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Masala Zone

9 Marshall Street , Soho, London , England, W1F 7EJ, United Kingdom

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Masala Zone is the casual dining offshoot of the little restaurant empire than includes Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veerswamy. From the initial branch in Marshall Street the Masala Zone brand has grown to half a dozen outlets around London at the time of writing.

Aloo tikki chat had tender chickpeas and reasonable spicing, and although nothing remarkable it was entirely competent (11/20). Popadoms, however, tasted stale – which is odd given the turnover that they must have, but these were by no means crisp (10/20). My Mangalore chicken curry was pleasant, the chicken correctly cooked and the coriander in the dish tasting fresh (11/20). Naan bread was actually quite good, if a little on the doughy side, but I have eaten much worse naans than this (11/20). I was also genuinely surprised by a side dish of okra that was quite capably cooked – okra easily becomes slimy, and even some quite good Indian restaurants struggle to get this right, but the version here was fine (12/20).  Rice was rather clumpy in texture, however (10/20).

A solitary gulam jaman for dessert was reasonable, and though the bread-based mix inside was a little heavy, it was at least moist; it was a little incongruous seeing this with vanilla ice cream, but although over-sweet this did at least use real vanilla (11/20). Service was efficient, and given the rapid turnover of tables the waiters managed to be surprisingly friendly. For £18 a head we ate three courses, which is not bad. Of course this is not fine dining, but I found the standard of the cooking to be entirely acceptable, and it would shame plenty of high street restaurants.

 

Further reviews: 01st May 2001

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  • Kabir

    Masala Zone is the bare minimum I expect from Indian food. For starters it’s real Indian, NOT Bangladeshi, food and is definitely better than the average curry house. I do agree about the quantity of meat served not being sufficient but I think that it's probably the best value for money as far as London goes. For about £15/person, you can get a decent meal with fairly good ingredients. Not too bad for a city where anything of a certain standard starts at well over £30/person. I think Andy's ratings, like those of most Western food critics are bias against Indian and most Asian (except Japanese) cuisine in general. It's funny how they enjoy eating the food but will never give it a high rating because they think it would lower their credibility as food critics :). Andy - Can you honestly tell me that both Peshawari and Jamavar don’t deserve a higher rating? Anyway, I think you have to keep ratings in perspective. As far as a quick, casual lunch in the city of London goes, this is a pretty good option. 3/10.

  • Andy Hayler

    The rating system is the one use by the Good Food Guide, and I appreciate that it can seem a bit hard if you are not familiar with it - 1/10 is actually a positive score: most restaurants out there are 0/10, though obviously I try and avoid as many of these as I can. The main reason that I don't score places like Jamavar higher than I do is twofold: presentation is cursory (compare to serious French places), and above all the ingredient quality used in Indian restaurants is generally very low. I have spoken to some chefs in India and they freely acknowledge the difficulty in getting genuinely high quality poultry, for example. I love Indian food, and I am just waiting for a place to open up that combines a skilled chef with high grade ingredients, attractive presentation and skilled cooking of Indian food. When I find that place, you can be sure that I will give it a high mark.

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