Friday, October 29, 2010

No Worries Restaurant offers Vegan Filipino Cuisine in the Bay Area

by @mrfredbriones
The Bay Area is well known for its counter cultures. From it's music, clothing, lifestyle and even food. So why not open a vegan Filipino restaurant. That's exactly what Chef Jay-Ar Isagani Pugao did, in the downtown Oakland. His restaurant, rightly named No Worries Filipino Vegan Cuisine is the newest addition to the growing Bay Area Filipino Restaurant boom. It may also be the only vegan restaurant in the country serving Filipino food but I haven't confirmed that yet.

A Change in Lifestyle for Me
A few months ago my Dr. told me that I could possibly have diabetes based on some test results. That made me re-think my entire lifestyle and has forced me to watch what I eat and make better choices. No bad carbs, especially white rice and breads. Literally no sugar, instead I look for alternative sweeteners like agave nectar and occasionally Splenda. Before that, I had no idea what the Glycemic Index was or how it affected my health. Well, it was scary to see that Pandesal was one of the highest culprits on the chart along with most ingredients that make up my favorite Filipino desserts.

So I was very excited that a Filipino restaurant offering a healthier alternative was opening in the Bay Area. I was fortunate enough to make it to the soft opening event in September. The Restaurant has a different vibe to it, definitely different from any other Filipino establishment that I have ever been to. But, that's what it is...different. While we were waiting, a waiter passed around a few samples of their vegan lumpia which was delicious.
A large selection of Filipino Classics
We finally were seated and I couldn't wait to order. The menu was pretty extensive and it took a while before we could even decide. So we opted for the fried shrimp and lumpia for starters. The fried shrimp is a soy shrimp marinated in lemon juice and soy sauce, covered in eggless batter, then deep fried to a crispy golden brown. We let our our daughter be the taste tester and she literally ate the whole plate. When I think of artificial foods, I think of artificial crab meat from sushi bars. The shrimp here was far from that rubbery texture and taste that you often get from imitation crab meat. This really tasted and felt like shrimp! The lumpia was again delicious but this time I noticed the seasoned soy ground beef. Very nice touch.
Vegan Fried Shrimp
Vegan Lumpia
 For our main course, we went with the Chicken Adobo, Kare-Kare and the Bistek. Now, I can truly say that I am an adobo expert, having competed in Throwdowns and competitions in the past. So the expectations were pretty high for the vegan version. The bistek came out first and we immediately  began to eat...after FOODSPOTTING of course! The tofu had a ton of flavor and the veggies had the crispness that I look for. Many times bistek is over cooked and under seasoned but the No Worries counterpart was far from that.
Vegan Bistek
 Next came the Kare-Kare and the Adobo courses. I have always been used to having my kare-kare with oxtail and using a fair share of shrimp paste. You know, I really didn't mind the vegan version nor did I need to add the bagaoong for flavoring. The same went for the adobo which had bold flavors and great texture.
Vegan Kare-Kare
Vegan Adobo
 No Worries Filipino Vegan Cuisine breaks the mold of what is considered traditional. It focuses on flavor and provides a healthier alternative for diners. I really appreciate that...and my body appreciates that! I do have to say that in the 30 days that of dieting and a change in my lifestyle, the dr. has been given a clean bill of health and all signs of diabetes are gone. All without meds or any treatments. I'm in better shape and healthier than ever, thanks to healthier eating and miles of running. And now, with the help of restaurants like No Worries, I can keep enjoying my favorite type of food...without NO WORRIES. I will definitely be back for more.

Read more about No Worries and Chef Jay-Ar Isagani Pugao in an article from Eastbay Express
Restaurant info:
1442 Franklin Street
Oakland, Ca 94612
(510) 444-4466
Monday - Friday:
Lunch: 11am - 3pm
Dinner: 5pm - 9pm


No Worries on Urbanspoon

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