New Restaurant Alert: Mantra Bistro at Bolanos Street, Makati
North India doesn't hold back on flavors.
G/F Grand Midori, Bolanos Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Contact No.: 776-0318, 0926-049-9357
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Wednesday to Monday)
(SPOT.ph) Opening a restaurant was always Ranjit Chimni's biggest dream, but the timing never seemed right. It took 15 years of working in the BPO industry, eight years of living in the Philippines, and several twists of fate before he finally went full force and chased after his life's ambition. The Grand Midori spot, where his restaurant is today, was originally meant for a more seasoned restaurateur, but fast forward to May 2016 and Mantra Bistro was born.
This is a cozy semi-private spot.
Very bare bones
A Delhi native, Ranjit teaches us about the differences between North Indian cuisine (where he’s from) and South Indian cuisine. The former employs a lot of tomatoes and onions while the latter goes for coconut-based specialties. What sets Mantra apart is how tandoori-centric his food is. The wonderful thing about cooking in a tandoor clay oven, Ranjit explains, is the discernible smoky flavor you get thanks to the oven’s high heat.
At Mantra, their tandoor oven is fired up by charcoal instead of gas, giving the dishes an extra charred flavor that takes you by surprise in the best possible way. Super-soft Chicken Tikka (P400) and plump, spicy Tandoor Prawns (P475) are grade A examples of how tandoori cooking should taste. Perfectly paired with a steaming hot bowl of white biryani rice, tandoori meats are comfort food in itself.
When going the curry route, the Chicken Curry (P325) is best paired with Naan (P75). Mantra Bistro also offers other varieties, like Garlic Naan (P100) and Butter Naan (P90). This oven-baked Indian flatbread is always a winner, and Mantra’s version is no exception. Pillowy-soft and perfect for soaking up the rich, flavorful curry, the naan is also available in a secret, off-menu mixed basket.
Green Pea Tikki
The biggest surprise at Mantra is the Green Pea Tikki (P255). A vegetarian dish that’s made up of green peas and cheese, it’s extra-spicy and surprisingly filling. It packs a taste bud-jolting flavor that you'd never expect based on the deceiving little green patty.
Thanks in part to a chef who also hails from the same region, Mantra Bistro puts North Indian cuisine to the fore, right up to the dessert. The ubiquitous Indian sweet Gulab Jamun (P120) makes an appearance on the menu, but it’s the Kulfi (P175) you’ll want to end your meal with. Considered as Indian ice cream, this special dessert is made by reducing milk, adding condensed milk and cream, then letting the concoction cool. Crushed cardamom, pistachio, almonds, and cashews are then tossed in before the dessert is left to freeze. The first bite is fragrant and light, and the next few bites tone down the bold Indian flavors of your meal. It’s the best way to close an intense, flavor-filled adventure.
Photos by Majoy Siason