plant-based food

It’s crunch time! Get a bucket of plant-based ‘fried chicken’ from this Quezon City shop

Steph Arnaldo
It’s crunch time! Get a bucket of plant-based ‘fried chicken’ from this Quezon City shop

ELPI's Facebook page

It tastes like chicken – but it's not! This crunchy, meat-free delicacy is even served with gravy.

MANILA, Philippines – What if we told you that you could still enjoy the crunch of fried chicken, sans the meat? Vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based enthusiasts, you can get a bucket of Vegan Fried Chick’un made by local biz ELPI Vellychon Haus!

Quezon City shop ELPI Vellychon Haus makes plant-based fried chicken with only 100% plant-based ingredients – no eggs, meat, or dairy here. Yet, their absence is hardly noticeable once you bite into a piece of this boneless, vegan fried chicken – the initial crunch is unmistakable! Inside the golden-brown skin you’ll find a bit of soft dough in between the breading and “meat,” which is soy bean protein that’s shredded to mimic the sometimes stringy texture of chicken meat (although note that the “meat” is chewier). The crisp breading and plant-based “meat” themselves are seasoned well – nothing is too salty – with the former made with bread crumbs, herbs, and spices.

One piece of chicken is enough for one filling meal, since it’s pretty hefty in size. To tone down the savory umay of the chicken, ELPI’s housemade gravy is a good partner – it tastes like regular mushroom gravy with hints of sweetness and spice. It’s made with the simple Filipino pantry ingredients of coconut oil, water, cornstartch, soy sauce, salt, brown sugar, and black pepper. Dip the chicken into the gravy, and you might also also be hankering for an extra cup of rice. Don’t worry about the guilt – this healthier alternative to fried chicken has no cholesterol and is rich in plant-based proteins!

According to owner Elpi, people have even accused him of being a “scam,” because they couldn’t believe that everything was plant-based. “We don’t use any ingredients coming from animals, but people can still enjoy the taste and texture of the regular fried chicken and gravy,” Elpi told Rappler.

It took a lot of trial-and-error to get the texture right, though – Elpi said that he first tried firm tofu as the base, but it did not achieve that level of taste and texture that he aspired for. The switch to concentrated soy bean protein as the main ingredients was the key factor to ELPI’s success.

“It’s not magic, it’s just simple chemistry. When you know the properties of each ingredient, you can always find an alternative to it,” he said.

A bucket of ELPI’s Vegan Chick’un costs P630 for 10 pieces. Once delivered, the chicken is best eaten within an hour from cooking to enjoy maximum crispiness. To make it crispy again, ELPI suggests to re-fry them using oil, bake them in the oven, or fry them for five minutes in the air fryer.

ELPI’s newest dish just launched in April, at a time when the country was experiencing a shortage of chicken due to avian flu virus. “It was a good timing because our fellow ‘ELPInoys’ are still searching for healthier alternatives to chicken meat without the fear of contracting the virus,” Elpi said.

Elpi isn’t a professional chef, but he calls himself a plant-based lifestyle advocate and healthcare professional, as a registered nurse. Elpi believes that anyone can create healthier and greener versions of their favorite Pinoy meals, even without any formal training in culinary schools.

“If I can cook delicious plant-based meals, surely, you can too. I encourage everyone to eat less meat (or ditch it out), and consume more greens. I want to prove that it is still possible to eat sustainably, healthy, and happy even without the meat,” he said.

ELPI Vellychon Haus is also known for a viral plant-based lechon belly launched in early 2021. His vegan version features a “deadly” pork slab with crunchy skin in a reddish-brown hue, and a layer of chewy “fat” beneath. The two slabs are tied together by butcher’s strings. According to Elpi, that creation also came out at a time where pork meat was scarce, due to a swine flu virus outbreak. Luckily, both of his meat-free alternatives turned out “very saleable and in demand.”

ELPI Vellychon Haus is open from Mondays to Fridays, from 10 am to 5 pm. The hub is located at 3 Guerrero Corner Capillan Street, Quezon City. You can place your orders via Facebook. – Rappler.com

Order yummy and healthy meals with this GrabFood voucher.

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.