Sometimes, I look at my dog and think he eats better than I do.
Two years ago, I met and fell in love with the sweetest little stray puppy my friend Jericho had accidentally let into his home one night (he was completely sloshed and mistook the wee thing for a plastic bag flying about – turns out this plastic bag had legs). He was thin, sickly, and needed minor surgery, and for most of the first couple of months he was always in and out of the veterinary clinic for one reason or another.
Other than going under the knife twice, the little guy also went through a severe case of flea-bite anemia and the poor thing would just collapse under his own weight and lose control of his bladder. He was under various drugs and even steroids for a while, and his breath smelled metallic, which I found out later was actually caused by internal bleeding. He refused to eat most types of dog food, and although I’m not a fan of the chemical-laden Pedigree anyway, he was starting to look more like a cat than a puppy and I was desperate.
What did work for the puppy with the wiggly tail? A lot of roasted chicken (sans the skin!), which thankfully is sold on every corner in this country. And organic sawdust that I’d buy from The Green Grocer that I’d mix in with chopped vegetables and chicken liver, and cook with a touch of organic virgin coconut oil.
Since then, my furbaby has gotten a lot better, although he still is prone to sickness a lot more than your regular pet dog. Cooking for him can also be a tiresome task, and keeping a stock of five kilos of organic sawdust (the minimum order at The Green Grocer) can be a pain in the butt with my tiny fridge. Being my dog’s personal chef, I was excited when I found out Chef Giannina Gonzales put up Whole Pet Kitchen: Pet Deli & Bark-ery, a deli that specifically caters to our four-legged friends with a few treats for their human companions, too.
Chef Giannina also happened to be the mentor of my friend, Kat, so off we went one Saturday to check out the cafe that’s meant for pets first, pet owners second.
Everyone, meet Mr. Wiggles Fluffybottom. He had lost some weight and was recovering fr om a stomach ulcer, so we thought we’d treat him to the Whole Pet Kitchen for being such a good dog and not hiding when we give him his medication. He’s still a bit underweight in the picture, but he’s a happy little chap, and I was relieved to see he had gotten his appetite back.
The pet deli is open to both dogs and cats and is located on the narrow P. Guevarra street in San Juan. Parking will be a bitch, and Kat, who used to study at the culinary school nearby, suggests you keep a close eye on your car as the area does have a few unsavory characters lurking about at night. We went in the afternoon for lunch, so our car was pretty safe.
Parched from the long ride over – and from constantly telling Wiggy off for trying to trample me to get to the window – Jericho got himself a Citrus Cooler (Php 78) – a citrusy juice with sliced cucumbers and I think a hint of mint – while I opted for a sweet Chocklit Milkshake (Php 108). I love the cute glass jars that they came in! My milkshake tasted like a slushy chocolate drink, which was just what I needed before tucking into lunch. But first I needed to help Wiggy dig into his lunch.
Every dish you order for your pet is served on a wooden tray with a water bowl. The presentation is brilliant! By the looks of it, my fluffball was pretty thirsty from the trip there, too!
I got Mr. Wiggles a Jack’s Lasagna (Php 78), which looked like the real deal sans the tomato sauce. The doggie lasagna is made with semolina lasagna sheets, virgin coconut oil, pork liver, beef, carrots, some homemade yogurt, swamp cabbage, basil, and cheese. Its fairly easy to cut the lasagna lasagna up into little pieces and before I could even put it back down on the tray, Wiggy was happily scarfing everything down. I think the portion size was good enough for a medium-sized dog -any bigger than that and you may want to double your order.
While Mr. Wiggles happily feasted on his lasagna, I ordered Chef Gianinna’s Lalalasagna (Php 248) – the cheesy one meant for human consumption. The little cheese bone on top was such an adorable detail! Made with bolognese meat sauce, spinach, white sauce, and lots of melty cheese, this was nice and oh-so-cheesy, filling you up nicely, although I do wish the portions would be a smidgen bigger.
The Porkballs & Pickles Sammie (Php 248) is Chef Giannina’s take on the Vietnamese bahn mi. You have the nicely seasoned herbed porkballs, the sour pickles, fresh cilantro, and what I think is a chicken pâté on a crunchy, crunchy, crunchy baguette. And if you aren ‘t sold on that, check out the super cute ketchup paw print on the side!
Kat’s Yorkshire Terrier, Muffin, feasted on the Grain-free Veggie N Beef Balls (Php 78) made with sweet potato, beef, carrots, green beans, malunggay, VCO, and turmeric. The usually picky little lady are everything so fast, I don’t even think she chewed her food at all. On the way home we were joking around on whether or not it would still look the same on its way out as she just practically swallowed the little balls on their way in.
I was so happy that the Japanese Spitz had an appetite and was eating a lot that I bought a bag of Liver Muffins (Php 180/dozen) for dessert along with a bowl of Yogurt & Carob Cooler which I thought would be such a treat on this hot day. He took a few laps of the drink, but didn’t really take to it as much as he did the liver muffins. Feeding him a couple and breaking them up into bite-sized pieces for him, he looked pretty chuffed with all the food, and the rest I took home to save for another day.
I also couldn’t help but feed a few muffins to the super sweet Mr. Jack, Giannina’s Golden Retriever. I loved petting him and hugging him, until I realized Mr. Wiggles was giving him the stink eye and got all bark-crazy, protecting me from the cutest intruder ever. Wiggy really doesn’t like sharing me with other dogs, and I found out being overly territorial is normal with the Spitz breed.
While my dog enjoyed his muffins for dessert, I got this Bone-y Eclair (Php 108)! For a little over Php 100, you really get your money’s worth with this as it was pretty big! Three eclairs melded into one, the cream-filled choux pastry was spot on and just what I was looking for before gearing up for the long ride back home.
If you’re the type of pet owner that treats their furbabies like they would their children, you will appreciate the special place that is the Whole Pet Kitchen is. The dogs had no problem chowing down on the organic food, and the people food is pretty darn good, too. Mr. Wiggles is finally done with refusing to eat anything but chicken and has started to like the Origen brand now, which is probably as organic as dog food gets, but I will definitely make it a point to bring him back to the pet deli every now and then for more creative doggie meals and treats. They also sell the cutest pupcakes and pawcakes for your pet’s special occasions that can be pre-ordered.
The Whole Pet Kitchen: Pet Deli & Bark-ery is located at 349-D C. M. Recto Street corner P. Guevarra St., San Juan, San Juan del Monte and are open daily between the hours of 10am – 6pm. For inquiries and pre-orders, please call +63 2 357 2753.