MASALA THEORY is an Indian restaurant located in Surry Hills that has transformed everything you will know about Indian restaurants in Sydney. It will make my top ten dining experiences of 2017 and I can’t wait to take my parents to visit this wonderful colourful art gallery of a restaurant.
THE KALEIDOSCOPE THAT IS THE MASALA THEORY VENUE:
Located in the venue that was once Red Lantern, and then Pork’d, Masala Theory has been transformed into a modern Indian gallery kaleidoscope of culinary joy. Every wall, every corner, every nook and cranny has something incredible to look at and from the moment I walked up the stairs off Crown St I was mesmerised. It’s Bollywood meets gangster styled Disney-coloured decor with distressed walls that all look like Melbourne street art and cost the venue a small fortune to have created. It doesn’t belong to one cultural section of India and they are calling the venue Neo-Indian.
It is perfect for entire families because it isn’t boring traditional looking and it doesn’t have the more formal setting of a lot of Indian restaurants. Think new India blended with traditional and crafted with creative flair. Owner Yashpal Erda has created an Instagram Porn Indian Restaurant. It is comfortable and fun and if I lived back in Slurry this would be a regular hang out for me, even if was simply for the bubble gum lassi and a book read.
TURNING THE PUBLIC’S EXPECTATIONS OF INDIAN FOOD ON ITS HEAD:
Like the venue the food at Masala Theory is a blending of new and traditional served like Instagram food art. The flavours may all be traditional but the presentation is for the modern eater. Prawntinis, stacked towers of spinach, deconstructed samosas and curries served in hollowed out loaves of bread are a small example of the treats awaiting.
They offer a selection of banquets starting for a minimum of two people and have plenty of food to cater to the vegetarian. I am unsure about gluten free as nothing listed on the menu so check with the venue first.
There was a specials menu when we attended but this is not listed on the website – make sure to check for it as a few of my fave dishes were on that specials list – the same can be said for desserts.
WHAT WE ORDERED (entrees and mains):
For our entrees and mains Yashpal Erda suggested and then ordered everything for us. On the night we attended the prawntini wasn’t available or we would have also had that in our selection.
- Three Sister’s Chaat – crispy-fried English spinach, garbanzo beans, sweetened yoghurt, date tamarind chutney and mint chutney
- Beetroot Poriyal – beetroot, mustard seeds, chillies, lentils and coconut
- Paneer-Stuffed Dal Chilla – split green lentil crepes, Indian cottage cheese, spinach, onion, raisins, cashews and tomato chutney
- Butter Chicken – needs no explanation 🙂
- Salli Boti – Chef’s Special Goat Curry – Chef’s special goat curry, black cardamon, cinnamon, onion tomato gravy, match-stick potatoes
WHAT WE THOUGHT OF THE SAVOURY DISHES:
Our introduction to the menu was the three tower spinach dish, Three Sisters Chaat. While it was all spinach this is more about the yoghurt and chutneys. It was sweet and flavoursome and intensely moorish. Put that down to the level of sweet in the dish. The beetroot was a divine side dish – the coconut and raisins was a perfect addition and something I have added to beetroot dishes at home since this visit. From the menu I would never have selected the Paneer-Stuffed Dal Chilla but I am so glad it was ordered for us. An absolutely delicious cheesy treat that was perfect between the entrees and mains.
Now big call – Masala Theory’s Butter Chicken is the best I have ever had. Nuanced, balanced, bloody delicious and miles above the common food-court dish most people would have eaten. I will order this on every visit to Masala Theory in the future. The goat curry was the perfect follow up to the butter chicken and while the goat is the hero it was the crunch and addition of the matchstick ships that won it over for me. Something I have never seen in an Indian dish before – this is sure to be a patron favourite.
And of course no matter how stuffed you are from all that preceded dessert is a MUST. The menu of the night had a Smoked Beetroot and Buttermilk Panna Cotta I was desperate to devour but sadly this was unavailable. I wasn’t disappointed for very long as they were serving a Chai Panna Cotta withith Nut Praline And Cinnamon Glass instead – it was divine. Exactly what you want in an Indian dessert, beautifully spiced and simple yet exotic. We had this with the Paan Kulfi – this was a creamy Indian ice cream flavoured with betel nut leaves. It was marvellous alternate to ice-cream and a fantastic end to the meal.
MASALA THEORY is easily my current favourite Indian restaurant in Sydney. Even if the food was crap I would love it for the interior kaleidoscope of colours and modern Indian art. As luck would have it the food is as good as the walls. Huge thanks to Yashpal Erda and all the staff for making this experience so delightful and thanks to CoCreate Communications for organising the visit.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
Masala Theory Deets:
PH: (02) 9699 9444
545 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Mon – Wed: 6 – 10pm
Thurs & Sun: 12 – 3pm & 6 -10pm
Fri & Sat: 12 – 3pm & 6 -10.30pm
BAR: Non-Alcoholic but delicious Beer and you can BYO for your own beer and wine with a $5- per head corkage
LOCAL DELIVERY: Yes
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Check with venue
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***