The Z Compound in Teachers' Village: A Chronicle of Good Food and Lost Jologs-ness

Culture shock was the last thing I expected to be face-to-face with as I commuted all the way from Region 3 to the food haven that is Teachers' Village. Coming from UP Diliman myself, I was surprised to find out that so many things have changed: from the sudden boom of food establishments all over the village, to the new type of crowd that has invaded it. Not that I used to own the place, but you know what I mean.


I’ve read so many articles about how UP culture has changed over the last few years, but they all describe the campus scene—how the students donning shorts and slippers to class are now gone, or how parking space has become inadequate. I didn’t realize I would witness this “change” in the dining set-up.

Back then, only a few defaults come to mind whenever we are craving for something cheap but delicious: Lutong Bahay in Area 2 (that canteen that serves Pinoy dishes, humongous servings of rice, and overflowing fruit shakes), Ate Fe’s (the place to get our lechon kawali fix) and Beach House near the university library (the BBQ place that recently closed down but would reopen in a new location). In KNL, any of the diners and cafes lined up along the tricycle route never disappointed us. In Maginhawa Street, there were pricier places that offer something beyond the usual “student food”—like Sancho (Spanish) and Friuli (Italian).

Before I graduated 5 years back, there were about 20-30 restaurants there. Now, they have multiplied to what? Like, a hundred?! There’s a neon signboard everywhere you look at—katsu places, Mediterranean diners, burger joints, dessert shops! Name it, Teachers' Village has it.

One of the hottest spots there now is The Zone Compound in Malingap Street—a garage-cum-food-hub populated by small restaurants, food-court style. Or more accurately, somewhat similar to the Ketchup Food Community in Baguio. Diners can order from any of the restaurants in The Z Compound and sit anywhere they like. Get some pork belly from Bagneto and sit on Burger Hub’s area while sipping on their shake, they wouldn’t mind.

I loved the fact that each restaurant has its own specialty: grab some shawarma from Meshwe, siopaos from Lucky Noodles and Dimsum House, or some carbonara (PhP140) from The Backyard Reservoir, then down them with some fresh juices from Healthbreak as you wish. And at really affordable prices too!

One resto in particular grabbed my attention first: Me Love You Long Time—a diner serving Vietnamese and Thai dishes. They had Basil Ice Cream on their menu, but when they told me it wasn’t available, I destroyed some furniture.

I settled with a Banh Mi (PhP99), which was delicious, but whose lack of grilled chicken made me anxious of poultry shortage. In addition, there was so much cilantro stalks in my sandwich that I wanted to order extra garden shears.

There’s a place called Stoners which serves what seemed like a shot at approachable Southwestern food. The Buttermilk Chicken is pretty decent, nicely seasoned albeit not too crispy as I would’ve liked, but the bold attempt at riding the food fad is certainly commendable. I loved the camote chips that came with it.

The Buffalo Wings were insanely hot, but the accompanying sauce was runny and … meh. However, if you love spicy food, I would definitely recommend that you get this. The Meatballs, which were stuffed with extra cheese, could use a different kind of sauce, not just gravy.

OK. Now, on to the whole atmosphere…

While my friend and I scanned each resto for dishes we liked, I was surprised to find some people looking at us. Wait, not just “looking”. Scanning us from head to toe. I could recall one particular girl in total bitch mode, complete with a raised eyebrow. It made me wonder about three things:

(1) “Did I look messy and dirty and unwelcome?”
(2) “Were my friend’s shorts ummm, extremely, disgustingly, scandalously short?” and
(3) “What’s your problem, bitch?”

No, that's not Ms. Bitchy. But really guys, is it your first time to see shorts like these?!?!
So I decided to look around, and I wondered, where were the UP students? These didn’t look like UP students. The Isko and Iska I knew back then were never this fashionable, never this irritable, and never looked at people from head to toe. In fact, the people I knew didn’t even bother with each other: we used to sing loudly in beer places (read: Sarah’s) and dance Samba inside coffee shops, and people DIDN’T STARE. Now, all we did was walk—and check menus—and people were staring (not in a "checking-you-out" manner, I tell you)!

Food lovers unite... not sneer at each other's outfits. LOL
It made me wonder further: why was this girl raising an eyebrow at us and looking at us from head to toe when all that she was having was a 60-peso fruit shake?!

Oh well… (sighing deeply, regaining composure)

In general, the Z Compound is a nice little hangout place, with a casual vibe, food sold at really wallet-friendly prices (some even serving booze), and stalls that are quirky and unique. I found it ideal for some serious food-tripping, since you can sample different cuisines all in one go; expect “close-to-the-real-thing” flavors. The food is good—not too remarkable and haunting to the point that it would me make me want to go there despite long distances, but good enough to revisit if ever I am in QC. If I do return, I'll definitely try more of The Backyard's food, and partake in Meshwe's falafel and come back for that Basil Ice Cream.

Teachers' Village has indeed grown into a bustling dining destination, even surpassing the number of choices in Kapitolyo. I am incredibly curious to explore more of it, but I am steeling myself for more surprises.


~*~
The Zone Compound
33A Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village, Quezon City
+63.927.691.5283
Budget: around PhP200/head


Have you been to the “Z”? Any particular dishes worth trying and going back for? Is Meshwe’s falafel any good? Please leave a comment!

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2 comments :

  1. Great post Pepe! Nice pictures too. Love the one of the banh mi with the overgrown cilantro stalks. :)

    Quick question, Stoners is that counter space directly opposite from Bagneto? It wasn't open yet the last time we were there. Gotta try that soon...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yup, the one across Bagneto! :) They were still on soft opening when I went there. Items around PhP100-150. Try their chicken and let me know what you think! Haha!


    Thanks for dropping by! :)

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Let me know what you think!