January 8, 2011

Van Gogh is Bipolar

            Experience food euphoria in the comfy and idyllic Van Gogh is Bipolar. A Gastrognome favorite!


Van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night, 1889. The Starry Night is a permanent piece in the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.
            Why the odd name? Jetro Rafael, the owner of Van Gogh, is bipolar; and Van Gogh is a famous personality known to have such. But what is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a type of mood disorder that causes major disruptions in lifestyle and health. It is characterized by occasional highs and lows and extreme mood swings. It is called Bipolar because the mood can alternate between two completely opposite poles: euphoric happiness and extreme sadness.

The concept behind Van Gogh is to serve all natural and authentic "happy-hormone-producing" foods, to trigger the release of happy hormones in the body.

THE Van Gogh Experience.

            I was looking for restaurants which have a wide variation of tea, that’s when I’ve heard of Van Gogh is Bipolar. So on a Thursday night, L and I decided to just impulsively drop by the restaurant, even though we’re not really sure where the exact location is.

Driving along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City at around 20kph, alas, we found Van Gogh. The restaurant is located within the premises of an apartment-type building and entrance to the compound is nestled between Crave Burger and a Laundry Shop.

A sign posted on the door says, “Welcome, Please remove your shoes”. It’s always nice to find something different, just like this one.

            The restaurant is small and intimate and can only accommodate up to 10 persons inside but the interior is creative and looks awesome in low light. Upon entering, the first thing you’ll notice is the small round table full of teapots. On second look, there’s a lot to be said on the interior, pretty much all good stuff.

            For one, every wall has its own concept. The one nearest our table is a freedom wall painted in red. Add to that is a mannequin, wearing an apron designed with what looks like Michelangelo’s David.

Another is the kiss-mark wall.

Plus a wall projecting a clock. Really amazing. Beaded curtains on one wall, looks personalized since it has glass bottles, teapots and dolls in it.

Enough of the different wall concepts. Let’s talk about the house rules. Yes, you’ve read that right. Van Gogh is Bipolar has its own rules.

            For first time visitors (like us), things seem a bit complicated but the house rules are part of the overwhelming experience.

House Rules:
1.      Indoors are reserved for 10 diners only.
2.      Please enjoy your tea outdoors to accommodate other diners.
3.      NO SERVERS HERE. If you need anything, please ring the bell by the kitchen window.
4.      Write your name & orders on paper provided.
5.      For tea drinkers = Read instruction on ‘How to make your own tea’.
6.      After eating, kindly place soiled dishes by the kitchen window.
7.      To pay, please ring the bell. Celebrate your SHIT life on the Red Curse-Healing Wall.

We were a bit confused on how to start but there is a standby waiter on the dining hall to cater to anyone who needs help. After ordering, we were seated near the ‘Red Curse-Healing Wall’.

This is the available set menu on the night we visited Van Gogh. A set includes a soup, Van Gogh’s black rice, main entrĂ©e, dessert and a drink for PHP 555.00. We ordered the President Lincoln’s Orange Turkey and the Kurt Cobain’s Medieval Chicken. There is also an available ala carte menu.

Courtney Love’s Potion of the Day. A concoction of fresh fruits and herbs, sweetened by Palawan Honey. Ours have cucumber, mint, pomelo and a lot more. The concoction for this awesome drink changes depending on the ingredients available.

Virginia Woolf Turkey Soup. The turkey soup reminds me of childhood memories. I don’t exactly know what triggered me to feel nostalgic but it just did. The soup is made of slow-cooked broiled turkey, herbs and lots of vegetables. Lovely.

Van Gogh Rice. Organic Black Mountain rice with Olive oil-Bagoong sauce and Olive oil-Soy Sauce, with vegetables and banana chips. Jetro explained that Van Gogh Rice is a low-glycemic food which releases glucose in the bloodstream gradually. He also said that it’s better to eat the rice if its wrapped in cabbage. The taste is similar to Brown rice.

President Lincoln’s Orange Turkey. A combination of turkey and other veggies, topped with mango cubes and walnuts, and a serving of cherry potatoes on a cabbage. The turkey fusion is satisfactory but I think it would have been better if the mangoes are chilled. The cherry potatoes taste great!

Kurt Cobain’s Medieval Chicken. The medieval chicken is so good and so flavorful, and it literally melts in your mouth. This is the first time I’ve had this kind of experience with chicken.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Spicy Ice Cream Cherry. The ice cream is plain but the black spicy syrup that comes with it is good. You’ll only feel the spiciness in the syrup after swallowing a spoonful of ice cream but it’s only a mild kick. Surprisingly, the cherry is fresh, still sour and a little crisp.

Before we came to Van Gogh, we’re already having a good time. By the time we finished our food, L and I were extremely euphoric and feeling a bit crazy adventurous!

Check out the teas. There are 8 jars of teas and corresponding to each is the mood it will stimulate. Tamarind Tea for Extra Upper mood, Mango Tea for Happy Chill mood, Guava Tea for Upper mood are a few. We got Avocado Tea plus a dash of mint for Soothing mood.

Off to pay. We rang the bell and they gave us 2 papers. The first one was the paper we wrote in our orders and the other, the official receipt. We head over to Van Gogh’s Red Box near the entrance. But before paying, I saw this stash of flower herb teas for P99.00. The tea-lover that I am, I checked each package, Carnation, Ginseng Flower, Jasmine, Lily and Lady Orchid. I opt for the last, the Lady Orchid.

Now for the Red Box. Van Gogh’s mode of payment is through Honesty System. You wrap your money on the ‘paper with order’ and place it in the Red Box. If you need change, just get it from the stash of money. A note on top of the red box says: 1 million blessings and 1 million curses.

After paying, we had our tea outside. The avocado tea has a mild taste. No matter how long we steeped it in the hot water, it doesn’t taste bitter but only gets better with each passing minute.

After the tea, we brought back the teapot inside (self-service system). We saw Jetro standing by the door. We had a little chat about the flower herb teas. To my astonishment, he gave me a free pack of tea: the Ba Bao Cha or The Eight Treasure Tea. I must say, the free Ba Bao Cha sent me in seventh heaven.:)

Our overall experience, quoted from my best friend L:

Has there ever been a time when you were not your usual self and

…you felt so good or so hyper the other people thought you were not your normal seld?
…you felt much more self confident than usual?
…you were much more talkative or spoke much faster than usual?
…thoughts raced through your head and you couldn’t slow your mind down?
…you did things that were unusual for you that other people might have thought excessive, foolish or risky?

If you answered YES to more than one of the above, then, have several of these ever happened during the same period of time?

Well is you answered yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and YES… We now both have the VAN-GOGH-IS-BIPOLAR-LOVEBUG!

Tea Taste-Test

1.      Ba Bao Cha

Also called The Eight Treasure Tea is a blend of 6 or 7 fruits and flowers, Green tea (sometimes tea is omitted) and Rock Sugar. It originated from Yunnan, China and the concoction is a medicinal herb formulated to promote energy, circulation and to replenish ‘chi’. The ingredients vary.

I’ve identified 7 of the ingredients: Goji Berries, Plum, Orange Peel, Jasmine flower buds, Ginseng Root, Green Tea and Rock Sugar. The magenta flower in the picture, I failed to recognize. Though the usual flower included in Ba Bao Cha is Chrysanthemum.

Ba Bao Cha tasted fruity with a flowery aroma. Like a mild-tasting fruit juice. The taste is slightly sour, probably due to the plum but is also sweet due to the Rock Sugar. I’ve anticipated the tea to be extra sweet because there were around 8 Rock Sugars included but surprisingly, the tea is a little less sweet than the regular sweet a person is used too. And the sweetness that comes from the rock sugar is different from the usual sugar. Personally, I don’t like putting sugar in my tea but for the Ba Bao Cha, I’ll make an exception.

The best thing about Ba Bao Cha is you’ll enjoy it whether it's hot or cold. Amazing! This is my first time trying it and I already love the taste.

2.      Lady Orchid

Lady Orchid is the one I bought from Van Gogh. Also originated from Yunnan, China and is classified as an Oolong Tea. Produced by tightly compressing the tea leaves with powdered American Ginseng and Licorice Root. Lady Orchid is said to replenish energy.

The texture is grainy. If I see this anywhere, I would have mistaken it as dirty pebbles because of its shape, hard surface and its color, which ranges between gray and olive green.

It took me two infusions before the Lady Orchid bloomed. The second steep is better than the first one for the taste is more pronounced. Slightly sweet and has a really subtle taste of ginseng.

*  *  *  *

            As quoted, “To those who are Bipolar, it isn’t a disease—it’s  a GIFT!”. If not for Van Gogh is Bipolar, I would not have known about “happy-hormone-producing” foods. Now, I have an idea on how to deal with myself whenever I’m sad; and fewer reasons to stay emo and depressed. All thanks to Van Gogh is Bipolar. You rock!!!:)

Van Gogh is Bipolar is now an official Gastrognome favorite.:) Located in 154 Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. Open everyday from 6pm til 10 pm except Tuesday.

Subscribe to Adventures of a Gastrognome by Email. Click here.


  1. I've heard so much about this restaurant.. But your review, complete with pictures, sealed the deal -- that I HAVE to try it. Thank you so much for sharing! I like their concept (honesty system, self-service, themed walls, etc), so I'm sure my visit will be a wonderful one as well. :)

    xoxo hazel

  2. We really had a great time there. They really triggered the happy hormones.

    Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll have a grand time in Van Gogh.:)

  3. I visited Van Gogh is Bipolar and like you, took a lot of pictures. The myriad of tea pots are so cute, no? However, I have never tried any of their dishes. I only had some tea and dessert. With your recommendation, I shall consider my next visit to Van Gogh is Bipolar as money and time well spent.:)

  4. True, true. It's money and time well spent. We'll go back there this Feb, and I'm sure, everything is worth spending.:)

  5. Counting the days that I have the time to go there and give this a try. Honestly though, the concept is amazing but the food doesn't look that good, heh heh

    1. The concept is one-of-a-kind. For the food, hmm some are really good and some are just average. Do tell me of your experience when you go there.:)