Nestled on the bustling Crown street in Surry Hills, Masala Theory aims to re-invent classic Indian flavours for its patrons. It has a welcome feel to it and the traditional Indian wall art, brass tables and tableware, quotes from famous Indian movies and colourful walls help transport you to a fanciful world, filled with exotic food even if only for a measly couple of hours.
Everyone knows what is in a standard Indian food menu now, the butter chicken is a staple across the world. Making really good butter chicken is now expected of any quality Indian restaurant. Like Cubby's Kitchen down the road, who have introduced Japanese flavours into Lebanese cuisine, it is time to re-invent or unlock the flavours of regions the world has not witnessed.
I love a good twist to Indian food and love it even more when restaurants go that extra mile to find recipes away from what has been routinely popularized as Indian food. Having eaten Indian food for a large part of my life, I do know for sure that a lot of dishes from the subcontinent go untapped and unnoticed because they aren't qualified as restaurant food. Masala Theory really caught my attention with the Parsi flavours in their dishes. See their menu here to be the judge for yourself.
After being promptly seated I took some time to admire the casual setup. Pink, blue, yellow and green dominated the walls. Paintings, pictures and famous movie dialogues found their place on the unpainted walls and the vibe was cosy and casual. It's BYO and they have a bottle shop nearby, so we grabbed ourselves a bottle and settled in. We were hugely tempted to order their banquet, King of the Ring, which was recently introduced into their menu and was highly recommended by their staff. However, we decided to stick to the basics as it was our first visit (and we knew this is not going to be our last).
All important Samosa chaat - in Masala Theory style
We ordered their Curry Bomb, the Samosa Chaat (Indian street food) and Vada Pav and the exotic looking food swiftly started arriving on the table. On their recommendation, Tameta Par Eedu, a Parsi dish, made it to our table. I could go on and on about the Vada pav at Masala Theory, but I think you'll get the gist. Vada Pav is the humble Indian cousin of a burger. A fried potato patty in the middle of 2 white buns served with a chutney is one of the most comforting Indian street foods (popularised in Mumbai). It is already such good food, that I thought there's nothing anyone could do better than just put all the ingredients together. However Masala Theory has proved me wrong. The charcoal black buns with sesame add the wow factor to the dish. The potato filling was fresh and tasty and the friend green chilli on the side was inviting the customer to go for a dare. The whole dish was so well presented that I took the chilli challenge and to my surprise, (read disappointment) halfway through the chilli I turned pink and red. The staff immediately got us some cold rose water in what looked like a shot glass, which instantly calmed down the chilli and helped us enjoy the rest of our meal.
Curry bomb - a unique new invention at Masala Theory
The staff are very attentive and always ready to lend us a helping hand, whether it be help in choosing from the inventive menu or help when they saw us turn red after biting into a spicy green chilli. We surely needed help on both grounds. I briefly chatted to the manager who explained that the Parsi dishes on the menu are courtesy of their owner Yashpal Erda's Parsi heritage. In only 7 months of being around, Masala Theory has quickly shot up Sydney's food scene. It is most definitely Instagrammable (I think that goes without saying), the Neo Indian food brings a fresh take on the much loved Indian food and their staff and service is faultless. You'd surely be paying a little more than the average meal price, but hey, this is no average restaurant.