THE increasingly adventurous Cebuano palate has a new restaurant to excite its senses. In the bright lights and vibrant colors of true Bollywood style comes Bollywood Tandoor, a full-service Indian restaurant that opened about two months ago. It seats up to 200 people with several private rooms, so it can accommodate everyone from solo diners to large parties who want to enjoy authentic Indian cuisine.
The menu has many pages and offers a long variety of dishes. Naan is something so basic to Indian restaurants, but not everyone gets it right. At Bollywood Tandoor, it hits the right spots—it’s hefty and chewy at the same time, with some flavored varieties like garlic or curry making it that much more enjoyable to eat. In contrast is the light and airy masala papad topped with diced tomatoes. There are also samosas, different types of curries, many biryani dishes and several types of Indian dessert. The Motichoor Ladoo is reminiscent of polvoron—balled-up wheat flour, milk and sugar.
Restaurant owner Soni Vasnani is no stranger to Cebu, as he has lived here for a good 12 years. His children grew up here and attend a local university. With the years spent inculcating himself with Cebuano culture, he’s definitely gotten a good grasp of how Cebuanos like their Indian cuisine. His restaurant at Gaisano Country Mall, Mr. India, continues to do well, but he wanted to expand the business. Bollywood Tandoor is more of a restaurant than the diner feel of its older brother. The flavors remain authentically Indian in the well-trained hands of two chefs from North India and a third chef from Dubai. But the heat can be adjusted, since not everyone is accustomed to intense spices.
Vasnani has been in the restaurant business for a long time. He started working in restaurants at the age of 15. “That is why my sentiments are in this industry,” he says of his deep-rooted passion for the business. “It’s not all about making money.”
Bollywood Tandoor is located on Gov. Cuenco Ave., Cebu City, right by the foot of the Talamban side of the Banilad-Talamban flyover. One won’t miss it, even at night—the well-lit signage makes sure of that. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 to 11 p.m. for dinner. Go on a Friday or Saturday for dinner, and there are going to be belly dancers, too.