Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Agico : Japanese Vegetarian Cafe in San Juan

Let's admit it. Upon hearing the word vegetarian what comes to mind are veggies...lots of it. More often than not, the thought of eating veggies doesn't really equate to the same feeling as indulging on a plate of juicy perfectly grilled steak or even a basket of fried chicken. Yes, that's my carnivorous self talking. While I grew up learning how to eat my veggies, I still consider myself a very picky veggie eater. For one thing, it was only recently that I learned to appreciate eating bitter gourd (ampalaya). Sadly though, I still can't get myself to like the taste of eggplant (not unless it's cooked as an omelet or is part of a moussaka), okra, peas, carrots and sayote and I honestly think it will take a lifetime to do so.

That said, I can't imagine living life with no meat. This is also the reason why I have such high regards and respect for all the vegetarians out there. I admire their dedication and self-control.  Paul and I tried abstaining from beef for 6 months and while I'm proud to say that I went through it without cheating, I got to admit it was really hard! Most especially when a good slab of Angus belly was sitting pretty right under my nose. I almost cried in weakness but I stuck to our deal nonetheless.Next time we abstain again, I now know where to go.

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Last Friday, my family and I visited a new restaurant called Agico for dinner. It's pretty cool that we get to go out more often now as a family as Papa seems to be turning into a foodie as well. Yay! Agico joins one of the many new food establishments in San Juan City as it opened on Paul's birthday -- September 26, 2012! It's located within the residential part of town yet there are a number of directional signages leading to the restaurant and you'll surely won't miss the brightly-lit signage as you get to Araullo street.

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I love the cute cartoon mural on the wall! It has a couple of characters that speaks the benefits of vegetarian eating. Low cholesterol! Stronger immune system! They obviously won my Mommy's heart!

We're pretty used to vegetarian restaurants that serve Chinese or Indian dishes. However, this is the first time for us to try Japanese vegetarian dishes. It makes sense though as a lot of local diners, like us, love Japanese food. Let me share with you what we had that evening:

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Gyoza Dumplings (Php. 158)
One order gives you five medium-sized pieces and believe me it was pretty good! It's filled with chopped mushrooms and despite being pan-fried, the gyoza has remained juicy inside and crunchy outside. In fact, this beats a number of gyozas that I've tried lately!


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Takoyaki (Php. 158)
I got to admit, this doesn't look very much like the authentic Takoyaki but I still urge you to take a bite. We all loved this very much! The delicious filling, the Japanese mayonnaise on top, it makes one great appetizer and I'm definitely going back for more.

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Crispy California Maki (Php. 238)
Once again, what's a visit to a Japanese restaurant without having some sushi? They actually have the usual fare but we opted to go with the specially created hand-roll ones. My family loves California Maki and we all enjoyed this one despite the absence of kani sticks. Instead they included tiny strips of cucumber, carrots, mangoes and radish which I surprisingly enjoyed as I wasn't able to taste the carrots here. We love the crunchy topping which I suspect could be tempura-style veggies too.

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Philadelphia Torch Maki (Php. 238)
Our second plate of sushi is perfect for all cheese lovers out there. Unfortunately, I was the only one who's addicted to cheese in the family so it was only I who ate this with gusto. My Mom found it too rich but I appreciated the generous serving of toasted Philadelphia cream cheese that covered our sushi that's filled with cucumber, yellow radish and tamago. The torching ceremony gave a good touch to the whole experience too.

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Fresh Shiitake Stick (Php. 176)
Mommy was curious about the grilled items on the menu and upon getting the recommendation of the owner, we tried the Fresh Shiitake Stick. One stick comes with three pieces of mushrooms. It's a bit pricey but the flavor was just so full and strong making it pretty yummy. Next time though, I'm trying the Enoki Bacon as I'm curious how they'll be able to achieve the mouthwatering flavor of bacon.

We had three rice bowls which we shared among the five of us. Note that the serving was pretty big making it good for sharing.

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Beef Yakiniku (Php. 268)
My Papa loves beef and as I ordered the Beef Yakiniku praying that this won't disappoint him. All rice bowls were served in a clay pot keeping it warm for a longer period of time. I tried this rice dish and was surprised at how flavorful it was. For a while there, I forgot that it wasn't real beef. In fact, the "beef" was very tender and the flavor was very meaty. I love the sticky rice which is exactly how Japanese rice should be.

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Katsudon (Php. 246)
I guess frequent readers are not surprise to learn that I got a bowl of Katsudon as well. I have a long standing love affair with Katsudon and this has always been my must-try every time I visit a Japanese restaurant. We loved the thin strips of veggie pork which tastes very much like real katsu. We couldn't help but nod in approval in every bite.

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Chicken Teriyakidon (Php. 246)
Among all the rice bowls, this one was our least favorite. While the vegan meat was good, it tasted nothing like chicken. In fact, the flavor was closer to that of a hotdog or sausage. It definitely still needs more improvement in achieving the authentic Chicken Teriyaki flavor.

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Seafood Fried Rice (Php. 75)
This wasn't so bad yet not quite exciting. It would definitely go well with the side dishes or grill items on the menu.

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Agico also offers a wide-range of drinks such as coffee, tea, Italian sodas and fresh juices. Mommy and Pan tried the Goji Berry Juice (Php. 100) which is said to be high in anti-oxidant and is said to be a preventive fruit for cancer. It's also good for diabetes and high blood pressure patients. Agico can customize your drink as what they did to both Mommy and Pan. Mommy wanted her juice hot while Pan prefers hers icy-cold. they did as requested and both were equally pleased.

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I, on the other hand, tried the Cucumber and Apple Juice (Php. 130). The flavor was very mild and I liked the fact that it wasn't too sweet. This is a very refreshing drink to enjoy with your meal.

My family truly enjoyed our dinner at Agico as we all felt so light and healthy after our meal. No bloated feeling, no guilt too. We will definitely be back and we can't wait to bring Amah here as she abstains from beef and this time, she'll be able to do so without breaking life-long sacrifice.

map agico
How to get there: From Wilson, turn left at P. Guevarra (landmark would be Mini Stop), go straight until you see the traffic light. Go straight down towards Luna Mencias and turn right at Araullo street (you'll see Keys School). Go straight and after one block, you'll immediately see Agico. Enjoy!

Agico is located at 83 Araullo street, San Juan City. Call them at 705-1997.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! The Gyoza and Yakiniku looks delicious! I am craving Gyozaaa!

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  2. Hey! I also went to this place! Glad to see your reviews on some of the other products on the menu. I mostly ordered burgers (they were amazing, you should check them out here: http://samthingtodo.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/agico-vegetarian-cafe/)

    Do you happen to have commuting directions to this place?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sam! Unfortunately I'm not quite familiar with the commuting directions but I do know that there's a jeep going up and down wilson street.

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