Vegan's Chronicles + [travel]

ADO in Manila: Bonifacio High Street, Health, Fitness & Relaxation

On our second day in Manila, we spent the afternoon checking out Bonifacio High Street, which is an outdoor shopping area. I really liked this part of the city because it was so spacious and open, and there were also a lot of outdoor sports stores, cafes, and home furnishing shops.

For lunch, we dined at Red Kimono, a Filipino chain restaurant serving "modern Japanese cuisine." They had a big selection of vegetarian and vegan options, which put a huge smile on my face. We ordered a handful of different dishes to share, and every single one of them was supermegadelicious and full of comforting Asian flavors. The beautiful presentation of each plate made me feel like I was at an upscale gourmet restaurant, but with very reasonable prices.

The 'Vegetarian Sushi Special': Rice rolls topped with a salad of mushrooms, mango, radish, and carrots. Doesn't it look so festive? This was really fresh with clean flavors. It was especially yummy dipped in soy sauce and wasabi.

miso soup

'Tofu Steak' with asparagus and shiitake mushrooms. Yummy.

'Veggy Teppanaki': chunks of spicy "mock chicken" served on a sizzling plate of assorted vegetables.

Layered Spinach & Tofu with sweet miso paste. This was my absolute favorite dish. It was so flavorful, and that miso sauce was finger-lickin' good!

Here's my first plate with a little bit of everything. Oh yea, and we ordered rice on the side too. This was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip, and I would absolutely go back to Red Kimono to try everything else on their vegetarian menu.

After filling our bellies, we browsed around the shops on Bonifacio High Street, while soaking in some sunshine.

There was also a big bookstore called 'Fully Booked' (love the name), where I finally got my hands on 'Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life' by Brendan Brazier. I'd read so many reviews for this book by other bloggers, I was excited to check it out for myself. I've also been curious about the benefits of eating raw foods, and maintaining energy before, during, and after my runs, so this was right up my alley.

After spending a good amount of time browsing through the bookstore for good beach-reading material, we just chilled for a few hours at Seattle's Best Coffee shop, reading, sipping on caffeine, and doing word search puzzles. What a great afternoon~ Funny how I started reading 'Thrive' while eating cookies and drinking some coffee. Hm, caffeine and refined white sugar... two foods the author would disapprove of. hehe.

But at least the cookies were vegan~ I bought them at the Legazpi Market the day before, and they were indeed crrrispy. :)

So, let's talk about 'Thrive' for a sec. This book was actually a really fast read. I had planned on enjoying it while I was laying on the beach in Boracay, but I was so absorbed in it that I finished it with still half of my vacation to go! It was really interesting and it gave me a new perspective on health and nutrition. I appreciated the fact that he doesn't necessarily promote a 100% raw diet, but that he just encourages people to incorporate more raw foods into their meals. And I agree that I should eat more healthier grains (less glutinous white rice!) and also more good fats like nuts and avocados. Unfortunately, there are many ingredients he recommends that are difficult, if not impossible, to find in Korea, like hemp seeds/protein powder, chia seeds, coconut meat, amaranth... but the book provided a good general guideline for how to get the most nutritional bang out of every snack and meal, and how to eat for physical fitness. One tiny issue that I had with 'Thrive' was that I felt that the author was speaking solely from his own personal experience, and it was a little difficult to relate to my own life, since he's a hardcore professional Ironman athlete. But overall, it was a great, informative read, and I'm excited to try out some of his recipes.

So anyway, even though coffee and refined white flour chocolate cookies are not part of the Thrive diet, fresh fruits are. So here are some of the fruits I got to enjoy in Manila:

My all-time favorite fruit: mangoes!!!

My second favorite fruit: papaya~

I also tried three new fruits for the first time in my life. First up, mangosteen. This is one of Yunseo's fave fruits, and she insisted that I love them too. They were indeed amazing! So sweet, adorable, and juicy.

Each night, we had a little midnight fruit pig-out session while watching SNL and the Discovery Chanel. haha.

Another new fruit I bought was Santol (aka, 'wild mangosteen'). I had no idea what it was or how to eat it, but I was so curious that I gave it a try.

The inside was separated into soft, fuzzy, wedge-like sections that tasted pretty sweet. The thick skin on the other hand, was sour and almost bitter. Yunseo and Chris didn't enjoy it so much, but I thought it was pretty good and practically ate it all myself.

Lastly, dragon fruit (aka 'pitayas'). I had never seen or heard of this fruit before, and I was so enamored by it's curious shape and intense pink, scaly shell that I had to buy one. This fruit is exotic in every way, and I totally understand why it's called 'dragon fruit'- it truly belongs in some imaginary fantasy land (Pandora?). The hot pink skin is contrasted by bright white flesh, dotted with black seeds! Unbelievable. Taste-wise, it was refreshing, mildly sour yet sweet too, kinda like a cross between a kiwi and a soft pear.

With so much spectacular fruit on our hands, we decided to create a tropical salad of mangoes, guavas, papaya, and dragon fruit. One fruit salad to rule them all.

Speaking of health, can you believe that I was able to fit in three early morning runs during my 1 week vacation? I thought I would be lucky if I even got one run in, but I was able to get up early and go running twice in Makati and once in Boracay. The first morning, I actually got Chris and Yunseo out running with me too! hehe. We ran through and around Ayala Triangle Park, which was a nice little patch of greenery in the middle of the financial district. I didn't take my camera with me, so I don't have any pics of the park, but it was cute.

And right after each run, I jumped into this pool on the rooftop of Chris' apartment building. It was the perfect way to cool down after hitting the pavement in the hot sun.

Oh yea, and after our day at Bonicafio High Street, we all went to a spa and got full-body massages! My very first real massage, everrr~! Yunseo got a Swedish massage, while Chris and I chose the Shiatsu massage, which was AH-mazing. The masseuse applied firm pressure to certain points all over the body to get rid of all the tension and stress... ahhhh~ And it was so affordable too- 400 pesos (about 10,000 won / $9) for one hour of relaxation. It was a great first massage experience, especially at the very end when she did this crazy ninja move where she suspended my entire body in the air, with her underneath. lol. Aside from that surprise finale, it was a very relaxing hour and I think I even dozed off at one point...

Sigh~ that was the life~