This Restaurant in Kapitolyo Feels Like a Hole-in-the-Wall in India

Ricksha Streetside Tandoor highlights homestyle Indian cooking.

Ricksha Streetside Tandoor
22 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Saturday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday)

PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

(SPOT.ph) While fine-dining restaurants have their charms, seasoned diners know that the best food can often be found in casual, hole-in-the-wall eateries. These are the best places to discover a country through food—though even without a plane ticket, you can eat your way through your preferred nation as long as you know the best, under-the-radar nooks to check out here in Metro Manila. In the mood for Indian food? The latest low-key gem to visit is Ricksha Streetside Tandoor in Kapitolyo.

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Located beside Poco Deli, colorful Ricksha is hard to miss.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
The cozy restaurant seats around 20 people, according to owner Cyril Addison.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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Though there’s no chance you’ll mistake Ricksha for a luxe, high-end spot, it’s no dingy joint either: Colorful murals both inside and outside the tiny space will draw you in—that’s if the sight and smell of beef and chicken cooking on the tandoor don’t do the job first.

Owner Cyril Addison’s background is not one to be scoffed at, either: Before opening Ricksha, he worked at The Raintree Group of Restaurants, and then at Gallery by Chele. But after more than a decade in other folks’ kitchens, he decided that it was time to open his own venture.

The tandoor was custom-made locally for Ricksha.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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“I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and my wife and I have always wanted to open our own place,” shares Addison. “When we went to India a couple of years ago, I took her on a trip to [the places] where I grew up, and we realized, ‘Oh this is the kind of food nobody does [in Manila].’ So we built this place based on that.”

Named after the ricksha or “rickshaw,” a two-wheeled hooded vehicle similar to our tricycle, Ricksha is all about no-frills, casual Indian fare—the type you could probably get streetside in India. For their menu, Addison went back to the recipes of his childhood, cooking them up with the help of his mother, Rebecca.

Start your meal with Bhajji Fritters (P65) or fried onion fritters served with a mint-coriander sauce and a tamarind-dates sauce.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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Lots of toasted garlic makes the Garlic Naan (P99) extra aromatic and, well, garlicky.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

Save room, though, for their myriad of Indian staples—most of them cooked on the tandoor or Indian clay oven. “Tandoor cooking is awesome,” enthuses Addison. “It makes things flavorful and juicy. Most Indian restaurants have a tandoor oven but they don’t focus on it, so I wanted to make almost everything on it. The bread, the biryani...everything is cooked on the tandoor so we can bring focus to it.”

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“These are all [food that] I grew up eating,” he shares. “That’s what I wanted to put on the menu, even the ice cream [and] the soda. I wanted them to bring me back to my childhood.”

Wonderfully chewy, the Plain Dosa makes a great base for the sambar and coconut chutney.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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Addison shares that he could eat “six or seven” dosa throughout the day—something you won’t find difficult to manage either, even with the Plain Dosa (P95). Delightfully chewy with lightly crisp edges, the subtly eggy dosa can get addictive, especially when paired with the sweet-spicy sambar and coconut chutney.

Ricksha also offers Thums Up (shown here with the Chicken Tandoori Salad), a classic Indian soda.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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For a fresh but filling meal, have the Tandoori Chicken Salad (P175). The vibrant bowl has smoky-sweet tandoori chicken chunks tossed with apples, bell peppers, and onions, with a yogurt dressing finishing the salad off with just the right amount of tang.

The Vegetable Biryani is covered with naan before being cooked in a tandoor. 
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Cut through the pillow-soft flatbread to get the good stuff underneath.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

Though if you are hungry for more, the Vegetable Biryani (P225) is a must-order. You’ll hardly notice the lack of meat with the flavorful mix of green beans, potatoes, peas, fried onions, basmati rice, and, of course, a generous blend of Indian spices—not too much to overpower but just enough to give you a nourishing warmth.

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The Kofta Curry is served with naan but also goes superbly with rice.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
The Tandoori Hot Wings comes with a cucumber-yogurt drink, a cooling counter to the wings' spicy kick.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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You can pair your biryani with Kofta Curry (P195), which will get you four hefty pork-and-beef meatballs in a rich and aromatic curry sauce. But the surprising standout at Ricksha is their Tandoori Hot Wings (P195). Their Indian take on Buffalo hot wings is marinated overnight in a blend of tandoori paste and yogurt for extra juicy, spicy wings. Then they’re fried and coated in a sauce of tandoori paste and butter. The result is rich, savory crispy wings with a spicy heat to them that envelops you until the tips of your toes.

The Gulab Jamun is a sticky-sweet treat perfect for your sweet tooth.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
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The Gud Bud Ice Cream has picture-perfect layers that work together to create something delectable.
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

To end your meal, you can go the classic route and have the Gulab Jamun (P95)—fried milk balls in toasty caramel syrup. But Addison recommends the Gub Bud Ice Cream (P150), a towering parfait with layers of vanilla, mango and strawberry ice cream plus crushed vanilla biscuits, pineapples, mango, banana, and nuts—the perfect sweet remedy against Manila’s humid heat.

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“Every Saturday when I was younger, I would always have Gud Bud,” reminisces Addison. Almost every item on Ricksha’s menu has a similar backstory, which makes having their hearty Indian fare extra special. You can almost imagine yourself dining streetside, to the bustle of a ricksha.

Photos by Hans Fausto

*Update: An earlier version of this story stated that Cyril Addison worked at Gallery by Chele before The Raintree Group of Restaurants. This has since been corrected.

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