Eating Out on a Plant-Based Diet in Apo Andoy’s Filipino Heritage Cuisine Davao

Mai and Arlady in front of Balai Belen Travellers Lodge where Apo Andoy’s Filipino Heritage Cuisine is located

It has been almost seven weeks since I made the transition to a more plant-based diet. In that time, I have not eaten beef and pork, have slowly weaned myself from eating chicken, and now working towards cutting down on the occasional fish or seafood that I still eat. Making the switch was not as hard as I imagined it would be. Although it has its moments like when I have to eat out and struggle with the limited dining options available. This happened to me again recently when I met up with two former workmates — Mai who was visiting from Japan and Arlady who also lives in Davao. It was Arlady who suggested that we have dinner at Apo Andoy’s Filipino Heritage Cuisine which is near where Mai was staying.

It was the first time that I heard about Apo Andoy’s. Not surprising, really, since I do not go out much. I quickly agreed to meet there because I thought it best to have dinner with Mai in a place where she can enjoy Filipino food. But at the back of my mind, I was wondering if there is something oil-free, and plant-based I could eat there. Davao is mostly a meat-centric city, at least from my point of view, with so many grill restaurants. And most vegetable dishes are mixed with beef, pork, chicken, fish, and other seafood or flavored with fish sauce. Still, I was excited to visit the place primarily to see Mai and Arlady again and also to try whatever plant-based dish I can find there.

A Homey Feeling

The first thing I saw when I took the stairs to get to the restaurant

I arrived at Apo Andoy’s around past 6:00 pm. The restaurant is in Balai Belen Travellers Lodge located inside a village in Dacudao. It was still fairly early for dinner so there was only a couple of guests when I came in. The place was quiet but I noticed that a long table has already been reserved. It seemed like it was going to be a busy evening for the restaurant.

The couple left and I waited alone in the empty room enjoying the quiet and homey feeling. A large group came in after a few minutes. There were only two empty tables left (each table seats 4). The restaurant staff quickly connected both remaining tables and approached me to ask if they can get one of the chairs since I told them earlier that there are only three of us. I said yes and the new group was seated and immediately placed their orders. I was still alone at that time so I could not order yet, something that I would regret later in the evening.

A Meat-Lover’s Paradise

I would have probably enjoyed the food at Apo Andoy’s if I had not gone plant-based. Mai and Arlady ordered the beef tapa (which was purportedly President Duterte’s favorite food to eat there), lengua which was served with mashed potatoes, and the Vigan longganisa. Sadly, most of the dishes were meat-based and cooked in oil. There was only one salad option for me — and even that had salted egg and dilis (anchovies).

The Long Wait

It took almost an hour before our orders got served. I think this was because the first big group to arrive immediately placed theirs as soon as they were seated. And the largest group that made the reservation already started trickling in by the time we started ordering. So we waited a long time for our food. My salad came last — right after all of Mai and Arlady’s orders were served. And it was nothing like I expected it would be. It consisted mostly of cucumbers, small cubes of salted egg whites (where was the yolk?), lots of anchovies, and very small amount of one type of lettuce which I hardly noticed. It was really salty. To be fair, the rest of the food on the table looked scrumptious. And both of my friends seemed to have enjoyed them. Mai said the lengua was really good.

Great time with friends

I was still hungry by the time I finished what for me has been a disappointing meal. But I did not have much expectation going in because I knew from the getgo that it was not a veg-friendly restaurant in the first place. The goal was to let Mai enjoy some Filipino dishes for dinner. And the food looked delicious even if I did not get to taste them except for that salad that I swear I will not eat again.

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