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Sugarleaf: Not So Sweet After All

There seems to be no shortage of healthy dining options in Manila these days. With two branches under its belt (Makati and San Juan), Sugarleaf is another resto that promises “foods that nourish”. No crispy fried pork and chicken skin here sadly. Nevertheless, it was time to take the taste buds out for a run with my “healthy eater” friends Marie and Mona.

You can find Sugarleaf in Medicare building along Paseo de Roxas. The first floor is a tiny mart that sells organic products that range from food, condiments and beauty items. 

The resto is on the second floor. You’ll pass all these goodies on your way up.

Cozy place

Unfortunately, we had to go on a day when the AC was broken. The three of us were melting and had to ask for an electric fan to face our table. 

The menu looked pretty promising with choices of pasta, salads, sandwiches, shakes and desserts. There’s also this nice offer of Eat All You Can organic salads for P400. But would you believe they didn’t have any lettuce that day? What is a healthy restaurant without any salads?? My friend Marie is vegan and actually came just to try this out so you can imagine her look of dismay when the waitress sheepishly told us there were no greens at all.

"Okay, I’ll have the Soup of the Day instead," Mars said, "The vegan option please." 

"Ma’am, there’s no vegan option available", replied our waitress, while we all exchanged looks as the menu clearly stated that there should have been one. 

"Fine, I’ll just have the vegetarian sandwich", Marie sighed. 

Here was her sandwich (P148) with a side of gluten-free baked soy chips. The chips were okay, the sandwich forgettable. 

I got myself the Vegetable Quiche (P150) which I enjoyed. It was a rather large and hearty slice of spinach and cheese which was quite filling and actually comparable to the one Starbucks sells (or used to sell, I haven’t seen it lately). My only complaint was that the center of the quiche was still cold so I had to send it back to the kitchen. 

I also got a plate of their Vegetarian Wraps (P148) to share, which consisted of organic greens, sprouts and avocado drizzled with Goody Kefir dressing. Again, I liked this and made me want to attempt replicating the sauce at home. The tortilla used here was soft wheat, however, a better option would have been to use real whole grain tortillas which are darker in color. Light colored wheat products (bread, tortilla, etc) aren’t actually made up of pure whole wheat. So it’s almost like eating white bread that’s been combined with some wheat, a fact that I only found out recently. 

Mona got herself a Multigrain Oat milkshake (P150) out of curiosity. We had a feeling it was going to taste like cold oatmeal which it did—and very sweet at that! We asked the waitress what they used to sweeten it and she replied with, “washed sugar”, which is a form of raw sugar that has had a large reduction of molasses removed from its coating. It’s definitely better than regular white sugar but again, wasn’t this supposed to be a healthy restaurant? Besides, the menu said they use coconut sugar! What was going on here??

Mona’s Turkey Waldorf sandwich (P208): turkey, red apple, celery, toasted cashew with kefir-nutmeg-homemade mayo in a raisin cinnamon bagel. She said this tasted okay. She originally wanted the chicken sandwich but—you guessed it—it wasn’t available!

Probably the only positive note about our lunch (apart from the food I ordered), was the vegan ice cream sold downstairs (about P50 a cup I think). This one below reminded me of buko ice cream!

Sugarleaf does a good job of educating its customers on the benefits of healthy eating and what particular products they should be consuming for a better body.  The menu and website provide all these useful information, making one think that the chef must be some sort of health nut or organic expert. However, the restaurant failed to deliver on their promises. (I mean really, no salads??) Call it a bad day at the kitchen, a misinformed waitress who gave us the wrong information, or simply a lack of understanding of what they’re supposed to be so knowledgeable about. Whatever it was, it’s sad to say that our little trip here wasn’t worth it. I left with two unimpressed friends, one of them still starved. 

Personally, I would go back for the veggie quiche alone, but then again, if Starbucks still serves it, then perhaps I’d be better off there instead.

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