This Zobel de Ayala Scion Has Built the Carinderia of Our Dreams
Looking for a quick, tasty, and healthy meal in the middle of Makati’s CBD for lunch can be quite a letdown. Usually, a restaurant can only cater to two-thirds of the criteria—quick and tasty but not healthy, or totally healthy and quick but not so palatable. Enter Berde, a game-changer in the power-lunch scene ticks all three.
The seemingly plain restaurant in Ayala Triangle Gardens is actually a no-frills haven for power bowls. “We thought it was time that Manila had more fast, healthy, and delicious food options,” shares co-owner Jaime Urquijo Zobel De Ayala (yes, of that Zobel de Ayala family). “We were tired of not having quick and convenient meals that are good for you.” Joining him in this pursuit are Ryan Daniels and Timothy King, who also saw the need to cater to the market’s hankering. “Berde was made for Filipino consumers who want to start asking more questions about their food. Filipinos are slowly becoming more health and environmentally conscious consumers so we wanted to create a menu that was transparent.”
Timothy King and Ryan Daniels
What sets Berde apart even further is their concept fashioned out of the ubiquitous carinderia. “The food is actually made fresh in store every day. This means that the food is already ready when a client walks in, so they can either take it to go or enjoy it right away in store,” adds Jaime. And just like any carinderia, the food here hits close to home: They serve Filipino dishes, which the three agree to be among the best cuisines in the world.
Kare-kare, chicken inasal, and adobo all find place on the menu—except they’re transformed into healthier, good-for-you versions. There are five signature bowls to choose from: The kare-kare is made with mushrooms and monggo and comes with a side of vegetarian gising-gising and calamansi-red onion pickle; the inasal is served atop red rice and malunggay-coconut pumpkin mash; and the adobo is made with lean beef and accentuated by a calamansi-singkamas slaw.
Pork lovers need, there is also the signature Baboy Oh Boy bowl: pork karnitas, calamansi-singkamas slaw, cucumber and dill pickle, crispy garlic, and green sauce. A sure bet among the five is The Bangka bowl, composed of catch-of-the-day fish kinilaw, ensaladang talong, calamansi-red onion pickle, pomelo slices, and green sauce.
Mushroom Monggo Kare Kare
Baboy Oh Boy
If there’s no one signature bowl that tickles your fancy, you can always make your own. Start by choosing a base—white rice, red rice, salad mix, or a combo of both rice and salad. Pick your protein (same as the signatures), pair it with a veggie (the coconut pandan cream corn is ace!), and choose a topping (pickles, fresh fruits and veggies, and sauces). There are hundreds of possibilities with all the options laid out in front of you, just as in a carinderia.
Two beverages are available to round out your meal: The Blueko is buko juice with a blue tint provided by blue ternate flowers, while the Minty Melon takes on the essence of calamansi. Just before you head to the counter, make sure to order a bag of saba chips, too. The freshly made sweet-salty chips are crisp outside and perfectly tender inside. Actually, one order is not enough.
“We wanted to make sure that our food was also beneficial for the environment. We go to great lengths to find our food providers and want to make sure our customers know as much about the food we are preparing for them as possible,” Jaime adds.
This translates to a chalkboard list of Filipino farms and the ingredients sourced from them. Included here are: Domingo Perma Farms for papaya and romaine lettuce, Rice Terraces Farm Co-op for Tinawon white rice and Mina-angan red rice, and Earth Beat Farms for arugula and bokchoy, among others. Knowing where every ingredient on your bowl came from is an extra service rarely offered anywhere else in Manila.
A Berde bowl isn’t just another healthy mishmash of colors, flavors, and textures. It is actually an ode to the Filipino traditions of cooking tasty food and serving it with warmth and passion. Jaime shares, “We want to showcase this incredible cuisine in a modern setting.” Who knew that was possible through lunch bowls?
Berde is at Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City.