Sunday, September 15, 2013

Indian Cuisine: Kashmir vs Bollywood

Manila has developed a taste for spicy food as evidenced by the number of curry-serving restaurants cropping up in the metro. Given that I will most likely have spicy food the next few days (this draft has been sitting in my Mac for 3 weeks now) allow me to share my experience with Kashmir - the Indian food dame along Pasay Road and Queens at Bollywood - the new kid on the block in Greenbelt positioned to be a hip stop for Indian cuisine.

As a basis of comparison, let it be known that these 2 will be shared based on ambiance, chicken tikka masala and lassi. In general, New Bombay - winner of Manila's Best Indian Restaurant and Person A and I's favorite Indian place - will also be the gold standard for curry dining. At least in our case.

The Place: Kashmir

Having discovered that I love Indian food, we have been on the lookout for Indian places in the metro. Kashmir has always been on top of the list to try given that it has received a number of accolades in the past.

Kashmir is a positioned as a classic restaurant with rich traditional decors. Chairs and furnishing are heavy wood. Smell of incense and rich perfume engulf the place.

Casual seriousness - if such a phrase exists - is how I'd describe the place.

The Place: Bollywood

An Indian-food enthusiast colleague introduced us to Bollywood. Optimizing a meeting with a wedding partner, Person A and I decided to try Bollywood while discussing decors with a vendor.

This restaurant fits well in posh Greenbelt. Its interiors is distinctly Indian - with rich ambiance rendered by the heavy furnitures tempered by modern cushion and the smell of incense and old-world.

Fitting to its name, the walls are adorned with pictures - possibly of Bollywood stars and movies. Also, Bollywood MTVs are constantly in the loop in the restaurant's television sets.

This is a good pitstop before heading out to party or drink in the Greenbelt area.

In both restaurants, Indian-looking diners are a norm - hence it's a good sign that the food is authentic.

The Food

Kashmir serves Malaysian, Middle-eastern and Indian cuisine. Servers are very attentive - it maybe that we were there early evening.

Once order is placed, spicy nuts and local delicacy will be served. It's hot and perfect to let you crave for your main dish.

Bollywood, on the other hand, serves bread while you wait for the main course. 

This is crispy bread with choices of dips. 

Perfect if you are already hungry.

Kashmir Chicken Tikka Masala (PhP450 )

Chicken cubes in spicy curry sauce. Serving size is good for 2 - if you are watching your diet and 1 if you are hungry and want to enjoy a hearty meal.

It's herby and spicy enough. What makes it distinct is its liver-like aftertaste. It makes the sauce extra rich and adds the bitter character.

Speaking of sauce, it's perfect with roti canai.

Roti Canai (PhP 90)

Malaysian croissant-like, fluffly bread enriched with milk and ghee.

The bread is soft and fluffy and has a sweet after taste. Perfect to temper the spicy sauce. This is the best bread for the tikka masala!

Bollywood Chicken Tikka Masala (PhP )

Tender pieces of barbequed chicken in a tomato buttered and spiced sauce.

Spicy level is mild, sauce is mildly flavorful and not as thick as how I want it to be. It's decent but can greatly improved with more spices and herbs.

Bollywood's Naan (~ PhP 100)

This rendition has a sweeter taste to the bread and softness. Fluffy - it's not but it's good enough for the spicy sauce. It's your typical good naan.

Spicy food is always good with Lassi as dairy washes down the spicy taste in your tongue.

Kashmir's Mango Lassi (PhP 155)

Dairy is very dominant with generous amount of mango. This is what I consider extra rich, sweet lassi. Perfect to tame down the spicy taste.

One of the best, if not the best, lassi in town.

Bollywood's Lassi (~ PhP 120)

A good rendition of lassi though not too much on the mango flavor. 

More slices of fruit and some shots more of dairy would make this glass excellent.

In Summary

1. Kashmir is fitting of its grand dame status: food tastes good and authentic, the ambiance is perfect for serious Indian dining and you can hardly go wrong visiting the place.

2. Bollywood, on the other hand, is a good Indian-food stop when you're in the Greenbelt area. The ambiance is hip while the food tastes good enough.

3. Food alone, I would suggest New Bombay and Kashmir while for convenience and ambiance, Bollywood makes the cut.

Festejo Bldg., 886 Pasay Road
San Lorenzo Village, Makati

Queens at Bollywood
3F Greenbelt 3, Esperanza St
Ayala Center, Makati

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