I swear, I love Japanese food—from the simple to the complex, from the traditional to the modern. But it wasn’t until about recently, when I had this great craving for Indian food. It must have been triggered from a trip I had last year that brought me to Macau, where I had the best Indian food prepared in a restaurant (Indian Spice) managed by the friend of a blogger friend of mine, Rachel. I was with Justinne too, during that trip, and she confirms that it was the best Indian food we’ve had. I returned home to Cebu with a revived love for tikka masala.

Bollywood Tandoor opening
The family was invited during Bollywood Tandoor’s opening. We loved the food!

But then just about two months ago,  I was happy to know that my younger brother’s friend and his family, opened up a new Indian restaurant in Cebu and that we were invited to go and try the food during the opening night. (Fist pump).

Bollywood Tandoor is located on Gov. M. Cuenco Ave, Cebu City. To be specific, if you’re coming from the Banilad Town Centre side, it is on the left side right where the flyover ends. Turning left might be a challenge, so a taking a U-Turn somewhere is advised. If you’re coming from Talamban, bear right and don’t take the flyover.

I had the chance to talk with the restaurant owner, Soni Vasnani, and he shared that the restaurant has no plans of changing the flavors of its dishes to suit the local palate. He gave me a resounding “no,” which I actually liked. I mean, I don’t think I’m going to India anytime soon, so I might as well try the real deal here in Cebu while I can. Soni, however, clarified that although the flavors are authentic, the restaurant tweaks the spice levels a bit lower, as most Filipinos may not be able to handle the heat.

Would you believe this dish is all vegetable? Crispy veggie magic, what it’s called. One can have this really spicy, which makes it really good.
Now, back to the topic of “authenticity.” I am not the person to say if the food is authentic or not. But Soni shared how the restaurant imports all of its spices from India and even has a room built for its spices. This allows the restaurant to store every ingredient at room temperature. Can you imagine a spice that costs P3,000 for a kilo? Yes, Bollywood Tandoor goes all in when it comes to presenting Cebu what India has to offer.

But… Soni explained that authentic may still be very well subjective. How is that?

“INDIA is too big,” Soni said. “Serving authentic Indian food” is a little bit more complicated than it seems. “India has 29 states, with some states bigger than the Philippines.”

(And I lift these paragraphs from a story I wrote for the local paper)

This should strike local foodies hard. If the Philippines, with an approximate total land area of 300,000 square kilometers, has trouble differentiating humba and adobo from each other, imagine what a total land area of 3,287,263 square kilometers (that’s about 10 times more) does to a dish of chicken tikka masala?

“Each state presents a different kind of food, and here in Bollywood Tandoor, we try to sample dishes from every state,” shared restaurant owner Soni Vasnani. (End quote)

The interiors feature a mix of a lot of things. But there are portraits of popular Indian celebrities on the walls. Look, Aamir Khan!
The menu is pretty extensive. But Soni claimed that if one knows his Indian cuisine, he can simply ask the kitchen to prepare it, even if it’s not on the menu. Bollywood Tandoor will be more than happy to serve its patrons. But of course, the customer is always right but the availability of resources has the last say.

Now, let’s talk about the food. How does the taste of the dishes here at Bollywood Tandoor measure up to the past plates of Indian food that I have happily cleared?

It matches up pretty well. Bollywood Tandoor’s servings are easily one of the best Indian food one can have in Cebu.

But as what I have observed, personal preference plays a huge factor when it comes to Indian food. To enjoy it, one must have an idea already what to expect: lots and lots (and lots) of flavor; white rice is a non-factor; almost every dish is saucy beyond recognition.

You know what rhymes with Hallelujah? Chicken tikka masala. Just saying.
Once the expectations are clear, the journey begins. And the journey is a tasteful trip that’s best had with the restaurant’s signature freshly baked flat breads.

Flat breads are handmade and freshly baked by the restaurant’s chefs.
Another item that adds to the place’s claim for serving authentic fare is its use of an authentic tandoor brought here all the way from India. A tandoor is India’s traditional clay oven. With this, the restaurant’s flat breads (chapati, naan, roti, parathas etc.) are done perfectly.

From pot to plate, flat breads take about a minute to cook.
Order a plate of chapati, and wipe that bowl of curry clean with a piece of bread. The meat are cooked great as well. But what the restaurant is also good at is presenting non-meat options that can still compete, flavor-wise, with the recipes that have meat.

Vegetable samosa. This is also good. But I prefer the crispy veggie magic more.
I suggest for people to skip the biryani (mixed rice dish) on their first visit. Order the flat breads, order the bowls of curry one likes (meats available vary from the unusual lamb and goat, to everyday favorites chicken and pork). Well alright, I take it back. Grab a bowl of biryani while you’re at it and just enjoy every spoonful.

The vegetable biryani, ladies and gents. I love this, but I’ll be ordering me a meat biryani the next time.
Parking is easy, the restaurant is relatively spacious (there is both an air-conditioned space and al fresco dining area; I prefer staying at the latter), and there’s a bar when one wants to down his food with some quality beers.Bollywood Tandoor is located on Gov. M. Cuenco Ave, Cebu City and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 to 11 p.m. for dinner daily. As an added bonus, dinners on Fridays and Saturdays are complete with entertainment by belly dancers.Last! For price range, I think P350-P400 per person for a group of four already makes for a small feast.That’s about it. Let me know what you think. Enjoy! – LQ3Live


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