Something fantastic that sets ethnic foods apart from typical American fare is the unique use of spices and different flavor combinations. No one country showcases this understanding and celebration of taste and spice better than India. Jacksonville has had several Indian restaurants come and go over the years, but one that deserves to stick around is Masala Indian Cuisine. Masala is located in Mandarin, ironically in the same storefront that previously housed two other tasty Indian restaurants: India Gate and Cilantro. I guess this shop is just destined to house excellent Indian cooking forever.
A tell tale sign of great Indian food is that when you walk in the door, you get the impression that a spice market is somewhere in the general vicinity. Masala is actually a term used to describe a mix of spices, making it the perfect name for this restaurant. When entering Masala, you are bathed in both delicious scents and bright colors, welcoming you to a little piece of India. The service is outstanding, and the wait staff is always there with whatever you may need. They also have semi-private dining booths, making it the perfect spot for a date or just a fun dining experience!
Dinner items at Masala are quite varied, with each showcasing a different flavor or Indian cooking style. Favorites on the spicy side include both the Chicken Curry ($12) and Chicken Vindaloo ($12). These dishes can be made mild or hot, but keep in mind that even mild is a little spicy and hot is similar to fire. An awesome option that is low on the heat is the Lamb Biryani ($13). Lamb can be a very strong meat in rice dishes, but the cooks at Masala season it perfectly so that the lamb and spices compliment each other instead of overpowering the dish. And of course there is Masala's Naan bread ($2) and Papadum. For carb junkies out there, these two items are everything you have ever wanted - crisp, chewy bread and crisp lentil wafers. Masala also offers a wonderful lunch buffet, so if you are looking to try a little bit of everything, this is the perfect opportunity. For under $10, you can sample most of Masala's best dishes. At either time, try the Mango Mousse ($4) for dessert. Not too sweet and very good - a must try!
Masala offers coupons on their website, so you can save a little money and have a delicious meal. The owners also have a second venue on Baymeadows Road called Mayuri. Either way you go, you'll be happy you did. Masala Indian Cuisine is located at:
9825 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32257-5489