Episode 31: Feeding the body and soul at Oh My Gulay!

If there was one restaurant in Baguio that I regret not being able to appreciate early, it’s Oh My Gulay! (OMG!). Sure, I pass by it from time to time to have coffee, but I’ve never dined there. That was because my idea of a pastime other than having coffee was a heavy meal over beer and cigarettes. Hey, I was young.

Oh My Gulay! (OMG!) is a vegetarian restaurant at the fifth floor of the La Azotea Building along Upper Session Road. The place is owned by Baguio artist Kidlat Tahimik, and has been a favorite spot for artists, writers, and coffee lovers looking for a quiet place to hang out.

OMG! commands a great view of the city from the back of La Azotea. The restaurant also shares the floor with an exhibit area and arts center. Upon entering the area, one can marvel at the garden-like ambience, the tropical greenery, the wooden bridges and the pond, the wooden hut, the stage with its sculptures, and the curiosities that occupy every nook and cranny. Come to think of it, Baguio’s art scene is active, which is why such places flourish here.
In our recent visit to Baguio, MC and I decided to eat something light for brunch. The most sensible choice at the moment was Oh My Gulay! (OMG!). We were going to eat light, after all… or so we thought.
First on the table was the Chow-Chow Noodles, egg noodles served with vegetables sautéed with garlic and flavored with spicy soy sauce and hoisin.
Along with it was a plate of Anak ng Putanesca, pasta topped with sautéed garlic, capers and olives, and enriched with pomodoro cheese and spices.
On the side was Talong Parmigiana, deep-fried eggplant set on a crisp baguette and topped with basil oil and special sauce.
Not far behind was the OMG Sandwich, the vegetarian version of the club sandwich with tomates, crisp cucumber, and egg, and served with a green salad.
We finally had crepes for dessert.  There were two varieties that we tried – the Super Sosy (peaches and cream) and Mansanas (caramelized apples), both light with a blend of sweet and fruity. It was only then that we began to feel stuffed.
OMG! does justice to Baguio’s reputation as a source of fresh vegetables and fruits. One can be sure the food is hot, freshly-cooked, and made from the freshest ingredients. The best part is that it offers vegetarian cuisine – exactly what health-conscious people need.
It’s nice that the whole area houses paintings and other artworks by other local artists. One can walk around and appreciate the artworks, or sit quietly and let the words flow from your head to your notepad or laptop.
Now here’s a thought: Going vegetarian is a difficult feat. Seriously, eating vegetables is great. It cleanses the body, aids in weight loss, keeps us healthy, etc. It’s the stuff we hear from our parents when we’re coaxed into eating vegetables.
The problem is that we’re too used to eating meat. Most of us consume a lot of pork, beef, and/or chicken all our lives, and nothing else. Thus, we fail to realize the importance of eating a balanced meal, and we pay for that when we grow older. I did.
Vegetarian cuisine isn’t as difficult to digest as we thought. Of course we do have vege-meat, tofu, and all those alternatives to meat, but apparently, nothing beats eating vegetables. It’s good that there are restaurants that serve vegetarian and other healthy cuisines.
It also helps to know that being healthy is a state of mind. Where you dine and what your senses ingest can influence what you eat. A person surrounded with beautiful things and sounds is assured to have a relaxed, stress-free mind fed with inspiration instead of junk.
And that’s what OMG! is all about – nourishing the body with good, healthy food, and feeding the mind and soul. Bonus points for enjoying all these in Baguio, a city that’s nostalgic and romantic and inspiring… Okay, I‘m trailing off.