Masala Bowl in Tustin Ain't So Hot

I'm not usually the type to complain about aesthetics when it comes to food... Things tend to look a hell of a lot worse going out than they do going in, so as long as the food is tasty, reasonably presented and doesn't send me running for the toilet in half an hour, I'm generally satisfied.

What does bother me is being let down by 24 out of 29 reviewers on Yelp and mislead by a snazzy website that had me thinking that I'd actually be eating off a non-disposable dish--which turned out to be the case at Masala Bowl in Tustin.

I have to admit that I'm a bit spoiled after having lived within walking distance to Vik's Chaat Corner for a number of years, but even by Orange County standards four stars is an overly-generous rating to give a place that makes you pay over $6.50 for a vegetarian dish, wait 20 minutes for it and leaves you going, "Meh," after you've finished what ultimately ends up being a $12 take-out order (including purchase of a drink and side).

Aside from this initial letdown, the food is conveniently packaged (as it should be for what seems be a take-out-centric establishment) and fills the belly.

Read on to see the actual presentation the andhra masala and other dishes!

Actual Andhra Masala Bowl
Actual Andhra Masala Bowl
Grace Le
You say, "Masala," I say, "Delicious!"-- Well, this is generally how it goes with Indian cuisine, but even with an emphasis on making the dish a 10-out-of-10 on the spiciness scale, the andhra masala fell short. Priced at $6.49, this curry, supposedly cooked with coconut and chilies was neither rich nor all that hot. The spice blend was decent, but there was nothing particularly memorable about it. The flimsy plastic bowl it is served in also makes it particularly difficult to attack with naan.
Garlic Naan
Garlic Naan
Grace Le

Fluffy and crisp along the edges, the garlic naan could use more garlic, but is pretty decent in terms of quality. The way it's cut into long strips is a bit awkward and leads you to feel it should be dipped into your food rather than used to scoop it up. $2.49 is also a little steep for the amount you end up getting.
Samosa
Samosa
Grace Le

The samosas came out the best purchase. Ringing in at $2.99, you get two decently-sized samosas fried to flaky perfection upon order. The potatoes are well-seasoned, subtly spicy and include kernels of corn that make for an interesting texture.

If you're looking for a homey sit-down experience, Masala Bowl may not be the place to go. Its listing on Google and Yelp curiously have it labeled as a "cafe," when the actual establishment is more of a small food-to-go with a few chairs and tables lining its cramped quarters. If you're looking for a simple place to get decent carry out, then Masala Bowl might have what you're looking for, but it isn't going to be cheap.


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