Masala Zone’s Covent Garden branch does the name proud with its fantastically filling dishes.
Masala Zone’s location in Covent Garden’s Floral Street means it’s close enough to all the major sights but suitably off the beaten track to keep the tourists away. The interior is decorated with large fish-eye mirrors and a host of glittery, colourful puppets hanging from the ceiling. The puppets represent a traditional Indian wedding ceremony, with the bride and groom in the southwest corner of the restaurant being greeted by a host of wedding guests and entertainers. Ones to watch out for include headless dancers and an array of camels.
There’s a convivial atmosphere about Masala Zone, partially due to the celebrating puppets but mostly thanks to the food and the prices. It would make quite a good location for a large group. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and make good recommendations.
Masala Zone’s other branches are known for their big portions, low prices and authentic meals, and this one is no exception. To sample the best of what the restaurant has to offer, the thalis – an enormous platter including a curry, vegetable sides and chutneys – are what to get. The butter chicken curry is sumptuously rich and perfectly spiced; although most of the pieces are deliciously tender, there is the odd pieces that's not of such a high quality. The sides change daily, but if one of the choices is peas and aubergine mixed with a rich tomato sauce, don’t pass it up. With the thali you also get a large dollop of rice, a crisp poppadom and a fluffy chapatti to scoop up all the dishes. The lighter ayurvedic thalis provide all the taste but none of the overly-full feeling you can sometimes get with too much Indian food.
To cool the spiciness of the food try a fruity lassi or a chaas (a lighter, fat-free version of a lassi made with coriander leaves and cumin seeds). There are only a few wines listed, but they’re all quite affordable and most are available by the glass as well, the most expensive being an Australian Chardonnay at just about £15.00.
The Last Word
A nice escape from the tourist trap restaurants in Covent Garden with cool decor and great food. Make sure you come with an empty stomach.