It’s so hard to find decent fake meat! In Europe being a vegetarian is almost a fashion, not so much in the Philippines. It’s not an uncommon conversation when eating out and you ask the waiter “is there meat in this?” and for the waiter to reply “no ma’am, only chicken” or sometimes “no ma’am, only ground pork”! Or to ask “What on your menu is vegetarian please?” and for your waiter to reply “this dish ma’am, it’s fish”. Sometimes it’s just easier to cook your own food at home but also, at times, it can get boring just eating vegetables and sauces, sometimes it’s nice to add something a little different.
To that end, I must tell you about an awesome, hidden away, veggie meat supermarket! Quan Yin Chay. Sounds Chinese right? So that gives a clue as to where this place is and why it’s so hard to find. Most people assume (myself included) that to find veggie meat, you look in the big supermarkets or in the rich areas of the Philippines. That would be wrong, for this little place is hidden away down a side street of China town, not far from the main immigration building, it’s a great little time waster whilst waiting for visas.
Before I get to how amazing the selection of veggie meat is, I should explain how to get there. From immigration, you take a tricycle for P70 to “Ogpin street” China town. It’s a special trip and it’s about 10 minutes so that’s why it’s a little more expensive than you’d normally pay for a tricycle journey. You ask the driver to drop you off at the front of “Café France”. Yes, there is a Café France, in the middle of China Town, in the Philippines! When you get to Café France, walk over a little bridge, when you get to the second street you pass, turn left there. Walk straight down there for a couple of minutes and there, ahead of you, is this tiny gem.
Inside, it’s half restaurant, half supermarket. I’ve never eaten in the restaurant as I’ve always been rushing to get back to immigration once I’ve bought my stock of veggie meat. However, it might be worth a try as it does look pretty good. It’s the supermarket part that is the exciting part though. It has everything, veggie bacon, veggie goose (awesome!), veggie chicken, veggie fish, veggie tuna in a can, veggie sausages and so much more, I’ve just listed the stuff I normally get. It’s not the cheapest but given how difficult it is to find decent veggie meat and how good this stuff is, it’s totally worth it. For a block of veggie bacon it’s about P200. Might sound like a lot, but it’s really worth it. If you buy a lot, they also give you discount. They also sell things like veggie barbeque sauce, veggie oyster sauce and veggie meatloaf in a can.
This place is a hidden gem in the most unlikely place. I am seriously thankful to my friend Amie who showed me this place and to the nice people in Café France who helped me find it again the second time I went. If you’re veggie and in the Philippines, it is the best place I’ve found in all my searching to buy quality veggie meat to cook at home. I’ll post some recipies soon about some of the yummy things you can make using this stuff :)
Full Address: Quan Yin Chay, 821 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila, Phils.
It is near to: Dia Eng Chay.
Contact number of them: (02) 24303356