It’s hard to decide where to look first when you step foot in the quaint little shop that is Om Lifestyle Café. Every nook and cranny is crammed with interesting items such as clothes, dinnerware, jewelry, home decor, fabrics, books, trinkets, and what have you. The different colors, sizes, and textures of the products in the store make for an interesting ambience. It is a wonderful representation of the vivid characteristics of India. Even the aroma in the café is captivating. The over-all feel of the place is bright, homey, and peaceful.
Om Lifestyle and Café just opened in January of this year. It is run by mother and daughter team, Suman and Anjie Gogna. They frequently travel to India and hand-pick all the items that they carry in the store. Their impeccable taste really shines through as the products that they sell exude flair and character. Om Lifestyle and Café started as a home-based business. It was formerly known as Gifts of the Maharani. It all started when Suman, who has been living in the country for three decades, brought home products from her native India for her friends. Her discerning eye for great products soon turned into a business. This year, she and her daughter finally put up a boutique. They also added a café so as to complete the lifestyle experience.
Suman can often be found in the café, folding clothes, straightening items on the shelf, or chatting with her customers. If you see her there, don’t be afraid to ask about the merchandise as she is more than happy to answer questions. I asked a regular customer what kept her coming back to the boutique and she answered with a big smile and said that, apart from the great food, she is treated like family. It’s not hard to believe because the owners radiate warmth and hospitality.
The café part of Om Lifestyle and Café still exhibits the owners’ personal touch as it showcases family recipes. The menu is streamlined as they chose to narrow down the selection to what they deem as staple Indian food. Suman is particularly proud of their Samosa (P40). And rightly so, in my opinion because it is exceptional. The flaky, crumbly crust encases a lightly curried mix of spiced potatoes and other vegetables. It comes with a tangy tamarind chutney sauce. I’m a big fan of Samosas which is why I was really happy to discover it on their menu. It’s completely meat-free but very filling. One of the things that I love the most about Indian cuisine is the way they make vegetarian dishes more enjoyable.
Lassi (P80) is a traditional yogurt-based drink that is popular in countries such as India and Pakistan. Om Lifestyle and Café makes a great glass of Lassi where sour and sweet interact beautifully. They also have an interesting Lemon Ginger Cooler (P80), basically a lemonade infused with grated ginger.
Other must-tries in the café are their Mutton Rogan Josh (P200), the Chicken Biryani (P150), and the Chicken Tikka Pita Pocket (P180). Rogan Josh is one of the signature dishes of Kashmir, located in India’s northwestern region. It is a yogurt-based dish made with curry and an array of spices that make for a rich dish with complex flavors that mesh really well together.
The café currently offers two desserts. I tried Gulab Jamun (P40) for the first time and liked it. Gulab Jamun is a kind of fried dumpling made with milk and flour which is then soaked in rose water syrup and served warm or at room temperature. Its taste closely resembles that of our very own yema.
Om Lifestyle and Café is available for private functions. Its beautiful interiors and cozy ambience are ideal for intimate get-togethers with family and/or friends. They’ll even come up with a special menu for you.
Om Lifestyle and Café highlights both traditional Indian culture as well as modern Indian style. With its luminous interiors, noteworthy merchandise, amazing smells, and good food, Om Lifestyle and Café manages to capture the brilliant intricacies of India in an inviting space.
Om Lifestyle and Café is located in 2/F Fox Square Building, #53 Connecticut St.North East Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. They are open from Monday to Saturday, 11am-8pm. Visit their website (www.omlifestyleandcafe.com), Like them on Facebook (omlifestyleandcafe), and follow them on Twitter (@OMLifeStyleCafe) and Instagram (@omlifestyleandcafe).
Photos by Albert Peradilla, additional images courtesy of Om Lifestyle and Cafe.