Filipino food has rarely been branded as healthy. From bulalo to sinigang and pinakbet to laing, the country’s most popular dishes are typically filled with unctuous flavor—and fat. A hip new eatery aims to offer the same comforting flavors sans the guilt and that inconvenient, heavy feeling that often kicks in post-meal.

Berde recently opened its doors in Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati, to cater to a discerning crowd that’s been hankering for an alternative to the usual lunch fare of fast, nutrient-deficient value meals. Founders Ryan Daniels, Timothy Kong, and siblings Jaime and Paloma Urquijo Zobel de Ayala sought to fill that gap in a market saturated with foreign franchises and mediocre provisions. Their solution? Wholesome, nutritious, all-in bowls featuring well-loved local dishes.

There are five signature bowls, each completed with a Pinoy protein, a tasty vegetable-based side, a base of good-for-you carbs, and a slew of toppings and sauces that deliver extra punch. Anyone craving for a hearty option to fuel the rest of the day won’t be dismayed with The Manok-Out (P280), chicken inasal paired with malunggay-coconut pumpkin mash and calamansi-red onion pickle, or the Baboy Oh Boy (P280), pork karnitas with calamansi-singkamas slaw and cucumber-dill pickle. For lighter options, there is the Mushroom Monggo Kare-kare (P250) that comes with vegetarian gising-gising, and The Bangka (P310), featuring an excellent catch-of-the-day fish kinilaw and ensaladang talong. And what is a Filipino-fueled restaurant without adobo? You’ll find it here made with shredded beef in the Baka Bowl (P350). You can enjoy your bowl in store—downed with their refreshing Blueko or Minty Melon libations—or have it delivered straight to your office desk.

The Bangka

The Manok-Out

If there’s no one item on the ready-to-eat menu that tickles your fancy, you have the option of building your own bowl. Imagine the endless possibilities: Choosing a base of rice, salad mix, or half of both; picking from the signature proteins; rounding it out with veggies (the coconut pandan cream corn is a must); and finishing it off with pickles, crispy and crunchy toppings, and their homemade sauces.

The fun part doesn’t end there. You also get to watch your food being prepared in front of you and ask the staff about every ingredient that goes into your bowl. Berde prides itself on searching for the best food purveyors and suppliers from all over the archipelago: Its chicken comes from a free-range farm in Batangas; rice varieties of Tinawon and Minaangan are sourced from a co-op in the Cordilleras; and other produce are delivered from various organic farms specializing in a particular fruit and vegetable. This way, you know that you’re only getting the best in every heaping spoonful. What’s not to love? Filipino food has never been this tasty, colorful, and nutritious.

Photographs courtesy of Berde

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