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Beloved Indian Restaurant Ricksha Is Now In Greenhills

The former streetside eatery is now a plush bistro complete with creative cocktails and a wine pairing program!

I loved the old Ricksha Streetside Tandoor, a true hole-in-the-wall gem of a restaurant in the Kapitolyo, Pasig area that offered homestyle Indian cooking at its most heartfelt. While its tiny space with non-existent parking exuded a certain off-the-wall quirkiness, it was obvious that the restaurant needed more room to grow. And that’s exactly what the owners did by just recently relocating to the swankier Greenhills neighborhood. As a longtime San Juan resident, I can attest that it’s probably the first bonafide Indian restaurant in this neck of the woods, and I can’t be happier.


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The new Ricksha in Greenhills | Ricksha

The beating heart and soul of Ricksha lies in the husband-and-wife tandem of Cyril and Pierre Addison who run the place like the true family affair that it is. For one, the menu is largely derived from the Dhaba-style cooking of Cyril’s mother or “Amma,” Rebecca Addison, and the many dishes Cyril enjoyed growing up in Bangalore, India. But Ricksha is no humble mom-and-pop business, as Cyril and Pierre are well-known powerhouses in the F&B industry, bringing close to 25 years of combined experience to make sure their dreams for Ricksha are fully and professionally realized.


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Cyril and Pierre Addison | Ricksha
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That experience shows, as the owners seem to know exactly how to balance the homestyle feel of the original restaurant with its shiny new incarnation. No longer the roadside cantina it once was (thus it has shed “Streetside Tandoor” from its name), this new Ricksha now boasts spiffed-up interiors, a proper bar counter, and even a plush velvet-lined banquette area for those wanting a bit more privacy. The back dining area can be closed off with heavy curtains for private events. 



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A plush space for private dining | Ricksha

At a recent dinner at the owners’ invitation, I was happy to see that the menu still skews closely to the old one, but also experiments beyond traditional fare. These days, Cyril is taking advantage of the tandoor oven’s charcoal-fired high heat to roast whole fish and ribeye steaks, aside from the usual breads and grilled meats. “I wanted to highlight the tandoor which I thought was such a great, unique cooking style,” he explains. 



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South Indian dosa, Dhaba-style egg curry, and tandoori US ribeye steak. | Ricksha
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Tandoori-grilled pompano | Ricksha

The same can be said of Ricksha’s impressive beverage menu that shows how there’s so much more to pair with Indian food than the ever popular mango lassi. Thanks to the expertise of Pierre Addison, Ricksha offers sophisticated cocktails that riff on classics with an Indian touch. The fun Mirchi Margarita is spiked with just a touch of Kashmir chili, while the strangely appealing Peas, Not War combines gin and absinthe with sweet pea purée and bignay powder. There is a range of Gin & Tonics, mixed with different spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel and clove. Pierre has also created a proper wine program (dubbed “Love, Pierre”) to help diners navigate pairings with the spice-laden dishes. Out of curiosity, I opted for a glass of Last Warrior Chardonnay from Ningxia, China which felt lovely on the palate and even lovelier when paired with the dishes I had.


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Cocktails: the Mirchi Margarita, and a trio of G&Ts | Ricksha

Our dinner was off to a good start with Ricksha’s signature chaat or savory street food snacks: the addictive Bhel Puri tsitsirya of spiced-up puffed rice, alongside Pani Puri or puffed-up hollow balls that one fills with a potato-pea mixture and a tamarind broth. We also enjoyed Finger “Okra” Fries, dusted with chili and turmeric, that make sweet potato and potato fries taste bland and too starchy in comparison. Other small plates range from classic Samosas to Cyril’s childhood favorite Marina Beach Sundal Salad (chickpeas with green mango and coconut), to a more grown-up Goan Style Curry Clams cooked in white wine, cilantro and curry.



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Pani Puri (left); Catch of the Day (whole fish in banana leaf with biryani rice) and Cyril's favorite Marina Beach Sundal Salad | Ricksha
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Goan Curry Clams | Ricksha

No visit to Ricksha is complete without an order of one of its famous dosas, crepes made with a fermented batter of two types of rice and lentil to achieve that distinctive savory-sourness. Dosas can be eaten plain or with a variety of fillings, like potatoes and peas (Masala Dosa), or with onion, chili and tomatoes (the thicker Uttapum). We happened to enjoy the Gunpowder Egg Dosa, filled with homemade gunpowder (a South Indian powdered spice-lentil mix) and egg, just like Cyril’s mother used to make, and served with freshly made sambar and coconut chutney. While these dosas may be a bit too filling as part of a big dinnertime feast, they are the perfect pick-me-up, morning to afternoon or even late at night. (Cyril admits he eats this for breakfast every day.)


The main courses require multiple visits to dig deep into what is on offer. Of course, there is the ever-popular Butter Chicken that most every Indian restaurant in town serves. Ricksha’s version happens to be one of the winningest I’ve tried, with just the right balance of creamy, tomato-y, spicy, and a touch of smoky thanks to the marinated chicken chunks grilled in the tandoor oven before getting incorporated into the rich sauce. The real surprise, though, is the Bhaingan Bhartha, a curry of eggplant stuffed with masala, with an indescribably deep, smoky, almost earthy flavor. If I ever decide to go vegetarian, I can probably survive on this eggplant curry alone.


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Indian Butter Chicken, and the Bhaingan Bhartha | Ricksha

Ricksha also specializes in what it calls dum biryani or mixed rice in a claypot, sealed with naan dough, and cooked in its own steam in the tandoor, according to Cyril’s mother’s recipe. We had Paneer Biryani, a satisfying blend of paneer (fresh cheese), potatoes and peas that give the rice an unusually creamy, moist texture. There is also the familiar Chicken and Goat Biryani variants, as well as a Tiger Shrimp Biryani that I am truly tempted to try on my next visit. 


After the spice-laden fare, we cooled down with two very different desserts. The Gajar Ka Halwa is a milky mound of shaved carrots topped with strawberry ice cream, an odd but refreshing treat reminiscent of carrot cake. On the other hand, the Gulab Jamun, milk balls soaked in a sweet cardamom syrup, felt familiar and comforting.


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Dhaba-style egg curry with naan, Rogan Gosht | Ricksha

Through the years, I’ve come to see Indian cooking as virtually comfort food, no longer too exotic or too spicy, but rather as something hearty, complex enough not to be boring, but unfussy enough to enjoy any time of the week. The menu at Ricksha delivers on all fronts, serving already familiar classics like samosas, butter chicken, beef vindaloo, but also other less well known dishes that expand most Filipinos’ limited understanding of the regional complexities of Indian cuisine. Ricksha feels like that neighborhood joint that one can visit, whether there’s a special occasion or not. I know I’ll be back to try the other menu items, have a cocktail or two, and even dig deeper into the wine list.


Ricksha | 0917) 637 2113 | IG: @rickshastreetsidetandoor | FB: @rickshastreetsidetandoor | 6 Missouri Street, Greenhills, San Juan City.


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Photos courtesy of Ricksha Streetside Tandoor