(SPOT.ph) We all have rituals. We have morning rituals, evening rituals, rituals with special groups of people, rituals for when we’re just by ourselves. I like watching movies by myself, and when I watch a film at Greenbelt 3, part of my ritual involves buying movie snacks at Chimara, a mostly plant-based, eat-and-go counter where I get a meal composed of a kani with wasabi aioli wrap, tofu chips, and iced tea, plus a bag of their sinus-clearing wasabi popcorn. This comforting combo has accompanied me through many movies. It’s not a restaurant that I think of right away, but it’s one that I always find myself at because I like the food, and because it’s part of my ritual.
Chimara has opened a branch at UP Town Center. They’ve also tweaked their menu, focusing on four main proteins: chicken, faux beef, tuna, and tofu served four different ways—as a wrap, in a salad, on rice, and with pasta. According to Marketing Director Brian Tanchangco, everything on the menu is designed to make you feel good. And so far, it has delivered.
Pepper Maple Chicken Wrap
The Pepper Maple Chicken Wrap (P220/wrap; P230/salad)—maple-marinated grilled chicken, apple, raisins, cucumber, carrots, sunflower seeds, and lettuce with pepper maple vinaigrette—is light and just enough to fill the stomach comfortably. The chicken is tender and the vegetables crunchy, the vinaigrette a lovely sweet glaze that coats everything. The salad inside it is tossed before being packed into the wrap. There’s more sauce on the side, for people like me who believe that you can never have too much dressing. I don’t like raisins, but I’m sure they add something to the mix that I, the raisin philistine that I am, am not privy to. The wraps come with a small bag of popcorn, making it excellent movie food.
Tuna Wasabi Aioli Salad
The Tuna Wasabi Aioli Salad (P220/wrap; P230/salad) is, alas, to my dismay, the new version of my beloved kani with wasabi aioli, which is being phased out. It has tuna flakes, fresh mango, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, peanuts, lettuce, with wasabi aioli, and is still delicious, though obviously not the same. First timers might be surprised by the electric green dressing, but if you’re a fan of wasabi and mayo like I unashamedly am, this dressing is for you.
Tofu Cheese Pesto Pasta
I’m not usually a fan of pesto but the Tofu Cheese Pesto Pasta (P170/panini, P180/rice, P180/pasta) definitely hits the spot. The pesto is umami-packed—strange, but not unwelcome. The tofu, topped with cheese, fools you into thinking that you are getting slabs of cheese with your pasta, which is a good thing because cheese.
Tuna Pomodoro Panini
The Spicy Tuna Pomodoro Panini (P180/panini, P190/rice, P190/pasta)—chunky tomatoes and spicy tuna sandwich served on a bed of popcorn—tastes like those microwavable pizza bars that were popular in the early 2000s. It was oddly nostalgic.
Faux Beef Salpicao Rice
But the Faux Beef Salpicao Rice. You really must try the Faux Beef Salpicao Rice. The Faux Beef Salpicao Rice (P170/panini, P180/rice, P180/pasta) is specially marinated faux beef and garlic aioli sauce topped with garlic, the whole thing served on brown rice. Like its name says, it’s not real beef, but you won’t care. Hans, the photographer, a hardcore meat eater, absolutely fell in love with the dish, saying, “This tastes like something my lola would make.”
Soup of the Day
Tanchangco says people have mistaken this dish for lengua. Paired with the Soup of the Day (P80), in our case it was onion, the broth thick with onion bits, warm and comforting, it made for excellent rainy day fare.
I Am Strong
Chimera’s also upped their drinks game, serving fresh juices with names and fruit/veg combinations to make you feel better. For example, we got a carafe of I Am Strong (P80/cup, P150/carafe), a delicious apple, beetroot, and carrot mix, the perfect antidote if you’re feeling under the weather.
I’m looking forward to when the new menu hits the Makati branch later this year, even if it means losing my beloved kani wrap forever. That faux beef is worth it.
Photos by Hans Fausto