'Arama' is the Sanskrit word for garden, and as the name suggests, ArAma Cafe in Serendra offers in abundance healthy eating options in a garden themed setting. Natural, healthy, wholesome --- these are some things ArAma promises, being an establishment that is proudly organic by choice.
According to Gina Yambot, this barely one year old restaurant aims to be a catalyst for healthy eating, by serving natural, organically-grown and nutritious food: safe to eat, and delicious as well.
ArAma is owned by the same team behind Chocolate de Batirol, which used to be in the exact location where ArAma is currently. If you walk too fast, you might miss the restaurant with its little signages, just right beside A Different Bookstore.
By one wall of the cafe, one will notice a shelf of thirty mugs with signatures. Gina explains that each mug represents a shareholder of the establishment, and whenever they come by ArAma, they use those mugs for their teas and coffees as a little perk. Some of the mugs placed on top of the shelf are signed by celebrities and loyal patrons, with little messages written for the cafe.
With the garden setting, one will note the greens and browns of the cafe, that mimic being outdoors. I actually thought it looked more like a cute little treehouse, with its curved staircase leading to a tiny loft decorated with a lot of green around it. ArAma has a cozy and relaxed atmosphere, a little breather from other congested establishments nearby.
Kefir is the healthy ingredient in their dips and dressings, Gina explains, as it boosts one's immune system, and is gentle to the lactose intolerant tummies. Also, the oils they use are olive, palm and sunflower; they make their own pastas from scratch, and they never use canned sauces. Coffee is organic, coming from Baguio, while their tea is caffeine free from Cordillera.
For beverages, ArAma has five kinds of Supertonics, tonic mixes that are tailor-fit for specific health needs. For example, you can give your digestive system a boost in the morning with Breakfast Blaster (P134), or bid those nasty hangovers goodbye with their Morning After (P134) detoxifying tonic. For that day, I opted to keep my drink simple and just had a glass of Organic Lemongrass Iced Tea (P84). It has a stronger lemongrass flavor with just a touch of sweetness to it.
Organic Lemongrass Iced Tea
Cassava Chips in Probiotic Dip (P122) is ArAma's healthier take on the classic Mexican chips and dip. The chips are thinly sliced, not oily at all, and are lightly powdered with cheese. The dip has a sweet blend without being too cloying, and I imagine it to pair well, too, with carrot and celery sticks.
Cassava Chips in Probiotic Dip
If you haven't been introduced to unpolished, organic rice before, a good way to have it is paired with breakfast food. Red rice has a grainier, rougher texture that will compliment fried foods like bangus, tapa, longganisa and tocino -- all breakfast staples. If you want it the ArAma way, you can choose among their All Day Breakfast (P188) items. Each meal is served with red rice, fried or salted egg, fresh vegetables, and a choice of herb tea or brewed coffee.
Skinless Tuna Longganisa
Gina recommended for us to try out the Skinless Tuna Longganisa (P188), their breakfast item that was served to us with a sunny side up egg. The tuna version is obviously healthier than its original pork counterpart, being leaner and smoother, void of the usual chunks of fat. It had a mix of salty and sweet, and none of the lansa, fishy aftertaste that I was expecting. One serving has two finger-like pieces of the longganisa, making this a light breakfast meal, not the very filling kind.
A good value for money is ArAma's Pasta Set Meal (P280), which also serves as a primer, since it gives you a little bit of everything to taste if you're dining at ArAma for the first time. For this set meal, you get a pasta of your choice, vegetable soup, organic garden salad, fresh herb tea, and frozen yogurt.
Pasta Set Meal
The bowl of Garden Salad was good to eat after finishing the light Spinach Potato Soup, while sipping the cup of Organic Mint Tea.
Spinach Potato Soup
Organic Mint Tea
The mixed greens, carrots, beets, radish, cucumbers, tomatoes and boiled egg is made more appealing to my palate with their with Probiotic Dressing, which is actually the same stuff as the previously mentioned probiotic kefir dip. The tarty and milky yogurt-Yakult taste of the dressing may seem strange to the ears, but it is very much agreeable to the palate. I couldn't help drizzling more and more of the dressing to give the veggies a shiny and thick coating. It adding digestive benefits to the salad is a plus. A regular serving of the Garden Salad is P228, with soup and fresh herb tea.
The three large pieces of Spinach Ravioli were very fresh and light to eat. The pasta is stuffed with spinach and tofu that gives it an interesting combination of textures, and is served with tomato sauce with pesto. A regular order of the Spinach Ravioli has five pieces and costs P264, inclusive of soup, wheat bread and herb tea.
To end our meal, we had a tiny serving of mango frozen yogurt that came with our set meal. Their Real Frozen Yogurt is homemade, made with the same healthy kefi goodness, and looks more like a sorbet to me than your common fro-yo. Nevertheless, this hand-mixed dessert is excellent in taste, with some chunks of mango still intact and just lovely to have on a hot afternoon. A regular serving of their frozen yogurt costs P95, and comes in five scoops.
Real Frozen Yogurt
Whether you're organic by choice like them or would want to try out healthier alternatives to dining out without sacrificing taste, ArAma can offer you a culinary journey to wellness. Perhaps a visit here could reconnect you to more natural flavors, and jumpstart your habit of eating well.
Prices are exclusice of 10% service charge