“ Various locations to serve you. „
Masala Zone is part of a chain of indian restaurants, Masala World which include the higher end restaurants of Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Amaya!
Masala Zone is an average priced chain of 7 restaurants, currently only situated in London.
Each restaurant has a different interior, from rajasthani puppets in Covent Garden, to tribal murals In Islington. Each has a contemporary feel and are very clean. I have visited Soho, Covent Garden, Islington and Camden. Soho is a rather busy restaurant, and as such I don't find the atmosphere to be as enjoyable as the others.
The other 3 are Bayswater, Earls Court and Fulham.
Unlike the majority of Indian restuarants, Masala Zone offers something different. I only discovered it a few years ago, and since then it has become my favourite Indian restaurant.
Whilst it may not be what some expect from a traditional restaurant, the culinary experience is most enjoyable.
The menu has an extensive range of choices, from street food, to thali's to curry and rice, to kebabs. Dessert is also on offer, from Gulab Jamun to Kulfi.
It is possible to create a meal simply out of the various dishes of street food on offer, which include hot and cold, meat and vegetarian.
One of my favourite of these dishes is the vegetarian dahi puri, which is a puffed biscuit filled with chick pea mash, pomegranate, ginger, coriander, yoghurt and chutney. The idea is you pop it into your mouth whole and all the flavours intertwine. I personally prefer to eat it in pieces.
For a main meal I choose the thali, as I like to have a little bit of everything.
The thali is a nutritionally balanced meal and there are 2 types to choose from, the regular or the grand thali. Each has added side dishes, with the grand having more than the regular. I opt for the grand thali. With each thali you can choose which curry from the menu you wish to have. My favourite is Chicken Mangalore, which combines coconut and tomato and has a slight kick. I find the ingredients used to be of a high quality, the spices and herbs are fresh and zingy and the taste of each dish is just amazing. You can really taste the different flavours and ingredients used.
Special drinks on offer include Lassi in flavours plain, strawberry and mango, Juices such as orange and mango, apple and pomegranate, apple and mint, and a special lime squash, Nimboo Pani which is very refreshing. There is also wine and beer on offer, as well as a selection of spirits.
There are special lunch and pre 6.30pm offer, where you can have a three course meal for under £12!
All Masala Zone restaurants benefit from street level access and disabled toilets.
High Chairs are available and there is a children's menu for under 7's!
As well as being a restaurant, Masala Zone also offers a delivery service providing you live within 1.5 miles of a restaurant. Unfortuantely I don't so have not experienced this.
If are interested in a different culinary experience, then I recommend Masala Zone!
Masala Zone is a modern Indian restaurant which really does try to be a bit different. It is a chain of Indian restaurants in London that offer a modern, chilled out vibe.
The restaurants are decked out in a stylish terracotta colouring with modern Indian art and looks great, it is really a lower-mid priced restaurant and is becoming more and more popular in London for offering something different to the norm.
I have eaten at the restaurant in Soho and the one on Upper Street in Islington, both were incredibly busy and had a good atmosphere, you can see they are from the same chain in everything from style to staff attitude and conduct.
Prices are reasonable and the menu offers new interpretations of Indian food with options like spiced mash cake or curried noodles, I have to admit every time I visit I have a Thali as I love them, this is a selection of a number of dishes laid out on a massive plate, it offers a rice dish, bread, vegetables and is a starter and main course all in one, its massive, filling, interesting and costs around £7.50-£8.50.
For more adventurous types there is street food too which gives more of a taste of authentic Indian food, there are some amazing flavours and textures and my impressions of the menu are entirely favourable.
Staff are cool, helpful and really do their best to put you at ease, they explain what is available, what they recommend and what matches what drink, their an integral part of the eating experience here and rightly so.
Overall this is a really innovative eating place, with a great menu at prices which are not much more expensive than something like Pizza Hut or Prezzo, but with much more style and substance.
I first came across Masala Zone entirely by chance - I was caught in an unexpected rainstorm in the middle of Soho with the boyfriend and we simply looked for the nearest restaurant to dive into - luckily Masala Zone was something of a surprise hit!
Masala Zone is (at the moment) a London based chain, with restaurants in Soho, Covent Garden, Earls Court, Camden and Islington and is probably best described as the Pizza Express or Wagamama of Indian food. Prices are very reasonable, service is generally average but ok, and the setting is cheerful and buzzy - modern with an open kitchen. But the food itself is where I really rate Masala Zone - the name makes this place sound cheap and tacky, but the food is really good - better than many Indian curry houses I've eaten in.
The menu is based around Indian street food and the best value option is a Thali - a plate giving you a starter, chicken or lamb curry (you choose which one from the various options available on the menu and can 'upgrade' to king prawn curry for a surcharge), poppadom, chutney, rice, daal, and a vegetable dishes. The hungry among you can opt for the grand thali which includes a couple of extra side dishes. I remember the first time we visited Masala Zone, it was so busy we ended up sharing a table with another couple from India (they're not a communal dining restaurant like Wagamama, but this was a really busy time and we didn't mind) who in chatting to us told us they thought that this was the most authentically Indian food that they'd tasted in London.
My most recent visit was to the branch in Covent Garden right opposite the Royal Opera House which has a ceiling decorated entirely with colourful Indian puppets. Although there was quite a queue it moved quickly, we had to wait for about 10 minutes to be seated. We were given a good table away from the door and our order was taken quickly. Service on this occasion I have to admit was a bit patchy - our main waitress was very good, coping well with what was a really busy restaurant, but some of the other staff seemed rather clueless - one lady tried to give us someone else's meal (just one between two of us) and didn't seem to understand when we said it wasn't our order, just leaving it on our table and walking away. This was sorted out by our waitress, but then we noticed the same lady then give the table behind us their food (they arrived a good 15 minutes after we did). We didn't think too much of this until our waitress then walked by, took one look at their food, one look at our empty table and rolled her eyes. She must have worked some magic in the kitchen as we got our food less than 10 minutes later, but service clearly depends largely on who is serving you.
We both chose a Grand Thali which was a special offer that night as we were dining before 6.30pm - only £8.50 as opposed to about £10 normally. I chose a Chicken Mangalore which was full of flavour, the chicken was lovely and tender - not always the case in curry places! The thali arrives on a giant silver platter with the rice in the middle and small silver dishes containing the curry and all the side dishes. The side dishes are all named for you by your waiter when they are served so there's no wondering "what is this I'm eating?" The pea and spinach concoction was a particular hit with me. Portions are generous but not so much so that you end up uncomfortably full - even with a Grand Thali I still had room for ice cream (although to be honest, I can always make room for ice cream!)
Price wise this was one of the most reasonable meals out I've had in a long time - the total bill (including service) came in at £34 for two Grand Thalis, a beer, a glass of red wine, ice cream and a coffee - for central London, that really is great value! It was also a quick meal which is a great plus in my opinion - the main time I visit reasonably priced restaurants like Wagamama or Pizza Express is when I know that I have to have a quick meal, usually because I have to get to the theatre afterwards. This was the case here too and I was happy that we managed to have our meal in just over an hour, without it feeling at all rushed - the fact that with the Thali, starters are served with the main is great for this!
I would highly recommend Masala Zone for anyone looking for a quick and reasonably priced meal in London - it's not a special occasion restaurant, or fancy dining, but it's just good food at good prices.
The British Indian Cuisine Market is worth an estimated £3,2 billion, and to stand out in this market, you have to be unique and different.
Masala Zone is the casual dining arm of the Masala World group, who also own popular formal restaurants in London such as Veeraswamy. This arm was opened in 2001, and there are now 5 branches in London, located in Soho, Islington, Covent Garden, Earls Court and Camden Town. Two more branches are due to open in Fulham and Bayswater in 2009.
I visited the Masala Zone in Soho, but I have not been to any of the other branches as yet.
The restaurant is certainly different, and that is obvious from the moment you enter. The decor is not your usual Indian restaurant style, with kitsch pinks and golds, but is a more classy rusty red colour, with original artwork on the walls. It is on a sort of split level, and there are bench style seats that look out over the rest of the restaurant, as well as booth areas and tables. You can see the chefs at work behind a glass screen in the kitchen.
The service was friendly, without being too intrusive. It was fairly busy when I was there, but I never felt I had to wait too long for any request.
But it is really the food that makes Masala Zone a different sort of indan restaurant. Their aim is to bring Indian home cooking and street food straight to your table. They aim to serve food from all of the regions of India, and have chefs trained and skilled in various regional dishes. The menu is divided in "street food" and thalis. Street food refers to dishes such as samosas, or dahi puri, and are reminiscent of traditional savouries eaten on the streets of India. , Thalis are a selection of little dishes in bowls, on a stainless steel platter, and there are two varieties available. You have the "grand" thali, which includes a starter, chutney, poppadum, your choice of curry from the menu, two vegetables, dal, raita, salad, chapati and rice. The price for this anges from £9.95 to £10.70. The regular thali includes the papadum, chutney, curry, two vegetables, rice and dal from £7.80 to £8.25.
In a way the thali is a bit like Spanish tapas, giving you the opportunity to sample a variety of different dishes in one meal. The menu clearly indicates the spice level of all the dishes, by the addition of little chili's next to the name, to give you an indication whether it is from mild to extra spicy for the very brave, and I have to say they were spot on! I went for a moderately hot lamb curry, and it was exactly the right "heat". The flavour was rich, and intense, and definitley one of the better curries I have had so far. The thali is wonderfully balanced by the vegetables, and it leaves you satisfied, and I have to say quite full. I did not have space left for dessert, but there was a nice selection available, and seeing it on other people's plates around me, it did look delicious as well. The curry choices include standard favourites such as Rogan Josh, but there are various other more unique creations to choose from as well.
Apart from the thalis and street food, they also serve the curry choices with rice, and then surprisingly enough, they have noodle options! This is supposed to be a reflection of the influences South-East Asia has also had on modern day Indian food.
The restaurant also has a liqour licence, albeit a fairly small alcohol menu. Other more traditional drinks are also available, and of course nothing stops you from just having a Coke!
But the best bit have got to be the price! This is a really affordable meal on a night out, and you can easily eat and have a drink for around £15 per head....not bad for central London!
My only negative comment really is that I just did not like the dishes they use to serve the thalis on. In my humble opinion, the silver stainless steel platter and bowls just do not fit with the decor, and I felt something such as a nice copper dish would have looked much better.
All in all I had a really nice and enjoyable meal, and for me this was certainly one of those Indian restaurants I have been to, where I walked away satisfied. I will definitley not easily forget my meal here.....well at least not until the next time I go, and have an even nicer meal!