When you ask the owner of a restaurant how they started out in the food business, you might expect to hear about a love for cooking and perhaps a long time dream of putting up a place to share this love with others.
What you might not expect to hear are stories of teaching inmates Yoga at the New Bilibid Prison.
Unless you’re talking about Edgy Veggy, the once delivery-only vegetarian food service that just opened its first restaurant in emerging foodie haunt Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig.
Welcome to Edgy Veggy
“I was doing volunteer work teaching yoga in New Bilibid Prison (as a RockEd volunteer) and I thought of serving them vegetarian food, to complete the whole detox yoga experience,” recalls Denise Celdran, owner of Edgy Veggy.
The warden decided against the idea, thinking that it might be read as preferential treatment for a group of inmates, but it was too late. Denise had bought all the ingredients already. “I was left with 20 kilos of Japanese tofu steak and Chinese, Italian tofu steak! What was I going to do with all of that?”
“So I texted my friends and asked them if they were interested in buying tofu steak meals and I would just deliver it to their house,” said Denise.
Much to her surprise, her meals sold out. And people began asking for more.
“I realized that there was a market for vegetarian food,” said Denise. The realization surprised her because as a vegetarian herself, she long came to the discovery that “if you don’t learn how to cook for yourself, you will starve.”
Denise learned that the “market” she had discovered was very diverse.
“There are those who wanted vegetarian food at home but they didn’t want to cook it because their kitchens were already cooking food for their kids and their husbands. There are some who now have to eat more healthy because of health reasons. And then, there are the seasonal vegetarians who want to lose a bit of weight before summer – bikini season,” Denise explains.
Inside the restaurant
“There were also those who wanted to eat virtuously to make “bawi”. Like they went on a trip and binged so now they feel guilty and need to eat clean and healthy after.”
As her market expanded, so did her business. “It was like a business that wouldn’t die,” she laughs.
From starting out in her home and sometimes even delivering the meals herself, Denise contracted a delivery service; from having a Sunday stall in the Legaspi Market, she has now opened her very first Edgy Veggy restaurant.
Edgy Veggy's open kitchen
Now, vegetarians of all reasons and all seasons can enjoy Denise’s dishes Monday to Saturday. Here are some of the all-time favorites, some new dishes and surprise, surprise, even dessert!
Mushroom dumplings: 6 dumplings, P165
“It’s probably the only thing that is deep-fried here, but hey, you have got to live a little!” says Denise.
Deep-fried, but like everything else in Edgy Veggy, it promises to be whole, healthy delicious vegetarian food.
The dumplings are a mix of mushrooms, herbs and crumbled tofu tossed in with chives and chopped cabbage. Since she uses absolutely no seasoning, the mix is flavored with crushed herbs and sea salt.
Kikkoman, vinegar and some ginger make for the dipping sauce.
Bulgogi rice meal
Rice meals: Korean spicy bibimbap rice, tofu mushroom bulgogi for P220
The tofu mushroom bulgogi is made from miso, sesame oil, sesame seeds and the shreds of seaweed. It is flavored using soy sauce and sesame oil, as well as other herbs and spices that Denise collects and brings home from her travels. Edgy Veggy uses no artificial seasoning or MSG in their food.
“I get my sumac from Turkey and Egypt. It has an almost lemony flavor that I used for the falafels. I gets spices from India like cumin and fennel,” says Denise. “I think it’s [use of herbs and spices] why people can say, “masarap pala” when they try our vegetarian food.”
Recently, she has been able to find local suppliers who ship in these herbs and spices.
The kimchi rice is seasoned with chili powder, kimchi and a little miso with spring beans, carrots and cabbage.
Cashew cheese panizza (vegan), P250
The thinly rolled out dough of the panizza signals the way that it is to be eaten and enjoyed. Edgy Veggy serves three cheese panizza, mushroom and pesto panizza and cashew cheese panizza. Panizza also comes in a version made with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and capers.
Made from whole wheat, you sprinkle arugula and alfafa sprouts and roll it like a cigar. If you want a bit of a kick, sprinkle it with chili oil.
The dough, which is also gluten-free, is lined with pesto and cashew cheese and then topped with mushrooms.
“The cheese is made from cashew. It’s good for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, but looking for a creamy, cheesy substance in their panizza,” says Denise.
Panini, made with artisanal ciabatta bread and served with root chips and side salad for P220
In picture, mushroom burger with caramelized onions. Also available, spinach and mushroom tapenade panini.
Choose your condiments:
Vegan condiments: tofu feta, pesto
Vegetarian: ailoi (egg), feta or cheddar cheese (dairy)
The bread for Edgy Veggy’s Panini is made by the Village Baker who uses only
unbleached flour and extra virgin olive oil to make his bread. “They make everything from scratch, like we do,” says Denise who says that the vegetarian food market is now thriving because of a growing network suppliers who also make their products from scratch.
“Everything takes long [to make],” says Denise. “But that is where the prana, our life force energy from the sun is preserved. Unprocessed food has the highest energy, the most prana and because of this, it is least cancerous.”
This mushroom burger uses oatmeal instead of egg as binders, is mixed in with onions. Diners have the option to make it a “cheese tofu burger version” by adding tofu feta cheese or cheddar cheese.
It is served with colorful root chips: kamote, potato and blue potato which is as Denise explains, “An heirloom vegetable. Before genetically processed potatotes, this is what potatoes looked like.”
Ice cream: vegan ice cream, P120 per scoop.
Yes! There is such a thing as vegan ice cream. It is made with soy milk, coconut milk and coco sugar and is absolutely delicious.
Sourced from Marie Gonzales from Kitchen Revolution, the vegan ice cream flavors available at Edgy Veggy are:
- Peanut butter
- Vanilla cacao nib (nib is the part of the cacao inside the bean and it has the highest antioxidant properties
- Ginger snap batter (which tastes a bit tangy and well, gingery)
- Black sesame
- Rum walnut
- Salted caramel
“It’s becoming a lifestyle,” says Denise of vegetarian eating. “It makes you feel good [when you eat it] and it takes good so you don’t tired of it.”
Vegetarian food is not a fad. It’s a becoming a way of life.
Denise also makes customized detox menus for those with special dietary needs. For P1,000 a day, you will be served three meals, including a smoothie and a snack. For customized detox meals, call Denise Celdran at 0917-820-2081.