Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Assad Café

The apartment was empty when I came home from class. It was depressing.

So I put on a shirt and old jeans and walked along UN Avenue, which is just near where I live. I was going to eat dinner at an Indian restaurant in Paco called Assad Café, a place I only knew because of this blog entry.

It was my first time to see the other side of UN Avenue (Taft Avenue being the reference point), and I felt like a tourist again. I was surprised, for example, to learn that there was a big Philippine Christian Book Store branch nearby. And I saw an office of the Philippine Bible League, with lots of beautiful Bibles on display. These stores are just a stone's throw away from where I live. And the realization hit me once more: that I live in Manila, but I hardly know the place.

From Taft Avenue, it took me about 15 minutes to walk all the way to Assad Café. From the outside the place looked ordinary, like a typical airconditioned eatery. If I had not read the review, for example, I wouldn't think of the place as an Indian restaurant.

Liquor not allowed inside Indian restaurant

There were only two customers when I arrived. The place was quiet: no music playing in the background, just the sound of human chatter. I was glad I brought along my book with me, Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet, which I read while waiting for my order. Needless to say the characters of the novel are Indian.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet Cozy

So what did I order? First let me thank the kind lady who helped me through the process. When faced with cluelessness as regards the menu, my technique is to ask for the bestseller, and if that's to my liking—that is, if it sounds interesting enough—I proceed with the order. I almost always get something that sounds different, something I haven't tasted before.

I had Beef Quorma, a delicious Indian curry meal, which I ate with Chapati, a thin brown bread to be dipped into the sauce.

Beef quorma Chapati

Did I want the Quorma to be spicy? The lady gave me three choices, "very spicy, medium, or not spicy." I chose the "medium," which turned out to be just right for my taste.

Consistent with the Indian tradition, I ate with my hands. It was surreal. The beef was soft and some tender parts were falling off. The flavor was fantastic.

Chapati dipped in Beef Quorma Assad Cafe, UN Avenue, Manila

I ordered Sweet Lassi Shake as my drink. Lassi is a yogurt-based beverage. It tasted like rancid milk at first, but after a few sips, I began to like it: an interesting combination of sweet and sour.

Lassi Dinner at Assad Cafe

I was stuffed. Just as I was about to finish, an Indian family came in and occupied the table next to mine. This was the time when my stomach started to grumble—borborgymi, being the more medical term. I should've known: I'm lactose intolerant. I should've skipped the Lassi. On second thought, though, I was glad I didn't, or I would've missed the experience altogether.

Before I left, I went to the waitress and asked what the rest of the family ordered. She looked at me quizzically, and I had to explain that I'd be trying out Mutton Biryani next time. I will most definitely come back—hopefully with friends.

Total cost of meal: Php 200+. 



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been there twice. I end ordering the same dish which was mutton masala. As I understood mutton is lamb, but when I asked the waitress she said that mutton masala is made with kambing/goat meat. I didn't mind because I also like goat meat and to be honest, their flavors when cooked curry style is pretty similar. I always eat the curry dish with nan or chapati, para feel na feel ko ang experience. What I really find amusing is the dish has curry leaves, I knew it was curry coz when I chew it, its bursting with curry flavors. YUMMY.

Sun Oct 27, 08:17:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Anon, I'll try the mutton massala next time.

Fri Nov 01, 01:32:00 PM GMT+8  

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