Ricksha Streetside Tandoor is Your Newest Indian Eatery Obsession
I have long been fascinated by husbands and wives who work together successfully and yet somehow still remain the best of friends. They are a rare breed and the fruit of their labor is usually not only the best in class, but is almost always layered with richness and personality that only familiar intimacy can breed.
Such is the story of Pierre and Cyril Addison, a couple whose combined professional experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry exceeds their individual ages, and whose collective know-how has led them to create a fully realized restaurant concept that is surely scalable—even when the intention was a simple Indian eatery accessible to Filipinos, with recipes tweaked to perfection and consistent and reminiscent of home cooking.
Pierre and Cyril Addison, "Amma" Addison
Like any Indian restaurant worth its samosas, Ricksha Streetside Tandoor is a nostalgic tale of family tradition with its very own love story. Cyril was born in India but later moved to the United States, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Hospitality Management. Pierre, on the other hand was born and bred in the Philippines and graduated with a degree in Biology thinking she was going to be a doctor someday. After university, however, she decided to pursue further studies at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. A job hunt for a line cook position ended up with Pierre working as a hostess at an East Coast restaurant where she honed her love for wine and received her sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Wine & Spirit Trust. “Little did I know, I was going to meet my husband in my WSET courses in Philadelphia,” she says.
A wedding, two careers, and two sons later, in 2011, the Addisons decided to make the big move. Cyril began working for the Raintree Group and Pierre for a local wine company. Later, she ventured into her own wine consultancy. The two also recently partnered with Chele Gonzalez at the Studio Lab and Cyril consults at the reopened Gallery by Chele.
Earlier this month, after years of conceptualizing and months of planning, the couple, along with Cyril’s mother and father, who recently relocated to the Philippines from the United States, opened their ode to a lifetime of eating memories—Ricksha.
"My dream has always been to open a restaurant and I always wanted to showcase the cuisine of India," says Cyril. "Pierre and I went on our first trip to India couple years ago and she fell in love and that’s when we decided that we would open one. The name Ricksha comes from the tricycle my family would take going to the market every Sunday.”
Ricksha, located along the vibrant culinary strip in Kapitolyo, Pasig, is an eatery that is true to its cultural identity in spirit and flavors. The couple isn’t comfortable claiming that it is traditional or authentic—that was never their goal. Rather, putting forward good food that is both colorful and filling, and offering dishes that are approachable to the local market is what is most important to them.
“I am not sure that traditional is how we would describe our food. Ricksha's menu and flavors largely represent what Cyril likes to eat, whether it's from his hometown or from his own experiences," says Pierre. "It is Indian food, but comfort Indian food."
Cyril continues, "Just like in Filipino cuisine, everyone has their own recipe for curries and spice mixes. Ricksha’s version are my mom's recipes and everything is made from scratch. All the breads, the desserts, the curries, the samosa wraps, everything is made by us. I found that in India, the flavors were more 'real.' I wanted to recreate that. It costs more, but the taste is undeniable."
Straightforward and fun, the small establishment is comfortable, colorful, and laid-back. Its interiors are simple but its imaging is distinct. At this tightly packaged ethnic eatery, everything is paired, so its easy to understand. Curries come with parathas, dosas are served with chutney, and gulab jamun is put forward warm, and best taken with a cup of masala chai. It is the type of home-style food that Cyril’s mom would make every day for her family, and that other Indian moms would make for their own.
"We like to focus on flavor, not only on spice," continues Pierre. Somehow there is a big misconception that Indian food is always spicy. Indian food is always packed with flavor, not necessarily heat, which is how Cyril likes it.”
Bhel Puri, an Indian streetside snack usually served in paper cones, is made with puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and peanuts, and lightly tossed in a subtle tamarind and date dressing
Full flavor and a bit of sentiment is exactly what you get at Ricksha. Take for instance the Bhel Puri, an Indian streetside snack usually served in paper cones, is made with puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and peanuts, and lightly tossed in a subtle tamarind and date dressing. "I remember eating this in India very vividly," says Pierre. "So simply made but oh so delicious. This dish I knew I wanted to have if we dared open a restaurant."
Another favorite is the summer sandal, a refreshing bowl of cold chickpeas mixed with roasted curry leaf and mustard seeds, grated coconut, green mangoes, and cilantro is a favorite beach snack that Cyril would eat when visiting his grandmother in Chennai. “My sisters and I would play all day, read comics and wait for the 4 p.m. siren for her to come home and take us out. Our favorite was going to the Marina Beach to watch the sunset. There would be hundreds of vendors walking around selling Sundal salad," he recalls.
Tandoor Hot Wings
Cyril’s memories of morning breakfast dosas and birthday biryani also find their way on to the Ricksha menu. Chicken and vegetable dum biryanis are crowned with a puffed pastry that releases the aromatics of cardamom, clove, and turmeric upon puncture.
Dosas are offered plain or stuffed with your choice of onions, chili, and cilantro, masala potatoes, or eggs. Also of note are familiar Indian saucy staples: everyone’s favorite butter chicken, palak paneer, kofta curry, and a healthy channa dhal.
Chicken Dum Biryani
Chicken Tandoor, fish tikka, beef and pork kebabs are baked in Ricksha’s tandoor oven and are available as plates along with basmati rice, Amma’s curry, raita, and pickled onions, or as a fillling for paratha-stuffed kathi wraps.
For those looking for an afterwork spot to enjoy tasty snacks, some cold beer, a glass of wine, or a rejuvenating G&T, Ricksha also delivers. Perfect afternoon snacks include bhajii onion fritters, flakey samosas, curry fries, and tandoori hot wings served with spiced cucumber yogurt dip.
To satisfy Cyril’s sweet tooth, his favorite on the menu is the Gud Bud Ice Cream. “As a young boy, my friends and I would go to the local ice cream shop for gudbud; it was our hangout spot. I tried stopping there on our recent trip. Unfortunately, it was no longer there, so I recreated it at Ricksha," says Cyril. "It's an Indian version of halo-halo with no ice and just different flavors of ice cream. Jell-O, fresh fruits and nuts, and different flavors of ice cream—how can you go wrong?"
Gud Bud Ice Cream
Ricksha Streetside Tandoor is at Unit 1, 23 East Capitol Drive, Bo. Kapitolyo, Pasig City.