New Restaurant Alert: Happy Garden Cafe at Jupiter Street, Makati
The folks behind Bizu take healthy living up a notch.
Happy Garden Cafe
Sunshine Place, 56 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Village, Makati City
Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Jupiter Street is a known foodie destination, but move past the busy bars and bustling staples, and you just might stumble onto this happy little garden.
Happy Garden Cafe, which replaces Kitchen 56, is the latest project under the Bizu Groupe. It's a reflection of the owners' love for fresh food and Bizu CEO and founder Annabel Tangco's gluten-intolerance. Bizu cakes, pastries, and cookies make a cameo behind a glass display, but make no mistake. Happy Garden Cafe is all about healthy, flavorful organic food.
The space resembles an indoor garden
You can shop for flowers while waiting for your order.
White walls, flowers, and greenery complement its clean-living philosphy, and stepping inside the restaurant feels like escaping to an exquisite garden in the middle of the city. It doesn't help that there are plush sofas and cozy lounge chairs. Cleary, the Bizu Groupe knows how to make you want to stay for a healthy meal.
Flower Salad with Carrot Dressing
Four kinds of local kale and the hummus-like tahini dressing with chunks of squash and chickpea round out this salad platter (P455).
Chef Oliver Gascon of C2 Classic Cuisine is responsible for Happy Garden's picture-perfect plates. If you want to get a measure of what their menu is about, you need to get the Flower Salad with Carrot Dressing (P425). Fruits and nuts pepper salad greens, while edible flowers give it that floral edge. It comes with a thick dip that's designed to be healthier than the usual salad dressing.
The Prawn Cake and Soft Shell Crab (P335) balances out the golden-fried, crisp exteriors with the meats’ luscious interiors, making the appetizer an easy favorite.
Their Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho is all the proof that you need that opposites do attract.
The Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho (P125) is a sweet cooler against the tropics. The chunky quality of this zesty cold soup makes it feel wonderfully homemade. Watermelon replaces croutons, and, with the brightness of the heirloom tomatoes, you'll be licking this refreshing bowl clean in no time.
Korean Beef Stew (P525) and Pampano Shitake Capers (P485) with cauliflower rice
The most fashionable health dish of the moment has to be cauliflower rice, so, of course it's on the menu. Instead of grains, you get finely chopped cauliflower, sauteed to precise firmness. Chef Oliver cooks it for a shorter period to maintain the nutrients in the vegetable. Happy Garden is one of the few places where rice feels, well, almost needless.
Chorizo and Egg Pizza (P795)
Truffle Mushroom Pizza
Even their homemade pizzas take a healthier detour. They use Italian Caputo flour, a very fine powder-like variation that's free from additives. It's best demonstrated in the Truffle Mushroom Pizza (P645). Happy Garden uses truffle paste (instead of oil), which is already a validation that this pizza doesn't hold anything back, except bad calories. The truffle flavor is more distinct, balanced by the honey glaze.
Conchiglie and Shrimps in Tarragon Butter
Happy Garden opts for a more straightforward approach, using fewer but effective ingredients. The Conchiglie and Shrimps in Tarragon Butter (P345) layers only a thin veil of butter to the pasta. The Pancit Palabok (P315), on the other hand, stays true to its Pinoy roots. The thick rice noodles are drenched in textbook sauce and rewarded with toppings. The recipe is from Ms. Annabel's family cookbook and has been handed down through generations.
We're all aware of the fact that Bizu is a maven when it comes to sugar-free desserts. Happy Garden, however, takes it up a notch with gluten-free offerings. The Sansrival (P195/slice), the Carrot Cake (P245/slice), the Chocolate Moist Cake (P225/slice) are all extremely satisfying. The latter is particularly decadent, the rich chocolate melting in your mouth and caressing your palate.
You know what would go well with that cake? The Happy Coffee (P685). It's a small glass that makes for a good splurge. A blend of Venchi chocolate Cuban rhum coupled with espresso will give you just the right kick. Or, have your pick from their freshly blended juices in flavors like Red (P195), Orange (P225), Yellow (P175), and Green (P185). Each small pitcher of the juices comes with an even smaller shot glass. Bottoms up and drink to a healthy life.
Photos by Hans Fausto