My latest advocacy is to make healthy food look cool. In Manila, we don’t appreciate healthy restaurants so much because of the perceived bland or mild taste of vegetarian/healthy dishes. There was only one vegetarian hole-in-the-wall restaurant in UP that was full of flavor because the kitchen was run by a Kapampangan but, sadly, it closed down.
Thankfully, we did find another healthy alternative. But before I share about it, let me introduce you first to kefir…
The Kefir Culture
“There are two types of kefir: water kefir – small transparent grains that ferment sweetened water;and milk kefir – white or cream coloured grains that look rather like cauliflower florets that ferment milk.”
“Kefir is a living culture, a complex symbiosis of more than 30 microflora that form grains or cauliflower-like structures (sometimes called plants) in the milk. As the culture ferments the milk these structures grow, creating new grains in the process. Real kefir from live culture is an endlessly self-propagating process.”
Arama is probably the only restaurant in Manila that serves Kefir-based goodies. Despite the fact that it’s
a struggling store in Serendra, it still decided to offer mostly organic dishes in its menu.
Arama used to be the Manila branch of Chocolate de Batirol in Baguio. They turned it into a garden restaurant. I don’t like the uncomfortable tables and chairs, though. A veteran vegetarian cook runs the kitchen, so expect healthy organic dishes, which are good for those with special dietary requirements.
You can choose to eat on the second floor for privacy but the tables there are leftovers from Arama’s Chocolate de Batirol days. You would have to stoop down to eat with such a low table. The acoustics of the restaurant are also lousy — you can hear the people below and vice versa.
Despite those, I like to hang out in Arama because the Wifi is FREE and not a lot of people go there. Before, I would go to Kape Isla. But ever since it turned into Echo Store, I don’t go there anymore. Arama is now the Blogger’s choice in Serendra.
Pasta Set Meal (P280)
We usually order the set meals. My favorite is the Pasta Set Meal.
Soup and fresh herb tea from Cordillera are served, good for one person. For most people, the serving portions might be a little bitin.
The Organic Garden Salad is served with a Kefir-based sauce. The sauce is light and yummy. You won’t feel guilty when putting more sauce into your salad. Arama makes its own sauce, so you can order a bottle for your salads at home.
(I think lactose-intolerant people can take the milk-based kefir sauce.)
The Spinach-Ravioli is composed of spinach tofu-stuffed pasta with your choice of white sauce or fresh tomato sauce. The pasta set meal serves the half size of the Spinach Ravioli Ala Carte version. The serving size is enough to get you 80% full only.
The best part of the meal is the Frozen Kefir (mango-flavored in this case), which tastes like Frozen Yogurt (sometimes even better, depending on the flavor). Arama and David of Froyo had a “falling out”, so he removed his Froyo Cart in Arama. A Chinese friend of the Arama owners gave them a Kefir culture and they started to experiment with different Kefir concoctions.
Kefir is super healthy. It has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. It contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and, especially, enzymes!
Strawberry Frozen Kefir
Try the Vanilla Frozen Kefir first, which has a consistency similar to frozen yogurt but with a more tangy taste. The fruit-based Frozen Kefir has a consistency like shaved ice. It feels like eating sorbet rather than ice cream. I would also recommend the Choco-Berry Frozen Kefir for kids. 🙂
The other organic dishes are just OK. Don’t expect too much in terms of taste. I highly recommend the set meals.