A bold sign in yellow neon lights declaring the name of the bistro bar greets everyone taking the escalator to the 3rd level of Greenbelt 3. “Bollywood” is a welcome respite from your typical, not to mention moolah-burning, Greenbelt dining experience.
The ambience of Bollywood mimics that of an Indian temple somewhere in the heart Punjab. The space housing the comfy seats on the right side is adorned with pink and fuchsia fly-shooing ornaments made of capis and sea shells, and serve as curtains dividing the tables, a stark contrast from the row of tables on the left. The mirror panels which cover the right wall of the restaurant gives a natural roomy feel. On the other hand, colorful hand-painted illustrations of Bollywood give life to the whole stretch of the wall on the left. There’s also a plasma TV mounted at the center playing, what else, but Bollywood movies! At the far end of the place is an elevated platform which serves as a stage, though there was no one was around the time we visited to accept my request for some sitar riffs.
Nobody could contest that the best indicator for the authenticity of a restaurant is attested not by some head chef in a five-star hotel, but by the expat-patrons themselves craving for some good, ol’ home-grown food. There was no Indian mob inside clamoring for their bite of samosa or piece of chicken curry, though a bit nationalism kicked-in after looking around and found out that ours is the only all-Pinoy group inside out of the four or five or so clusters, where one group at the farthest table had specks of white.
A culinary expert-friend came to our aid in ordering the food. It’s always a mind-bending task for me ordering the right kind of food in these exotic places, even though the menu was not in Sanskrit, with my mounting fear of being served a sautéed appendage of a yet unclassified life form. That’s the price one has to pay I guess for adventurism. But sticking to the chicken curry would be so boring. We ended up ordering the following items after some spicy deliberation:
Taco shells with a zing– was served for starters. Well, at least, that’s how they looked like. Tasted more like prawn crackers, and it goes well with the assorted condiments of mango chutney (like pickled mango), mint chutney, and yogurt. Unlimited servings =P~
Chicken tandoor – Looks like chicken inasal served on a sizzling plate garnished with herbs. A bit bland for my Pinoy tongue, even with the assorted dips… Thumbs-up for its tenderness.
Butter/garlic naan – It’s the Indian contribution to the carbo-overloading diet. It looked and tasted like soft, unleavened pizza dough. After all, wiki says it’s made of wheat flour. It goes perfect dipped in or wrapping the main dish.
Rogan josh – It’s not the name Wolverine and Rogue’s son. It represents our kare-kare without the veggies, though it’s made of mutton chunks in red, curry-ish sauce.
Prawn balchao (?) – is like our spicy gambas, only more flavorful with the generous slices of garlic. Yum!
Palak Paneer – resembles our dear laing, but is made of crushed spinach with less of the coconut milk and topped with strips of ginger and cottage cheese cubes (which actually tasted like tofu to my untrained tongue).
If you don’t like the idea of billowing smoke coming out of your ears and your zing-o-meter shooting up, you may ask the pretty waitresses to adjust the spice to a tolerable taste. Just add the chili powder, seeds, and green chili to suit your taste.
For dessert, we had assorted fruit tarts from Rowena’s in Tagaytay courtesy of my chef-friend. By the way, they didn’t charge us any corkage fee. Dhanyavaad!