I’ve already been to several Indian restaurants in Manila so far, and the established ones all have a similar vibe to me: they’re very traditional in style and interior design, are a little intimidating, and aren’t very mainstream. You’ll probably go to these places when you are feeling adventurous or get invited to them by your Indian-Filipino friends.
Within the last couple of years, I’ve observed quite a few more relatable Indian restaurants sprouting up with a more modern feel and more accessibility to the community. Last April, one restaurant that joined this new league is Ricksha Streetside Tandoor located in the sprawling Kapitolyo, Pasig area.
From a marketing perspective, I feel Ricksha is set to stand out from the rest and there are so many reasons why. For starters, it has an unprecedented, quaint, and stylish hole-in-the-wall feel to it. Secondly, the owner Cyril Addison was once affiliated with Raintree Group and Gallery By Chele (then Vask Gallery), which was part of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for several years. Their food can also be paired with great quality wines selected by co-owner Pierre Addison, who is a WSET-certified sommelier. Lastly, the restaurant showcases Cyril’s mom’s recipes, a real testament to quality home-cooked dishes.
Prior to arriving, I already knew what I wanted to order. I was salivating for something fried, and something rich and creamy.
We started off with Bhajji Fritters (Php65), Fried Onion Fritters. This is the first time I tried this and it reminds me so much of the famous Blooming Onion I see on YouTube. Battered and fried to become crispy and flavorful, it works very well with its accompanying mild spicy dips.
Kofta Curry (Php195) – beef and pork meatballs – was served next along with some hand rolled Paratha. Kofta, which is also popular in the Middle East, is a local meatball made from ground meat and mixed with spices. In India, this is usually cooked in spicy curry or gravy. Paratha, on the other hand, is a wheat-based flatbread, which literally means layers of cooked dough. I like that Ricksha’s version has whole pepper in it, so you can increase its spiciness level. I wiped all of the sauce with my bread, but it still left me wanting more.
Then came my favorite Palak Paneer (Php225) made with homemade local cheese, pureed spinach, and curry. Ricksha’s take on this dish was also something new to me. Instead of the tofu-like mushy cheese I was acquainted to, this seems pan-seared, so it creates an outer crust that gives the cheese more texture. The sauce is so light, I could chow this down like a bowl of cream soup.
The Gunpowder Egg Dosa (Php125) caught my attention because the menu said it is to die for! Usually eaten for breakfast, Dosa is a type of savory pancake made from fermented rice and lentils with a crepe-like texture. Gunpowder or Podi is a South Indian recipe of mixed spices usually made of curry leaves, sesame seeds, and lots of chilis, and can be used as an all-around flavoring. Since Ricksha’s recipe is not spicy, it is more appealing to the Filipino palate. This dish comes with coconut chutney and sambar. The chutney serves as a condiment or a sauce to the main dish.
We made a last minute order of Chicken Tandoori (Php250). This comes with biryani rice, Amma’s curry, raita (yogurt sauce), pickled onions, and fryums. I don’t regret overeating because this is a winning dish! The chicken is flavorful and doesn’t have that shocking red color, although the cuts are a little small for me. Amma is the mother of owner Cyril, and her curry is truly to die for. The pickled onions are also some of the best I’ve tried!
I left the place with a happy heart. I never imagined an Indian restaurant could be this inviting and welcoming. With all of the accolades backing up this restaurant, Ricksha doesn’t only look good on paper, it definitely delivers! Plus, if you get lucky, you might see Pierre there, too. Ride the Ricksha!
P.S. For Php495, a buffet lunch is served every Sunday from 11AM to 3PM.