Masala Art @ Washington DC

Indian cuisine has never really provided me with a friendly after-service. I almost always end up releasing most of what I’ve eaten in an unglam manner at the washroom. Yet i still don’t shy away from it no matter how many times I’ve diarrhea after my Indian meals. It’s as though there’s a certain charm to these chicken tikka and curry fish dishes that brainwash you to accept the vicious cycle of alternating enjoyment and torture. But that’s life isn’t it, we almost always shift in between optimism and despair all the time. Here, optimism of having the hope that my body will get used to this cuisine someday; despair when time and again I get proven wrong. A Chinese saying that goes “人是犯贱的” is pretty apt in this case.

The aroma of spices overwhelmed us every time we walked past this restaurant on our way back to our AirBnb. The signboard that writes $5 for drinks during happy hours makes Masala Art even more irresistible. We had to try it some day. It’s a must. And so, on our last night in Washington DC, we made our way to “little India”.

Walking in, we were greeted by some friendly dude that showed us to the table. Apart from service, what strikes me the most was the beautiful decor they have inside. Beauty is found from its simplicity. White table cloths on neatly arranged tables, each with a candle stand, coupled with a few art pieces on the walls prepare diners for a casually romantic meal that feels like fine dining but isn’t at all.

A pretty normal Indian menu at first glance. You get Naan, various curry dishes in different meats / fish, a selection of creamy spinach (you either love or hate it, there’s no in between for this), lamb dishes, briyani, noodles and etc. Check out the menu here.

As we were pretty stuffed, we didn’t dare to over order again. Problem with holidays is that, you just wanna eat and try everything in the world. F*** those calories that you think you can burn them off easily (not true but let’s brush that aside for now).

So my awesome ROOMIE ( if you ever read this post, please like it HAHA) did the research and I nodded to everything she suggested. Fish curry, checked; chicken tikka, checked; roasted brinjal, checked. Curry dishes come who steam rice. Brilliant. We are all prepared for the night.

Ta-da!!!!! Food is here. Omg it smells so good. Pardon me for the less than perfect photos. Thing about curry is that they aren’t photogenic, hardly ever, but it can never really go wrong. Life lesson learnt: don’t judge curry by its cover (Rule#1). Dig to find out the beauty beneath.

Let’s take a sip for QC. Ooolala, pretty good aye. But slightly spicy, for my standards. I thought they would tone down the level of hotness like how they usually do in UK Indian restaurants, but they didn’t at Masala Art. Nevertheless, the rich and creamy chicken curry goes well with the steamed rice. The chicken was well cooked, chewy tender and succulent. They probably cooked it for a substantial period of time since the chicken had absorbed the flavors well.

The journey to diarrhea making continues.

Next up, fish curry. Even though the photo does it no justice, I know the two dishes look exactly the same, refer back to Rule #1. This curry is slightly sweeter, more watery and less spicy. It has subtle taste of coconut milk in it if you “swivel” the curry in your mouth for a while like how we do to wine. The fish was soft, it melts in your mouth actually. No bones, safe for consumption.

Moving on. The Brinjal awaits. Roasted brinjal they call it, but it hardly tastes roasted at all. I was expecting a dish with full slices of brinjal actually. But it turns out nothing like that. The brinjal was almost non-existent, you can’t actually see it at all. Maybe it’s just me. My friend thinks it tastes like curry crab sauce. A little. It’s mashed with tomatoes, onions and some spices, creating something like a spicy tomato chutney. Although the initial taste is spicy, a little sweetness follows almost immediately. Life lesson learnt again? Sweetness can only be felt truly after some sort of suffering (going through the spicy phase first).

If you’re wondering, the top squarish dish is the fish, while the bottom one is the chicken tikka. That lonely bowl that rests in the middle is the brinjal.

If I were to rate this restaurant, I would give it a 4/5, easily. Not only does the restaurant look and feel clean, the ambience is also really good for quiet and casual dates. No fuss about dressing up in smart casual or those so-called dress codes that are brutally enforced by fine dining places. Will I return? Maybe if I always go to D.C, otherwise, I would save my calorie count for other cuisines.

Feeling pretty satisfied and more than prepared for my diarrhoea party.

Tikka-ing away with a Naan.


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