Saturday, May 26, 2012

Queens at Bollywood

Another good thing about my job is that I get to interact with different people of diverse cultures and nationalities. In fact, I do have some Indian students and, out of curiosity, I've asked a few of them about the best Indian restaurants they know. Queens at Bollywood was one of the common answers I've gotten from them, so I went and tried this place out since it's more accessible and, well, a bit cheaper compared with their prime recommendation, Kashmir.

I went to Queens at Bollywood with a friend on a rather hot afternoon, and I was glad to see no other people in the restaurant. 

We had the place to ourselves so that gave us plenty of opportunities to take photos everywhere.

The interior, although small, is very nice. They have a lot of Indian ornaments around the store and I was pretty happy that the place exuded that exquisitely vibrant Indian vibe. They even loop Indian MTVs on a wide television screen to complete the Indian dining experience.

Another interesting thing is that they have an extensive menu that is Bollywood-inspired. The problem is: I don't have the slightest clue about any of those Indian dishes, let alone the Bollywood stars featured on their menu. Hence, we ended up not knowing what to order here, so we had to ask the very friendly waiter, Michelle, what' she'd recommend. Thankfully, she gave us excellent recommendations.

Papadum (Complimentary)

Before Michelle served our orders, we helped ourselves to this wonderfully crispy, and not to mention complimentary, Papadum with some totally addicting dips!

The dips were just so delicious. I can't get enough of them! I think the one on the left is the mint and coriander chutney, the middle dip is the sweet tamarind sauce, and the other one is the totally washed out yogurt dip (sorry for the bad photo). My favorite's the yogurt dip as it neutralizes the spicy flavor of the Papadum.

Cheese Naan (P 145.00)

Our first order came right after, the Cheese Naan. It was a flat bread that's really soft and delicious with a creamy cheese filling that's absolutely heavenly. This is one of the non-spicy dishes we had for the day and I absolutely loved it. 

Chicken Tandoori (1/2 P 350, 1/4 P 220)

Up next is the Chicken Tandoori. We only had a quarter serving as we were afraid that it might to be too spicy. However, to our surprise, it was not. Yes, it was one hot and spicy dish, but it was also very flavorful and pleasant. The spiciness is tolerable.The meat of the chicken was also super tender and every part of the meat was filled with so much flavor. We demolished this entire plate in less than 10 minutes, and we're not yet starving at that!

Rogan Josh (P 350.00)

We had the Rogan Josh next. According to the menu, this one's a Kashmiri specialty composed mainly of mutton cooked in traditional Kashmir masala, some saffron, and yogurt. 

Hands down, this one's definitely my favorite among all the dishes we've devoured tasted because, apart from the meat being so tender and flavorful, it was unlike anything I've tasted anywhere. The dish just had the right blend of spices and it brought out the flavor of the meat without being overpowering.

Now, for dessert, we had some Kulfi.

Pistachio Kulfi (P 95.00) 
I went with what Michelle recommended, which is the Pistachio Kulfi. It was not really extraordinary but it was a bit more delicious than the mango-flavored one. The ice cream wasn't also that creamy and it had a slightly grainy texture, but it looked charming nonetheless (being diced and all) and I think it's, to some extent, a good way to end an uber spicy meal.

Mango Kulfi (P 95.00)

The Mango Kulfi, on the other hand, was just plain sweet. I would rather eat Selecta's Premium Mango Ice Cream in place of this one. 

Paan (Complimentary)

And, to wrap up the meal, Michelle offered us some Paan, which is some sort of local mouthwash, to wash down our palates a bit. Of course, we don't want our breaths to smell like we've eaten an entire basket of onions, so we tried it out. It had a weird flavor and it's somehow close to the traditional Filipino mouthwash, Nganga, but this one can be swallowed. Notwithstanding the taste, it was surprisingly refreshing. It felt like we've just brushed our teeth.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience here and though we would still want to try out Kashmir before giving this place a return visit, this is one of those few places I could consider as a favorite, at least in my book. The service was just stellar, the food is great, and the Indian-inspired interior is a definitely a plus.

Ambiance - 4/5
Food - 5/5
Service - 5/5
Value - 5/5
TOTAL - 4.75/5  

Queens at Bollywood

(02) 757 3536
3/F Greenbelt 3, Esperanza St., Ayala Center
Makati City, Metro Manila

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Persian Square

Persian Square's another one of my favorite restaurants, not necessarily because of the good food served here, but because of its breath-taking interior design. 

From its high-arched portals, to its decorated columns and raised terraces, its architecture is truly a majestic wonder, exuding a sense of nobility and traditional style.

It looks like a mosque from the outside. But wait 'til you get inside.

Without a doubt, the interior's appearance could pass for a first-class restaurant. The tables look very sturdy and expensive and the seats are all custom-made. Everything in the restaurant looks posh and  luxuriously Persian. 

There's even an indoor fountain inside...

...and a mural with a map of Iran (Persia).

Plus, they have free Wi-Fi access inside the restaurant for those who would like to linger a bit and, perhaps, read or study. The place is also very private.

Of course, with an ambiance like this, the food also does not come cheap. I and my friend found it very hard to pick which ones to have on the menu as everything's really pricey. We're on a tight budget during this meal since we've had lunch and afternoon tea somewhere else before we went here for dinner, so we didn't have enough cash anymore to splurge on their very expensive kebabs. 

Barbari Bread (P 20.00)

After much deliberation, we started the meal with a ridiculously cheap piece of flat bread, which they call Barbari (this one's the cheapest food item on the menu so we made sure to order this). It was still hot when served and we've noticed that, unlike other ordinary flat breads, it's toasted. I wouldn't really say that it's the best flat bread I've tasted but, for the price, I think this one's pretty satisfactory. This can be slightly difficult to eat though as it's a bit hard, but it's okay for me.

Koobideh Kabab (P 125.00)

As we were budget-constrained, we also thought of ordering their cheapest kabab, the Koobideh. The menu says that this is a skewer of juicy strips of charbroiled seasoned ground beef mixed with onion and Persian spices. I wasn't too sure about the juicy part, but I thought that it tasted okay (although  I felt like eating meatballs while munching on this). It was a little bland but the sauce that came with it was spicy enough, giving this dish more flavor and making it, overall, interesting. It's not too bad for the price.

Red Sauce for the Koobideh Kabab. It's spicy!

Bakhtiari Kabab (P 345.00)

But, of course, we also wanted to try those kebabs from the upper price range, so we picked this well-garnished and colorful dish, called Bakhtiari Kabab. The menu describes this as a skewer of charbroiled slices of chicken fillet and beef tenderloin marinated in lime juice and onion. I thought that it was actually good. The chicken fillets were tender and the meat was juicier and more flavorful than the Koobideh. The mayo-like sauce (which I think is probably yogurt sauce) actually gave this dish a Shawarma-like feel, but I still loved it anyway. This was easily the best dish of the night.

Mayo-like Sauce of the Bakhtiari Kabab. It tasted like the garlic yogurt sauce on Shawarma wraps.

Watermelon Shake (P 95.00)

To douse our flaming and almost burnt palates, we had a glass of this refreshing watermelon shake. It was sweet and really fruity. It's the perfect drink for an extremely spicy meal, and it looked cool with the slice of watermelon on the glass (which, of course, we ate as well). 

Our meal here wasn't really what I would consider exquisite, but it was at least satisfying. The service here was great, everyone's attentive, and the ambiance is worth coming back to. Surely, this place would always be remembered. I just hope that I have more money to spend the next time I pay this restaurant a visit so I can try out their rice dishes (Chelo) and other kebabs.

Ambiance - 5/5
Food - 3/5
Service - 5/5
Value - 4/5
TOTAL - 4.25/5  

Persian Square

(02) 470 77 00
101 Julia Vargas Avenue

Ortigas Center, Pasig City, M.M.

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