Lost myself in the labyrinthine Urgello area with the PussyKat in search of this supposed vegan gem of a hole-in-the-wall. Working that street for a good amount of time in what the unforgiving heat made an already desperate search, Shiv Dal Roti started to seem like an urban myth until the owner, Vijay Kumar, picked up my nth call and graciously offered to meet us up at our stop. The jolly good fellow led us just around the corner, a little beyond our earlier attempts to locate the shop.
The restaurant’s colorway, patriotic to the subcontinental republic, almost led straight into downtown Mumbai had the radio not yanked us back to The Island with Sarah Geronimo’s radio jingle for a sanitary pad brand. Looking like a kid forced to eat vegetables, the grumpy manang behind the counter affirmed that, Toto, we were still in
KansasPinas. No, this one’s probably not vegan.
Vijay, as he insists to be called, ran us through the entire hot display and special menu items. We had a Roti Thali, of course, and a Vegan Burger. Somehow, a Vegetable Biryani found its way to our table, as well.
The Roti Thali, a set, was pretty much standard Indian with Roti’s fresh off the tandoori to dip into the Paneer Tikka Masala–which was like a spicy, all-veg Pinoy menudo, and the Rajma–a slightly salty bean stew. These were made more interesting by the Chattni of pickled green peppers with a hint of mint and two other separate condiments of pickled garlic and ginger.
The Vegan Burger was on the small side and, as with all items plant-based involved in foolish attempts to simulate flesh, failed to satisfy this primarily carnivorous omni. Apologies, vegan friends, I just cannot find joy in a lentil-potato patty.
The Vegetable Biryani was surprisingly good but still lacks the oomph of the meaty standards. One would not be too inclined to this healthier option after having tried a killer Beef variant. Now I’m missing Geylang Serai, Singapore.
A hot, milky Chai Masala washed everything down and worked up a good sweat. Overall, it felt a lot like a home-cooked meal served lovingly by an uncle, Uncle Vijay, in this case. Indian on this Island definitely couldn’t be more authentic than this. Then we all suddenly found ourselves in traditional Indian garb and broke into a passionate rendition of A.J. Rahman + The Pussycat Dolls’ Jai Ho.
Shiv Dal Roti Corner is located on Aznar Street, Urgello, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines.