Masala Bowl Sydney
- Date Visited: 25th of July, 2017
- Order: Railway Mutton Curry, Butter Chicken, Garlic Naan, Peshawari Naan, a large serve of Plain Rice, Mango Lassi/li>
- Final bill: $59.20 AUD
Located on Pitt Street on the opposite side of World Square, you can find a small humble Indian restaurant in the heart of Sydney CBD. As you enter the shop, you are presented with a simple room with minimal decoration, filled with aromatic Indian herbs and spices.
I was surprised that it was not packed on a Thursday night, however, as we progressed through the meals, more customers started coming in and the restaurant was slowly being filled. There was no music playing in the background and you could hear all the sounds from the kitchen and chattering between customers.
As the restaurant was not busy, service was not an issue. As we were seated, the menu was presented and the waiter asked us for our drink choice.
I have to admit, Indian cuisine is not my strongest point, but the waiter was happy to answer any questions I had about the items on the menu. Upon deciding on our course, the order was made and in approximately 10 minutes our food was brought to the table.
The service is normal for what you would find in small restaurants as this. If this is in peak hour, I would expect some delay for the service, which would be normal.
What can I say about the presentation, it has great colours from the curries which contrast fairly well with the white bowls and coloured plates. The Naan bread is presented in a woven basket showing off its crusty texture on the outside.
Overall the aesthetic of their presentation is very pleasing to the eye and provides a warm comforting feeling when you see the food spread on the wooden table.
In all honesty, I have probably been to 4 Indian restaurants here in Sydney. The majority of the time, I would just do take away from the food court, which for me already tastes good for what it is. For someone without prior knowledge or understanding what Indian cuisine is, I can only provide some feedback on my own personal experience and taste.
Butter chicken, the go-to choice of curry for anyone who hasn’t the slightest idea of what to try in an Indian restaurant. I personally love butter chicken and have had my fair share of both food court Indian takeaway and restaurant. So far my favourite butter chicken is still the butter chicken served at Coach Bar in the GPO, but that review is for another time. Here at Masala Bowl Sydney, you will find a fairly mild aromatic butter chicken with a pretty generous serving which can be shared between two people with some naan. Compared to Coach Bar or the Spice Room, which is recently another favourite of mine, the chicken feels like it has not been simmering or marinated long enough in the curry to capture the herbs and spices into the meat. If you eat a small piece of chicken with the curry, then it’s fine and you still have the flavour as you chew the chicken. However, you take a larger piece of chicken, you start feeling tasting just the chicken and the curry spices are slowly diminishing away. Other than that, the curry itself is lovely which goes very well with the basmati rice or naan.
Now onto the railway mutton. This was never a choice of mine when faced with a menu filled with Indian cuisine. It was not only until recently that I had tried this dish at The Spice Room that I realized how amazing goat and curry can meld together. As such, I was tempted to test my luck at Masala Bowl Sydney and to my disappointment, it did not live to my expectation which I had in mind from The Spice Room. This really got me wondering, which one is more authentic and tastes closer to what they would serve in India? I would assume there may be variations of this depending on location as well.
What I found at Masala Bowl Sydney is that the mutton is chewier and does not melt in your mouth. The curry itself is a bit hotter and offer a stronger curry aroma and less buttery. Either way, I really liked this with the Peshawari naan which balanced out the strong flavour in this curry, whereas the rice or garlic naan was just overpowered by the railway mutton.
Both naans were made very well with very nice crispy parts on the outside and still have that softness in the centre. Perfectly seasoned and flavoured which complimented the curries well.
You can expect to pay anything from $18 to $22 AUD for a main in Masala Bowl Sydney which for the portion they provide and considering that they are right in the CBD, it is fairly priced. Perhaps it would be nicer if the naan or rice was part of the curry rather than needing to pay extra $3-$5 AUD for the Naan itself, then I would say for sure there is value in the main.
Additionally, you can definitely a main between 2 people with the order of naan and rice, so that would make it ideal and you can try multiple items.
From a viewpoint of what I have tried and compared to the Indian food I have experienced previously, I would say this place is worth a try. As mentioned earlier, some dishes taste different to other places, I would assume due to a different region in India which has an influence on the variation of style. As a lunch or after work catch up with friends, it is a plausible place to visit.
Whilst I was in the restaurant, I saw there was an option for different choices of curries and naan/rice combination. I would recommend going for that if you cannot decide. And as always, whenever in doubt, revert to the good ol’ butter chicken!