Ever since September, I’ve been on a serious Indian food kick, thanks to having procured a copy of Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey. I was inspired to buy the book partly because I love the cuisine but also because I felt it wasn’t cost effective (or particularly healthy) for me to perpetually order from my go-to Indian restaurant, Crown of India. Don’t get me wrong: Crown is delicious, and it comes with the added cachet of being located a block away from Tranny Central (Highland and Santa Monica, to be specific). However, I can’t be dropping $20 every time I get a craving for Indian food, which is quite often.
That being said, I don’t always want to whip up my own Indian feast at home. Yes, it’s fun and healthier, but it’s not a speedy process. If only there were some middle ground: a cheap, fast, healthy Indian alternative in my life… Enter Urban Masala, a new fast-casual Indian spot right in the heart of Hollywood. In a neighborhood dominated by Mexican and Thai restaurants, it’s nice to see an Indian eatery sprout up (especially given that it’s open until 3 AM on weekends: SWOON!).
But does Urban Masala stack up? Luckily I was invited to a media-comped meal to find out. Pictures after the jump…
The design of the space is airy and sleek. Hence, the “urban” of Urban Masala. (And I suppose the orange walls speak of the hues of Masala. It all makes sense now!)
In the windows facing Hollywood Boulevard are two large tandoors. This looks promising.
Diners are faced with a variety of tubs and bins — sort of like what one might find at Subway. This might be a turn-off to those who don’t like to think of their curries as sitting around in a case, but I can assure you it was not a problem.
The space is clean and well-kept, which is always an encouraging sign.
The first thing we try are the samosas. I love me a samosa. Unfortunately, these were dry. Not a great way to start off the meal.
On the plus side, the samosas come with a yogurt sauce of some sort, and it’s totally tasty. Great for dipping naan into.
The curries by and large are actually very tasty. As good and as rich as Crown of India’s? Not quite, but on the plus side, we’re told the restaurant uses cream in only a few scant dishes and everything is made from a health-conscious perspective. So that’s good. And honestly, given the prices (ie. cheap), the quality is quite good.
Can’t go wrong with naan, especially garlic naan.
Indian soda. It’s basically like Mexican Coke. Sweet and cola-y.
Soon my plate is a mish-mash of various curries. I can’t even tell you which one is which.
I believe this was lamb. I remember really liking it. So when you go and order, just look for the curry that looks like this… (helpful, I know).
Saag paneer. A classic. Also nicely done.
An empty bowl of masala.
The unfortunate part of Indian food is that it can often appear very unphotogenic. Trust me though that this mess was actually super tasty.
Here we go. Much prettier.
Clearly, I enjoyed myself.
The dessert offerings consist of rice pudding and something called “gulab jamun,” which are basically dough balls in a sweet syrup. Both nice, but it’s the entrees that shine, not the desserts (or the samosas).
Now here’s the fun part. For $8.95 diners can receive two entrees, Basmati rice, naan, and a salad. Talk about a great deal. And did I mention that Urban Masala is open until 3 AM on weekends? I did? Okay, well, then I’m sold. Tasty, cheap Indian fare available when the bars close = something I am more than happy to embrace.
6554 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028