An Intro to Indian Food by Way of Royal Indian Curry HouseJanuary 21, 2016
How does one navigate a 17 page menu? This is the dilemma at Royal Indian Curry House, which seems to have more than a flair for excess. The building it’s housed in is separated into five floors, dedicated to a dining room, a bar with a jeepney in the middle, and a place for billiards. The decor is opulent to say the least, with plush velvet chairs and touches of gold everywhere.
This explains the long menu then, where editing seems to have gone out of the window there are more familiar Indian specialties, then dishes from other regions across the subcontinent, followed by staples cross-bred with Chinese and Filipino delicacies. It is intimidating to work around; Indian food in Manila remains a largely unexplored cuisine, the depths of which have yet to be tackled, studied, and eaten thoroughly in these parts.
What Royal Indian Curry House offers is an education, and it is a good thing that their staff has a grasp on most of the menu. There are your typical kormas, vindaloos, biryanis, and tandooris, but there are also regional dishes from Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Goa. It takes ages to decide on what to order, but even more visits to get through a fraction of what’s on offer. There are definitely bound to be some duds among the seven pages: a Khaas Seekh Kebab (PHP 349) was a little too sweet that it was reminiscent of longganisa with no distinct taste of mutton or paneer, and Mutton Momos (PHP 229), a dumpling found around Tibet and Nepal, had thick, doughy skins that were still a little cold, and mince that hardly filled the ball. But after several visits, the consensus was general; there were some pretty good hits.
Every meal starts with papadum that are light and crisp, studded with fennel seeds, and served with a trio of sauces, all delicious. Tamarind chutney is a little on the thin side, but with a pleasing sour-sweetness. The hot sauce is the kind that burns your tongue down to your throat but still retains amazing flavor, and the minty sauce was just refreshing enough to marry both. Their naan is exceptional — soft and elastic, slightly sweet, with burnt edges that are a perfect foil to its inherent sponginess. This naan covers their Hyderabadi Biryani(PHP 499), a different take on the usual, where the meat is marinated and soaked in yogurt overnight, layered into rice, then cooked in a claypot sealed with the flatbread. It is ingenious, and comforting.
Generally, their curries are all made well, and even if you stray away from your usual, (of which their renditions are quite serviceable, particularly their rogan josh and murg makhani) you’ll find little fault. Kadhai Gosht (PHP 399) cooked down mutton, onions, and capsicums in a rich tomato gravy so that it was reminiscent of a more full-bodied, spiced kaldereta. Malai Kofta (PHP 299) had a creamy saffron-inflected gravy that was home to sweet and savory cottage cheese and nut dumplings that could convert anyone into a vegetarian.
If one was well-versed in Indian cuisine, they might be bothered with how much is on offer here, and how Royal Indian Curry House crosses borders too often and too far (is it really necessary to offer Bicol express, sisig, and egg noodles?) . But if you’re looking for classics, and a way to open your palate to new spices and flavors, then the ambitious space does all that and more.
Royal Indian Curry House
Address: 5345 General Luna Street, Poblacion, Makati
Number: (+632) 246 9069
Damage per person: PHP 300-400
Foodnotes: Parking on the streets may prove difficult, so best to park in the mall across. Catering and delivery are available.
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