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Masala @ Mission Bay, Auckland

Mazedar is the Hindi word for ‘delicious’. And I am using this word to describe the delicious food we had at the restaurant ‘Masala’ in Mission Bay, Auckland.

We went for dinner last night to Masala, courtesy my in-laws. Always meant to test drive this place, but never got around to it. We decided to book a reservation in advance for a table with a view of the beach and of course in anticipation of the new year rush.

We were ushered to our table. Because we had read some past reviews about the delays in getting food served, we decided to order our entrée and main together and request them to bring it in stages. Ram and his father decided to sample the “Jaipur beer” which I am told was really good while his mom and I decided not to have any drinks.

For entrée we decided to go for onion bhaji and paneer tikka. I must say we were quite impressed with the onion bhaji. The paneer tikka’s masala could have been better. But they came out in the most gorgeous glass platter served with a mint chutney and yogurt mint chutney and the bhajia were served in a cute metal spiral stand accompanied by a tamarind sauce. Sometimes I think some restaurants let you down in terms of ambience and their choice of cutlery. But Masala appear to have made some wise choices and geared with a well stocked bar to their credit.

For the mains, we decided to try malai kofta, veg korma and veg jalfrazie. They were served with a complimentary accompaniment of rice. For the naans, we chose cheese, butter and a peshawari naan.

The malai kofta gravy was beautiful, but I wasn’t so happy with the texture of the koftas. They were rolled way too firmly for my liking. The veg korma was definitely passable, no wow factor there. And the jalfrazie was yummy. The colour and the flavours were quite different and rated the second best in mains. Another thing that impressed me was that most Indian restaurants especially abroad rip people off by using the same gravy base for all mains and just switch up the vegetables or meats. But you could actually taste the difference in each of these gravies. So good on you Masala for that.

Breads, now here’s something tricky. Cheese naan, well Ram was expecting a gooey cheesy naan, but to his surprise what they meant to serve was a paneer/cottage cheese naan. They should probably make that clearer on their menu. Butter naan was nice, light and fluffy. The peshawari naan again not so wow. Mixed nuts ground with raisins and coconut was definitely not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s probably that I have had better food back home and I am judging their food against those authentic greats!

Finally for dessert, one of the servers suggested that we try their newest addition on their menu the Malai kulfi. So to add variety to the fare we chose Malai kulfi, Mango kulfi and bread & butter pudding with kahlua liqueur. Verdict was Malai kulfi was the best and was as good as the servers promise. Mango kulfi was pretty average, the bread and butter pudding well not too shabby either.

Serving times were fairly quick for entrée and mains. There was a fair bit of delay for desserts but that can easily be justified after seeing the amount of effort that went on the presentation.

Service was very good. But for the fact that we had to call the hostess to come take our orders at the beginning, the rest of the service went down well, with the servers clearing up tables after each course and engaging in pleasantries, checking on our comfort, wiping down the table which we found a bit sticky, all done with a smile.

Before I forget pricing was very reasonable especially considering the suburb. And ambiance was surprisingly good as well. There is good scope to take things up a notch, but it’s up to them to build their brand to enter that league.

So overall I rate Masala with a ‘mazedar’ 3.75 stars on 5.

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