Review: Palayok Restaurant in Muscat

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I’ve never really thought of Filipino food as being vegan-friendly.  In the field of nursing, the Philippines has heavy representation across the globe.  When I worked in a nursing home, my Filipino co-workers would bring treats to help us brave through the red-eye night shifts.  Sweet buns and pork were symbolic of their cuisine in my mind for a very long time but now, thanks to our honorary Filipino amigo, we’ve discovered a whole new cuisine for us to enjoy.

First, let’s talk about the restaurant.

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A simple dining room with wooden furniture, tasteful lighting fixtures, and traditional Filipino crafts created a very serene environment.  On each wall we saw unique wooden carvings and metalwork, most of which seemed to originate from the homeland.  Lil’ Z was quite captivated by the large screen TV and androgynous characters imitating Michael Jackson, competing on game shows, and singing soulful serenades.  The Filipino music playing over the television was annoying but not too distracting.  After our host translated the menu and answered our inquiries, we ordered a table full of vegan-modified dishes to suit our palate.

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From R-L: Zizzling Tofu, Vegetable Chop Suey, and Garlic Fried Rice

All of our dishes were fresh and unique in flavor.  No two sauces tasted alike.  The flavours had a very Chinese base but with a whole lot more soul to spice them up.

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Vegetable Kare Kare

This dish of vegetables simmering in peanut sauce took a while to reach our table but was well worth the wait.  We practically licked the bowl empty and piled on more rice just to add the Kare Kare sauce long after the veggies–okra, eggplant, green beans, etc.–were devoured.

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Halo Halo

Most of the desserts contained dairy and eggs, so the only one we tried was Halo Halo, which had a base of shaved ice, coconut shreds, dried fruits, and cooked beans.  After rolling off the scoop of strawberry ice cream and corn flakes sprinkled atop for garnish, we dove into the puzzling combination of delights that somehow worked well together in their own strange way.  I loved the coconut pulp, Lil’ Z loved the dried cherries, and Urbndervish loved the little beans that worked their way into the mélange.

All in all, it was a great meal to be shared with great friends of ours.  While the cost wasn’t cheap, it was a worthwhile indulgence.  To find Palayok in Muscat, head towards Ruwi on the Sultan Qaboos Highway.  After passing the exit for Boushar/Al Ghobrah, head to the far right lane and look for the Shell gas station and McDonald’s.  Turn in to the gas station and you’ll find Palayok right behind it.  If you passed the exit for Al Khuwair, you’ve gone too far.

Note:  Prepare to pay in cash since debit and credit cards are not accepted.

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