Sunday, August 07, 2005
I remember the anguish-filled days after I found out it was opening here. Indian-Chinese food. In. Austin. (Chili chicken at Shalimar doesn't count). Finally.
I went to Masala Wok on its opening day, and it was totally packed. That was about 4 months ago, and the crowds are still huge.
The verdict? Hit or miss food, for me personally, but if you know what to order, you should be VERY happy. Service is what you would expect from kind-of-like-fast-food (it's a chain, albeit with only about 4 locations). The people behind the counter know very little about the cuisine. But don't worry about that for now. It's definitely worth AT LEAST a trip or two, *especially* if you eat chicken, as the Chicken Tikka Masala is universally fawned over by my non-veg friends.
Alas, avoid anything but the entrees. Everything else (appetizers, desserts, tea) seems like it's from a box. Tea/coffee will often be watered down or cold. (meat-eaters liked the Chicken Lollipops, though) (the name makes no sense... at least to me) (there's no lollipop anywhere)
The menu has two sections, "Wok" and "Masala". The Wok ones are the Indian-Chinese food. Now the the novelty has worn off, I have to say that the Masala (i.e. normal Indian food) entrees are king here. Here is a breakdown of most of the vegetarian items the menu: (Yes... Obsessively, I have tried all of these. Yes.. Masala Wok is far away from me. Don't know what to say)
Spinach Masala (w/ paneer): My favorite item here. In normal Indian cuisine parlance, it's palak paneer. Pretty darn good, the times I've had it. Not as good as the one Shalimar used to have... but still, get it!
Paneer Butter Masala: Second favorite Masala item. Nice creamy sauce... somewhat close to the sauce in the Chicken Tikka Masala, supposedly. Update: Well... actually... the creamy sauce is perhaps much like the Chicken Tikka Masala sauce, except without the tomato.
Dal Fry: Average. Just dal in a tomatoey sauce. Nothing special. Dal should be cheaper, anyway.
Malai Kofta: Veggie balls in sauce... Not sure how else to describe. Pretty darn decent when I had it. I'll have this one again for the next trip.
Chole Masala. See my Dal Fry comment. This is better than that, though.
Veggie Manchuria: Yeah this is great! More veggie balls, except these are different and in a "Manchurian" sauce. Somewhat reminiscent of the Lucky 7 at Veggie Heaven, but only somewhat. Good intro to the Wok menu.
Masala Wok Spicy: Just tasted like generic American Chinese food to me. Except with paneer. And not enough of it. Blah.
Chili Paneer: Ok. This is the one that was supposed to be the killer. Well... it's really not. Not enough paneer again, that's for sure. The Chili Paneer at Rushi is WAY better, anyway. Basically it's (a bit of) paneer in a chili sauce.
Ginger Masala: Ugh... Why did I even bother with this? I usually like ginger, but.... not this time.
Blazing Masala Noodles: See Masala Wok Spicy.
Allllrighty.. hope this was informative. Something else: the deals are much better with the Masala dishes, as they give you naan in addition to rice, to eat with your entree. With the Wok dishes, you get only rice or noodles. That plus the strange paneer-amount problem in the Wok dishes.... really only the Veggie Manchuria is worth eating from the Wok menu. Strange.
Oh yeah... the music's good here! (from the speakers, not the TV)
So that's it.... Lots of stuff here you may or may not like, but certainly a good set of things to at least get you there a few times.. probably way more. Enjoy! (hopefully)