At the far end of 16 United St in Kapitolyo—that food hub where Taco Vengo used to be—on the second floor stands Naan, a newly opened eatery serving Indian street food.
Naan is a modest six-table affair owned by two Filipino entrepreneurs brave enough to get into the very intimidating Indian food scene. “We’re not serving authentic Indian food,” co-owner Aldrin Surposa quickly tells us. “We’ve catered it to the Filipino taste so the flavors aren’t too [in-your face.]”
It started in February 2016 as a pop-up, joining food markets and bazaars like The Gourmand Market by Nawwty Kitchen, Mandala Weekend Market, and Brew Fest. Then, Naan only had three items on offer: the Grilled Chicken Tikka (P150), the Beek Brisket Masala (P150), and the Pulled Pork Tikka Boti (P140), which now comprise the Naan Rolls section of the menu.
The plan was to keep testing the market and open a stand-alone restaurant in the middle of 2017 but “every time, we’d join a pop-up, we always get sold out,” Aldrin, whose recipes comprise the 12-item menu, says. It gave them a sense of validation speeding up their process. They developed more items and in October last year, started canvassing for a space. In December, they finally opened Naan at 16 United.
The short menu is divided into three, or five if you include extras and drinks: The Naan Rolls, the Appetizers or Chaats, and the Thali, similar to a Japanese bento box as Aldrin compares it. The simplicity and straightforwadedness of Naan’s menu is a most welcome thing, given how complex and long menus at Indian restaurants can be.
The Naan Rolls are comparable to the soft tacos of many a Mexican joint. The Grilled Chicken Tikka, for instance, has marinated nuggets of chicken thighs with yogurt, mint, cilantro and Sev on top of fresh naan. Fold it up as you would a taco, and you’ve got a hearty merienda that could pass off a light dinner—if you were on a diet, that is.
The Vegetable samosa from the list of appetizers is exactly how you’d expect a vegetable samosa to taste—a gateway item to Indian cuisine, really. We wished we got them as singles instead of a full order of four pieces, though because the Mumbai Fries is everything.
The fries are topped with pickled onions, kheema, yogurt, cilantro, mint, and creamy tomato gravy that will have you ordering a beer, pronto. It’s deliciously hearty, makes for a great bar chow, if not drunken food all together.
Which completely puts us off track. Naan is not an after-hours inuman place. It’s about having a delicious and satisfying meal, as its Thali plates suggest. When they finally open for lunch service sometime this month, it means more options for team lunches and quick dinner bites for Pasig peeps. We are envious.
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