serve something special.

Review of Pino Resto Bar (Bel-Air, Makati City)

Service: ★★★★★

The entire place was reserved to a christening of a baby that day. I didn’t call ahead and make a reservation, so that was my bad. Pino Resto Bar was nicely setup with pink balloons and white curtain-like table cloths. I’m sure the place is not designed like that normally, so I won’t anymore give a rating for the ambiance.

Leaving Pino without tasting its food would be a letdown. On that note, I asked the staff if they could allow us to be seated at The Burger Project instead, since it’s operated by the same management as Pino Resto Bar anyway. Fortunately, he agreed and assisted us to the adjacent restaurant. We ordered food from there, and the dishes quickly arrived from a shared kitchen of BRGR and Pino.

Food: ★★★★☆

Sufficiently buttery, Pino’s version of the Vegetable Kare-kare (PhP 185) was not the best I have tasted so far but it could be unfailingly pleasing for most vegetarians and vegans alike. I found the nuttiness a little bland if not eaten with the Bagoong Rice (below) made of black beans. To improve, I think the taste will be enhanced if there’s some level of heat we can live with.

The Calamares Negra (PhP 275) was comforting and slightly elevated. Because they’re black, you might have the impression that the pieces were dipped in squid ink. I don’t know if that’s right, but I’m sure that these hit the spot as they’re quite exotic and yummy. It’s a new spin from a simply fried calamari with a golden crust we often are served in most restaurants.

The quality of layered pasta in Pino Resto Bar’s Vegan Lasagna (PhP 175) was great. Balanced in flavor, this lasagna had a great mix of sweet and tart elements—the kind of bright, popping flavors that Southeast Asian cuisine is known for. The tomato sauce dominated the top part and it was assertive but not so much as to overwhelm the vegetarian fillings.

As the name Watermelon Steak (PhP 245) appeared on the menu, it got me curious on how it would look and taste like. It sounded suspicious and ended up nothing particularly good. Watermelon juice oozing out in every forkbite was just weird. The mushrooms, asparagus and mashed potatoes were memorably delicious.

We destroyed the mystery of kale and malunggay in one when we had two orders of  the Kale Malunggay Pesto Pasta (PhP 195). Hearty and heavy went hand-in-hand. With a substantial amount of pesto flavor, this pasta dish could be better with toasted pine nuts scattered on top and a bit of grated Parmesan.

Having started our day at Pino with kare-kare, it was perfectly acceptable to end it with one, too. This time though, we had the Seafood Kare-kare (PhP 625) which featured various seafood such as shrimps, mussels and squids. It was totally likable. The peanut gravy and the coconut milk blended well together. Adding an extra luscious dimension was the richness of the texture of the sauce. This can be your Achilles heel!

Price for Value: ★★★★

The meal was certainly not cheap considering the small serving size of the dishes, but overall it was not preposterously expensive either. Most of the dishes are around the PhP 200 mark, and the mains similarly push you to spend from about PhP 250 to PhP300. To get lucky with good choices, the trick is to realize before you place your order what you are going to get. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, or probably a mix of both.

38 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City
For inquiries, call 550-1781
Date Published: 07/12/2014
Operating Hours: Sundays from 5:00pm-10:00pm, M-Sat from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; 5:00–11:30 pm)
13 / 15 stars

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Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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84 Responses

  1. Wanderer Juan

    Great detailed review of Pino, I’m not vegeterian. I can’t stand the thought of not eating meat haha, but this resto looks like a nice place to try out.

    Reply
  2. Shirgie Scf

    I have read your description of food based on the taste. Since I could not taste it, I could not agree or disagree. But one thing that made me want to try eating at this resto is their presentation of the food. I have read the list of food you presented here and I can say that these are just common food for Filipino, but they served the food with extra twist, they got me there.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      For sure, the food were presented nicely. If you’re not keen much on sampling vegetarian food, know that this establishment also offers meaty dishes – all Filipino comfort food to warm your soul. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Yen

    I don’t like veggies but I’m now interested to try this resto after reading your review. That Vegan Lasagna got me curios!

    Reply
  4. Don Purdum

    I love veggies and the types of plates you posted. It looks like great food. And your score for service looks good as well.

    Looks like a successful visit!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, successful and happy. We were almost lost for directions. Good thing that their staff also responded fast when we called them while in the car so we were able to locate the restaurant via landmarks.

      Reply
  5. Angela Kinder

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I have to say that the food looks good! The only thing that has me kind of weirding out is the watermelon steak. How could they think that watermelon would make a good steak substitute? There are so many different substitutions they could have used!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, I agree. It was not good. In any case, I think that part is experimental. Others may find it satisfying to taste a different texture of “meat” for steak. Why not fruit instead of the usual veggie meat or tofu – that probably must be the idea of Pino when they were creating the menu.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah. This is one of the better vegetarian spots that I have been to. Add to that was service was above average because they came around taking the plates away and refilled our waters constantly.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Nice! You should try the authentic ones and compare them with the fusion/modern recipes with a twist so you’d know which one you appreciate more. 😀

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I think the meatless lasagna will be one of your favorite vegan dishes. Why not pick up a cookbook or some reference online and bake one yourself? 😀

      Reply
  6. Sarah

    How interesting and exotic! I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try that calamari 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The calamari is one of the staple food of most bars. I like that Pino Resto Bar’s calamari can be set apart from the rest because of its color. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Millie

    I’m not vegetarian but I love veggies. If I ever get the chance to visit the place, I’d love to try the vegan pasta and the calamares negra 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s great that vegetarian food these days don’t appear to be dull and uninteresting. The improved visual will enhance your appetite more. 🙂

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It wasn’t our first but definitely we haven’t encountered seafood kare-kare more than three times. You’re right. Most restaurants here serve either vegetarian or the meaty one that’s filled with beef or pork shanks.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, this can be considered as a fun, periodic destination but can’t possibly be an every-day lunch stop (watch out for little servings of food and high price). 😛

      Reply
  8. papaleng

    I am basing my judgment on your observations and photos. I guess, the place is good and the dishes seems yummy. Yung seafood kare-kare is a thing worth trying.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The Seafood Kare-kare is a nice twist to the traditional kare-Kare. Get the one that’s for sharing when you’re dining with your family kasi the small size one will be good only for one person (yes, that small).

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Good idea. Eating more vegetables can improve her overall health and well-being, and the good thing is that the taste buds for ordinary vegetable dishes or salads won’t be compromised. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Jonas Labagala

    I’ve tried a Vegetarian Kare-kare at Gilligan’s and it was heaven! Good thing Pino Resto Bar is serving Vegetarian Lasagna for those who are into veggies. But their meal is a bit expensive. 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Agree. This is a good place you can recommend though to people who detest the idea of eating vegetables. 🙂 Now, the thought of eating greens and healthy meals doesn’t mean you have to take only boring, humdrum dishes. Turn off the misconception that all dishes are just an arrangement of bland vegetables.

      Reply
  10. Kath Rivera

    I’ve been hearing so many great reviews about PINO. The branch at Maginhawa village will be my best bet if I’ll be craving for the Kale and Malunggay Pesto and the Vegan Lasagna.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      If that branch is more accessible to you, then go ahead and come on in. 🙂 I’ve seen that place once and I think it’s a bit livelier there.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Everyone loves pasta and lasagna is one of the most favorite. A few interesting ingredients to spice it up sum up to this wonderful vegan lasagna. This is a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables! 😉

      Reply
  11. Rebecca Swenor

    I guess I would try eating here. I am not a vegetarian but the food looks good. I don’t like seafood like shrimp or clams though. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  12. germz

    that’s one healthy pinoy food there. somehow i always have space for veggies and this must be perfect to try if i’m visiting nearby the area.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      These are great vegetarian alternatives to your everyday Filipino home-cooked meals. If you’re tired of eating the same food offered by mainstream restaurants, PINO should be your next stop. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Brijdeep

    wow amazing for a healthy eating.. I always cook at home, but oh my god, those pictures of food look so amazing I am drooling.. simply superb !!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Brijdeep. I recommend Pino Resto Bar’s vegetarian dishes. They surely expand one’s horizons when it comes to vegetarian eating. 😀

      Reply
  14. Nicole Brady

    I was intrigued by the watermelon steak until you said it was nothing special. Then I got to the pasta and it looked divine!

    Reply
  15. michele d

    The pesto pasta looks delicious. Looks like a wonderful restaurant.

    Reply
  16. Don Purdum

    Another great post!!!! The Vegan Lasagna looks absolutely delicious.

    Reply
  17. Sharon

    Some of that stuff is so foreign to me, scares me half to death thinking of eating any of it. Though I’m a HUGE fan of calamari

    Reply
  18. Alysia

    I love the way you write- it gives a clear, honest opinion and that’s very refreshing when it comes to review blogs!

    Reply
  19. John Lopez

    Everything looks so delicious, thanks for showing us what it’s all about.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Sure. You won’t regret your visit here. 🙂 To be safe, call first before arriving so you won’t end up like us who didn’t get to experience dining in the actual Pino restaurant hehe.

      Reply
  20. Mindy

    The dishes looks nice, makes me determined to try Filipino’s food in the future! The steak watermelon though… looks very weird and… i dunno, i don’t even like watermelon in the first place!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yeah it’s different. The reality is that people are always curious to find something odd and want to try it. You never know if it’s likeable unless you taste it, right? 😛

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hehe okay. You’ll love the food here – or if not, turn to Burger Project. Magkatabi lang sila and you can do the same thing we did – order from either menu regardless where you’re seated.

      Reply

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