Indian resto Tango Tandoor spices up Valentine’s season

Its four-course Romantic Indian Feast is curated by esteemed London-based chef Kundan Singh.

For us Filipinos, a meal that screams romance usually includes steak or some expensive seafood like lobster. It could also be something along the lines of French or Italian cuisine or maybe a degustation dinner in a posh restaurant.

Indian food doesn’t come to mind first, I’m almost quite certain. Daring in its use of spices, the cuisine is loved by many Pinoys, myself included, but isn’t usually on one’s list of romantic V-Day date ideas

Indian restaurant Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast begs to disagree, however. Since it first opened its doors in August 2023, this little gem in a quiet corner of bustling BGC has been serving up authentic Indian fare with a modern British sensibility.  

And its four-course Valentine’s menu definitely spices up Valentine’s season.

From fan to colleague

Valentines Day: Tango Tandoor's Romantic Indian Feast
Chef Kundan “Kun” Singh Rawat and chef and restaurateur Marvin Agustin talk to The Post about Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast. Photos by Johanna L. Añes-de la Cruz

Tango Tandoor is the brainchild of London-based Indian chefs Kundan “Kun” Singh Rawat and Kapil Devidas Jogdand, who have already made a mark in the city’s competitive dining scene. Their culinary prowess continues to earn them fans worldwide, including Filipino chef and restaurateur Marvin Agustin, who loved their Tandoor Chophouse at Covent Garden so much he knew he just had to bring the talented duo to the Philippines. 

Speaking to The Post during the press preview of Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast, chef Marvin recounts his very first meeting with chef Kun, who designed the special menu and is currently in town. “In my head I was trying my luck. I wanted to have a feel of him first,” he says.

When chef Kun told chef Marvin that he was “always in the Philippines,” the actor-turned-entrepreneur felt very happy, thinking that he already had a big chance of bringing both esteemed chefs to the Philippines. 

“When we ended our talk, I was just hoping there’s an opportunity. Because you see, this space used to be Cochi and I moved it to a bigger location, leaving this spot vacant, and I was thinking what to do with it,” he tells us. “That’s why in my head, if there was an opportunity for him to come here, I already had the spot .”

“When he said yes, I was like, oh my God he’s coming!” chef Marvin’s eyes light up as he recounts this moment. “I don’t need to sell the Philippines anymore. He likes it here.”

Rethinking the palate

Valentines Day: Delhi-born chef Kun
Of his culinary philosophy, the Delhi-born chef Kun explains that he aims to modernize
Indian cuisine.

Chef Kun has traveled the world, even having his own restaurants with the same concept as Tango Tandoor’s in Dubai, Germany, and New York. The Delhi-born chef, however, has long fallen in love with the Philippines, going back and forth to the country since 2013. 

“The first time I came to the Philippines, after three days, I didn’t have anything else to eat,” he tells The Post in a separate conversation, sharing that as a last resort, he just opted to dine at a famous fast food chain. 

That’s when he thought he could probably do something in the local dining scene. “That’s why I’m here now,” he enthuses.  

Of his culinary philosophy, the Delhi-born chef explains that he’s trying to modernize Indian cuisine. By modernizing, what he means is to “rethink the palate” depending on the place. 

“Like if I’m here in the Philippines I need to rethink the Philippine palate. When I go to European countries, I rethink the European palate. They don’t like things too spicy, (so) I need to balance the flavors,” says the soft-spoken chef. 

Valentines Day: Chef Kun curated the menu for Tango Tandoor
Chef Kun curated the menu for Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast.

“I love all types of food. I never compare a group of food with others,” he adds. “One of the first Filipino dishes I had was adobo and I liked it. It’s similar to what we have, rogan josh. And sinigang, too, I love it.” 

The same philosophy inspired chef Kun’s curation of Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast for the Valentine’s season, which he started working on last month. The menu is, of course, all Indian, but chef Kun took the local palate into consideration. “What are the flavors you like? What is the spice level? These are the main things I considered so everyone will enjoy the menu,” he says. 

With regard to Tango Tandoor’s concept, Marvin shares that he saw no need to make it into a Filipino-directed kind of Indian restaurant, adding that just like Indians, we Filipinos love our food saucy and flavorful. We also love to enjoy our dishes with rice. 

“The only request I asked of chef Kun is to serve rice, because I love his Tandoor Chophouse in London, it’s just that they don’t serve rice. I’m so happy with what they do with breads and flavorful appetizers, but I know that Filipinos would love to have rice with Indian food.” 

Kun, thankfully, was okay with the idea of serving rice, according to Marvin. “I’m so happy with his rice dishes. You know his biryani (dishes) are really good.”

“He also loves playing with spices and flavors and that’s what Filipinos like. Hindi naman siya maanghang, ‘di ba? It’s just that the spices are there. That’s why I know Filipinos would like (chef Kun’s food),” the former matinee idol adds with a warm smile. 

A romantic Indian feast

Valentines Day: Tango Tandoor Chicken Samosas
Chicken Samosas with two kinds of chutney: mint, coriander and tamarind.

Chef Kun’s Romantic Indian Feast features four courses, all of which I was lucky to have tried among a few more dishes which chef Marvin thought we should also have a taste of. 

With Kun’s impressive resumé, including having worked as the head chef of some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants and with his restaurant being named as one of London’s 100 Best Restaurants by Time Out magazine, you and your date are in for an impeccable meal.

Valentines Day: Tango Tandoor Nargisi Kofta
Nargisi Kofta is like an Indian version of scotch eggs.

For starters, guests can choose between Chicken Samosas or Nargisi Kofta. I love how the samosas were so flavorful but with just the right amount of curry that’s balanced by two kinds of chutney: mint & coriander and tamarind. My only qualm about the Chicken Samosas is that it’s very filling; I think a piece is enough if you’re not coming in famished. 

Chef Kun describes Nargisi Kofta as a favorite among Indians. We are all familiar with kofta, which are like meatballs, served as is or on skewers. This recipe, meanwhile, takes it to the next level that it can be described as the Indian version of scotch eggs, only much more flavorful. Hard-boiled eggs are encased in a mixture of lamb and seasonings, dusted in flour, and deep-fried until crispy, then served in a rich and savory gravy made of tomatoes, spices, and yogurt.  

The main dish is a Rib-Eye Steak that is cooked to melt-in-your mouth perfection in a tandoor oven that gives the meat a lovely char. If you’re feeling not too health-conscious on the day of your visit, make sure you relish the parts with some fat on it—so sinfully good! Chef Marvin shares the steak is one of his favorites on their menu, saying: “I love the steak. I guess the tandoor oven gives it magic.”

You can choose between naan or basmati rice to accompany your steak, with Kachumber Salad on the side. I could feast on Tango Tandoor’s naan, which is not the usual thick and chewy kind with which most of us are familiar. Chef Kun’s version is the crispy, buttery, and garlicky kind and I’m not complaining. 

If you prefer fish over beef, you can opt for Pampano Tandoori as your main dish.

Valentines Day: Tango Tandoor dessert Mango Kulfi
For dessert, chef Kun concocted a refreshing Mango Kulfi, a popular Indian dairy dessert that is denser and creamier than ice cream.

To end your Romantic Indian Feast, chef Kun concocted a refreshing Mango Kulfi. This popular Indian dairy dessert is denser and creamier than ice cream but like its more popular sister, it also comes in various flavors. Traditional ones include cream, rose, mango, cardamom, saffron, and pistachio.

Aside from the dishes included in the Valentine’s menu, chefs Kun and Marvin also delighted us with some of the most popular of their regular offerings. Additional appetizers that were served were Cauliflower Croquettes (P248), deep-fried cauliflower balls infused with coconut and served with garlic aioli; and Onion Bhaji Rings (P258), onion rings dipped in spiced gram flour batter then deep-fried and slathered with tangy chat masala. 

They also let us try their Butter Chicken (P398), which is fork-tender and moist tandoor-roasted chicken thighs simmered in a rich and velvety tomato cream sauce. I expected the sauce to be a tad richer and buttery but I don’t mind because the medley of spices is so satisfying and comforting at the same time.

Tango Tandoor’s Romantic Indian Feast is available until Feb 18, so if you can’t make it to V-Day, you still have a few days left to treat your special someone to great Indian food. The set menu for two is priced at P1,994 per head. Message Tango Tandoor on Instagram or +63 995 270 3932 for reservations.

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