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Review: Masala Theory, Surry Hills

Eat, Restaurants, Sydney / August 12, 2020

Discover Masala Theory, the delicious neo-Indian dining spot in the heart of Surry Hills.

Surry Hills has been a persevering foodie destination and cultural hub over the past 10 years but especially the last few months. Masala Theory on Crown Street is an accumulation of those two things, delivering delicious food in a quirky setting. The entrance has a huge mural of iconic Indian objects in bright colours, boasting a “Neo-Indian” theme that carries through the whole venue and the menu.

There’s definitely some authentic items found on the menu, but you’ll find more modern takes on regional dishes from all over India. What we love is that Masala Theory caters to vegetarians, meat-eaters, vegans and even kids. There are inventive cocktails and an extensive drinks list, but what we really want to talk about is the food.

We started with the most popular dish on the menu: Chicken Curry Bombs ($16.9). They’re similar to the traditional street food Pani Puri, which is a fried puffed up ball, usually filled with masala veggies and chutney. The Masala Theory take is just as delicious, filled with chicken or veggies, and topped with butter chicken sauce. Definitely tailored to an Aussie-style Indian restaurant.

We tried the Basil Chicken Tikka ($16.9), which was the alternative to the normal Chicken Tikka on the menu. Masala Theory has cooked it on the grill and it’s topped with red onions, served with a chutney and turmeric aioli. The chicken had a nice char and the basil flavour wasn’t too strong which made this a pleasant entrée. We also tried the Prawntini Bhel ($17.9), which is fried prawns sitting on Bhel which is puffed rice, coated in a light tamarind chutney, with red onions, tomato and coriander. Although it’s not usually seen on traditional Indians menus, it was nice but not something we would order again.

For mains, we tried the Moilee Curry Barramundi ($29.9) sitting on string hoppers, which are like vermicelli noodles. The curry was delicious and flavoursome and the barramundi was cooked perfectly. Not many Indian curries feature coconut but this was warmly welcomed with pomegranate scattered on top to cut through the richness. We also tried the Mango Smoked Tandoori Lamb Chops (4 for $29.9), which are marinated overnight in mango salsa, spices, ginger and garlic. These were cooked to perfection, charred on the outside and served with generous mango salsa on the side. We picked these up and ate them with our hands, as we didn’t want to leave any lamb behind, delicious.

You’ll find many other delicious curries on the menu, ranging from Butter Chicken to Salli Boti Goat, Loyola Prawns and also lamb curry. Vegetarians are well looked after with a range of dishes, like dhal ($18.9), a smoked eggplant dish ($23.9), Chole Bhatura ($24.9), which is spiced chickpeas and many more traditional dishes. You’ll find naan bread and rotis, pappadums, rice dishes and a very fun kids menu to make this a very family-friendly venue.

For dessert, we highly recommend the Paan Kulfi ($14), which has very traditional flavours. The dessert is not very sweet and traditionally would be wrapped up in a betel leaf, but this has been reinvented in a fantastic way, by making a kulfi ice cream of the flavour. Masala Theory has created a wonderful and nostalgic way to end the meal.

Masala Theory is Covid-safe and has staff wearing masks for precaution. We were warmly welcomed by the attentive staff and enjoyed the theme that the restaurant had, with upbeat music and very modern and bright interiors.

Find Masala Theory at 545 Crown Street Surry Hills, open for lunch Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm and for dinner Sunday to Thursday 5pm to 10:15pm and Friday to Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. To find out more or book your spot, click here. 

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