Masala Wok

Posted by on Aug 21, 2009 in Chinese, Indian, Indo-Chinese, North, Reviews
1100 Center Ridge Dr., Ste. #300
Austin, TX 78753
(512) 251-9696
Mon-Thu: 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm
Sun: 11am-10pm

There are times when a restaurant’s success can hinge on much more than good food, reasonable prices and a convenient location. The hidden variable can often be what I call pride of ownership. There’s a difference when you have an owner who is there, taking care of customers, putting a public face on the restaurant and one who is a part-time presence at best, simply dialing it in. Such is the case with Masala Wok at the Tech Ridge Center off N. IH 35. New owner Sanjay has put his personal imprimatur on this place, and Masala Wok is much better off for it.

Masala Wok is essentially a restaurant that fuses Indian and Chinese dishes into a style that’s known as Indo-Chinese. This trend began in Mombai where Chinese food is very popular and has spread out from there. Masala refers to a blending of spices and the wok part, well that’s self explanatory.

The appetizers at Masala Wok are unique and invariably very tasty. The Chicken Lollipops, unusual name notwithstanding, are tender and flat out tasty. The fiery morsels are coated in an intriguing batter and deep fried. Another fun appetizer is the Chicken 65. These are boneless cubes of chicken that are sautéed in a hot red sauce with curry leaves and green chilies. The flavor rush here is immediate and undeniable. Order it I also enjoyed the Chinese influenced Spring Rolls. I prefer the vegetable version of these crispy and most importantly, not at all oily rolls.

The entrees offer up substantial variety and a blend of usual but captivating flavors. The Blazing Masala Noodles is a great dish where the blend of Chinese and Indian is evident. The noodles are stir fried in a great sauce along with vegetables, and in my preference, Paneer. The more traditional Indian-styled Chicken Tikka Masala features chicken cubes marinated in yogurt and spices and then grilled and cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. This is one of the better versions of this dish that I’ve seen in the Austin area. Another very tasty and very healthy dish is the Dal Fry. This features lentils cooked with fragrant herbs, chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Terrific flavor here and a vegetarian’s dream come true. And stop the presses for the Tandori Chicken. This is absolutely the most tender and flavorful chicken that I’ve tasted. The wonderfully nuanced morsels of chicken just fall off the bone. And again, this is a very good-for-you kind of dish. What more could one ask for?

As noted earlier there is an owner here who cares deeply about this restaurant. And that has made a huge change for the better. He’s taken a fast-casual concept and made it feel like a little Mom and Pop bistro. And that really works for me.

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