Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Anti-Bollywood

Note: This is filet minion's post. It was misfiled under my name.

Bollywood Greenbelt 3 is the newest place-to-be that depicts the gaudy but chic, brightly cheerful yet mysteriously romantic, very exotic and almost erotic-- transporting you to an entirely different country south of Asia where not even high society fear to tread despite the possibility of rubbing elbows with the "untouchables."

I think “The Guru” triggered the Bollywood fascination among non-Indians, albeit not a full-fledged Bollywood flick (meaning, not produced in Bombay and starring the hottest Bollywood stars, not Hollywood hotties Heather Graham and Marissa Tomei with some homegrown American as leading man who can still copy perfectly his ancestral sing-song accent). Ever since then, I had been awaiting in anticipation the next Bollywood movie sensation. Strangely, one would wonder what makes Bollywood films so engaging when they are all so "formulaic": 1) always with silly song and choreographed dance numbers interspersed in dialogues; 2) boy-meets-girl and once you are led to believe that the fairytale romance is blossoming, some conflict will spring forth out of nowhere (or should I say, from the river Ganges); 3) but the cheesy plot must always finish with a happy ending (where, everyone, of course, MUST erupt into song and dance for the nth time). Quite reminiscent of typical 80s pinoy flicks actually, but I never did find ours amusing. How can I love Bollywood flicks and at the same time despise anything produced by Mother Lily?!? Am I just being unfair to the likes of Romnick and Sheryl when I immediately brand any movie featuring pinoy loveteams baduy?!

I digress. I have nothing against Bollywood in GB3. I practically fell in love with the whole ambience when I first dined there. It’s just that we must never forget that India, albeit overtaking us in outsourcing and is the new Silicon Valley of Asia, is still an impoverished country, so their food, no matter how exotic it looks or smells, can never cost even 1/18 of how much it is priced in Bollywood.

So lo and behold when my eyes serendipitously gazed upon this sign while the cab I was taking detoured from traffic and took a side street near Kamagong/ Pasong Tamo. It looked like the most enticing, most bogchinoypi-able hole-in-the-wall joint! So the next day, we scoured the area for about an hour in broad daylight just to trace it, and I was not the slightest bit disappointed when we found our unicorn. I entered to check their menu, and true enough, it seemed more appetizing with a delightful array of mutton, curry, basmati, etc. I think what piqued my curiosity the most was when the boy who was guarding the place during the day said: “uh mam, sigurado kayong gusto nyo kumain dito?” "Oo, bakit naman hinde?," I replied. To which he answered, “Ah kase mam, kayo lang po ang unang pinoy na makakakain dito, wawarningan ko lang po kayo na gabi-gabi po kase [Indian] o arabo.” Move over Bollywood, welcome to Mumbai, India!

So that night we trooped to Curry Kebab Place with our P200 wine in tow (no corkage fee of course!) And true enough there were at least 20 boisterous Indians drinking who were silenced into stupor at the sight of two pinoys, one korean and one white man in their erstwhile virginal resto. I thought we were violating the exclusivity rule of their private enclave, but they happened to be very much accommodating and even offered us their leftover Johnnie Walker.

The inside is very bare, like a cafeteria but airconditioned. They asked if we wanted to stay in a separate room, but we decided to be amongst the Indians hoping to get a better rate.

The 35 peso for two big samosas were yummy! So were the aloo wadi, the various paneer dishes, and the Mutton served ten ways. The servings for sharing were reasonably sized. For P120 bucks this was a steal.

By the end of the night we were a bit tipsy and asked the men who seemed like the owners why the Bollywood MTV was on mute. Finding out that we didn’t at all mind, is what started the festivities. The next thing we knew, tables were set aside so we could bellydance the night away to the sounds of Ice, Ice Baby remixed Hindi style. Of course, we (the only ladies) were each partnered with the elderly Indians. One stout and another incredibly skeletal.

Then they started treating our white male company to beers (SMLs are dirt cheap P27), and as the night dragged on, Stout dancing partner invited us all to proceed to “the real Bollywood” (his treat) where his son is a DJ and he is part-owner. We politely declined as strutting our stuff at one venue is enough excitement for a night.

My conclusion: if you want true-blue Indian food and the whole Bollywood experience, with your own booze too boot, then go to Curry Kebab on a Friday/Saturday night. If you want to pay 12% EVAT and 10% service charge over and above the exorbitantly priced tamely-spiced but aesthetically presented Indian food, and are hopeful for the remote chance of getting your left shoulder featured in Yaparrazzi, head to Bollywood GB3.

Curry Kebab is located along Estrella Street, off Pasong Tamo and is open until at least 12 midnight. If you want your food Indian-spicy, you must specify so beforehand, as the chef graciously takes the initiative of tempering the spice for non-Indians.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nameless Pakistani Carinderia

There's this strange place along Angel Linao in Manila. It has no sign out front, no aircon, and no menu. You choose from the food items scribbled on a grungy piece of cardboard posted on the wall. Dine amongst the inebriated barangay tanods - beer costs around P25. The curry is pretty good and the chapatis are steaming hot. Kebabs come hand-rolled and unskewered.

After dinner, dessert comes in the form of videoke. Choose from English, Tagalog, and Bollywood hits and make sure you bring enough P5 coins to drop in the machine. If you're a pretty girl, bask in drunken and soulful serenade of one of tanods. The serenade really did happen, by the way.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

have your cake and eat it too

Check out the chocolate cake at the bakery section of Robinsons Supermarkets. It's moist and fudgy but surprisingly light. Seriously, it defies the laws of cakery! It's so light that you can eat a fourth of it and not feel sick. Well, maybe a little sick. But it's soooo worth it. Especially since a whole cake costs only P385.