SERVING FAST & CASUAL INDIAN CUISINE IN HOLLYWOOD
Located in the heart of Hollywood Boulevard, Urban Masala is the latest fast casual concept on the block, offering a refreshing dining destination. With the combination of its chic décor, hip nighttime vibe (think nonstop dance music) and delectable yet approachable take on modern Indian fare, Urban Masala is quickly becoming a destination of choice for Angelenos and visitors alike—from lunching locals and nightlife hipsters to foodies and stylish tourists.
Indian cooking takes an inventive turn at Urban Masala with bowls, plates, and even wraps of flavor-filled favorites such as Chicken Tikka Masala, marinated baked chicken served in a tomato based sauce; Lamb Curry; Aaloo Gobhi, made with potatoes, cauliflower and Indian spices; Chana Masala, northern Indian chickpea stew with tomatoes; and Saag Paneer, spinach with housemade cheese. Delectable side dishes include housemade Samosas and Garlic or Regular Naan, while those with a sweet tooth can indulge with Gulab Jamun, an Indian version of warm donuts floating in warm sweet syrup, and Rice Pudding.
During my recent visit, I opted for the veggie menu items, but I must say the meat options were also a hit at the table. At Urban Masala Fresh Indian Grill, orders come in the form of a Masala Bowl (one entrée with Basmati rice) for $5.95; a Bombay Plate (2 entrees with Basmati rice, Naan, and a salad) for $8.95; and the inventive Naan Roll, which includes one item rolled in a freshly baked naan bread served with Raita (yogurt used as a sauce or dip) for $6.95.
We started with an order of Samosas, perhaps the most popular vegetarian Indian appetizer. If you’re not familiar with a samosa, think of a pastry such as a fried empanada with spicy boiled potato stuffing inside crispy flour dough served with spicy chutney. An order of Garlic Naan was also a must, as I just love to dip bread in any kind of sauce or curry.
Up first was the Paneer Tikka Masala, a gourmet dish that is simple to cook yet extremely flavorful. With its tangy flavor, this was an excellent choice. While the Chicken Tikka Masala is a far more popular plate, and everyone at the table loved it, as I said, I decided to go for the vegetarian dishes this night and was not disappointed.
The Aloo Gobi dish is made with potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gob(h)i) and Indian spices. It is yellowish in color due to the use of turmeric, and occasionally contains kalonji and curry leaves. It’s also perfect to roll in naan and eat as a wrap.
The Saag Tofu is a variation of an Indian classic (Saag Paneer, which comes with cheese). Here, tofu was substituted for cheese, and the saag, or spinach, was very tasty.
If you’re a fan of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, then definitely order the Chana Masala. This is a great source of protein; so don’t be fooled to think you must eat meat to get protein. This also goes well with naan or with the Basmati rice.
Curiosity got the better of me and I had to order a Naan Roll to go for lunch the following day. Served as a wrap using naan, these are great for anyone in need of a quick bite. I had the Paneer Tikka roll served with Raita on the side and savored every bite.
And don’t forget about dessert, as the Gulab Jamun (donuts floating in syrup) and Rice Pudding are both fantastic. I always choose the Rice Pudding when eating Indian but I must say, the Gulab Jamun was one of the tastiest things I’ve had in quite a while.
Rest assured, all the dishes at Urban Masala are extremely flavorful. Everything is spiced just right and nothing is too overwhelming or hot to the taste. If you’re eating with friends or family, definitely eat family-style and share plates so you can try as many dishes as possible as the orders are fairly sizable.
The design of Urban Masala references a uniquely urban atmosphere. And its late night weekend hours, open until 3 a.m. Thursday – Saturday, is perfect for club-goers in need of substance after a night of dancing and debauchery. Located across the street from Supperclub and walking distance from Playhouse, there’s no need to stop the party early. Urban Masala will also soon be serving beer and wine.
Urban Masala is located at 6554 Hollywood Blvd. Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Call 323-957-9999.