By: Lou Maningas Cabalona
Looking through the blue-framed glass windows of ROOH, you’re almost sure you discovered a newly- opened bar in Chicago. That’s if you happened to miss the words “Progressive Indian” stamped on the glass, declaring a firm commitment that this newest addition to the popular restaurant row on Randolph Street is serving cuisine that is anything, but traditional.
On an early Sunday evening, the first floor dominated by a bar is packed with a mix of young families dining and friends coming together for a drink. Sujan Sarkar, Executive chef, shares ROOH’s two floors can accommodate as much as 200 guests at one time on a busy night.
The luxuriously modern interior impresses, matched with the myriad of flavors from the different regions of India, the use of fresh local ingredients, modern-cooking techniques and its elegant presentation.
The menu offers a generous selection of small plates for appetizers or dinner, tapas style. The Green Pea and Goat Cheese Kulcha (stuffed-flatbread) with summer truffle shavings is simple yet rich, it’s a staple- starter to be enjoyed by all. Other delicious dishes include Avocado & Edamame Papdi Chaat, a lovely light salad with the perfect balance of crunch, creaminess and acidity; Kashmiri Lamb Ribs coated in apricot and chili marmalade and, Cauliflower Koliwada deep-fried in spiced chickpea batter and tossed in peanut chutney.
Guests can also opt to dine family-style sharing large plate offerings, such as Lamb Shank Nihari and, my favorite, Whole Sea Bass stuffedbaked in Banana Leaves. Light Bengal Mustard cream is poured onto it right before serving. Chef Sujan also elevates a popular dish in Indian menus, Traditional Butter Chicken in Red Pepper Makhani with generous cutlets sprinkled with Fenugreek & Butter Powder. The sides – saffron rice, garlic naan and the traditional black dairy dal which takes 2 days to prepare – are a must- have to complete your meal!
Our party, as expected of Filipinos, favored meat dishes, but there is no shortage of options for vegans, too.
You will likely be nearly full after dinner but don’t skip desserts! The Besan Barfi topped with Chocolate Crèmeux and Hazelnuts paired with Milk Ice Cream and Toasted Rice Granola, reminiscent of our own Pinipig, exquisitely melts in your mouth. The Phirni Mousse, a Cashew Cake that is crunchy and chewy at the same time is complemented with Thandai Ice Cream and Wild Rice Wafer, so all the savory sweet goodness goes down smooth.
One commonality is a notable lightness of the dishes, veering away from the heavy emulsification of oils in sauces that everyone is accustomed to in Asian dishes. This maybe a welcome change as people are generally progressing towards healthier choices with their diet but it could be seen as lacking.
Overall, true to its name, ROOH brings the spirit of India to Chicago through a delicate balance of authentic flavors with a subtle hint of modern gastronomy that appeals to all of our senses. ROOH is located at 738 W Randolph Street in Chicago and is open Tuesday-Sunday. For hours and more information, visit www.ROOHchicago. com.
Two Filipino Films featured in Asian Popup Cinema this fall Asian Popup Cinema’s Season 9 this fall features Filipino Focus with two award-winning films from the Philippines – Signal Rock and Miss Granny.
A film by critically-acclaimed director Chito Roño, Signal Rock is beautifully shot in his native Samar in the Philippines. Based on a true story, the film follows a young man, Intoy (Christian Bables), who lives on a remote island where women go far away to find a better life. He lives with his family who depend financially on Vicky, his sister, who emigrated abroad. Despite communication challenges caused by depending solely on weak mobile signals near strange rock formations by the coast, he summons the entire village to do what it takes to help Vicky win a child custody battle.
Signal Rock will be shown on Thursday, October 3 at 7pm at the at Alliance Française, 810 North Dearborn Street in Chicago. The screening will be followed by a Q&A and exclusive reception with lead actor Christian Bables who won Best Leading actor in the recent Hanoi International Film Festival and a Special Jury Award for Outstanding Acting at the Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino for his role.
Tickets which include the meet-and-greet reception are $25 and can be purchased at fylpro.org/ signalrockmovie. Net proceeds of this event will benefit FYLPRO, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization of high-performing, next-generation leaders that have a passion for advancing the Philippines and the Filipino people.
Signal Rock ticket-holders are also eligible to claim reserved seats for a free admission, first come, first served Filipino film, Miss Granny on Tuesday Oct 8 at 6pm at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium of the Harold Washington Public Library.
In this 2018 Filipino remake of a South Korean film with the same title, a stubborn old woman named Fely steps into the Forever Young Photo Studio and magically emerges as her 20-year-old self. She uses the chance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a singer in this movie musical. Directed by Joyce Bernal, the movie stars are Sarah Geronimo alongside James Reid, Xian Lim, and Nova Villa. Geronimo bagged Movie Actress of the Year at the 2019 35th PMPC Star Awards for Movies for her role.
For more information about the event, check out asianpopupcinema. org/signalrock10319 or contact Louella at 708-528-6321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, on Oct 3, Subtle Filipino Traits, an online Facebook Group that describes itself as a community bringing together Pinoys from across the world and a place where kababayans can celebrate their Filipino identity is having its first-ever Chicago meet-up during the Signal Rock event. With close to 40,000 members, Chicago organizers are collaborating with FYLPRO to curate activities around the screening and are expecting a sizable group of SFT members to come out. For more info about the group and how to join the Chicago meet-up, check out bit.ly/sftchicagomeetup1
A peek in the ROOH Chicago kitchen. Louella looks on as Executive Chef Sujan Sarkar describes a dish while plating (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)
Baron and Louella Cabalona, on either ends of the table, enjoying a conversation over appetizers while Aileen Delarosa of Black Adobo Productions snaps an Instagram worthy shot of a dish (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)
Large Plate star dishes Lamb Shank Nihiri and Whole Sea Bass stuffed with green peas, cilantro and poppy seeds baked in Banana Leaves are best enjoyed with sides like naan, dal and saffron rice (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)
Starters and Sweet Endings: (left) Avocado & Edamame Papdi Chaat and (right) Besan Barfi topped with Chocolate Crèmeux and Hazelnuts paired with Milk Ice Cream and Toasted Rice Granola (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)
FYLPRO Alumni and friends supporting the soft launch of Asian Popup Cinema last Aug 28 at the AMC River East 21 Cinema (clockwise fr top left) Max Castillo, Matthew Arceo, Jason Delarosa, Baron Cabalona, Charles Federico, Eric Manipon, Gail Rodriquez, Louella Cabalona with son Reign, Dr. Melissa Palma, Linus Herrera and Lakhi Siap (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)
Sophia Wong Boccio, Executive Director (left) and Vice President Michael A Foster (right) of Asian Popup Cinema partner with FYLPRO led by Louella Cabalona and husband Baron for the film screening of Signal Rock on Oct 3. At center, is 16 month old Reign Malaya Cabalona. (Photo by Black Adobo Productions)