If you haven’t kept your eyes peeled around the Wanchai A1 MTR exit, chances are you’ve missed the district’s best-kept Indian takeaway secret. Masala Train’s not a new addition to the area, but it has made recent additions to its little menu of wraps, rolls, curries, pavs and meal boxes that ought to please the vegetarians and Meatless Monday practitioners amongst us. Veggie lunch spot, y’all!
Owner Tiena’s philosophy is deceivingly simple: homemade Indian cuisine, with no artificial colourings, flavourings and MSG. Her mission is to promote Indian food as healthy and light on the stomach – quite a challenge, we’d say, as the first words we associate with Indian food are usually “heavy” and “food coma”. Here are some of the highlights of our extensive meal at Masala Train:
We couldn’t get enough of the aloo chat ($30) – literally. After we had polished off one sizeable portion, we were given another two to go – that’s how much we loved it. Think of it as a healthy tater-tot salad slathered in zesty yoghurt sauce, fresh tomato, onion and coriander: a plate of sweet-and-sour perfection. We highly recommend this dish to all first-time Masala Train diners.
The chicken tikka roll ($58) was packed to bursting with extremely tender, well-marinated chicken, greens and a flavourful, creamy sauce in a thin, burrito-like wrap. We really liked this particular take on the wrap. Unlike the thick, pitta-like bread served at other Indian restaurants, this lighter option made us feel like we were getting the most bang for our buck.
We couldn’t make a visit to an Indian spot without dipping into a biryani, and Masala Train’s chicken biryani ($58) hit all the right taste buds to entice us to hum a chorus of “mmmmm”s. The fragrant, savoury basmati rice pilaf was laced with caramelised onion and flavourful, tender chicken cubes that melted at first bite. A homemade raita side provided a cooling balance with every forkful.
No skimping on the cheese here – our palak paneer ($58) came with big, ol’ chunks of chewy cottage cheese, a hearty portion of creamy puréed spinach, a cute side salad with basic vinaigrette and a whole lotta steamed rice. True to the eatery’s fresh and healthy philosophy, Masala Train’s palak paneer was a great deal less oily compared to the ones we’ve had before, though we could have done with a bit more seasoning (we like it salty).
Vada pav ($40), a popular snack most commonly found on the streets of Mumbai, has found a fitting home on the menu at Masala Train – and in Hong Kong, where we fervently treasure our deep-fried street snacks. Flour-coated and spiced mashed potato balls are sandwiched between pav buns and smeared with mint-and-coriander chutney. These spicy little vegetarian sliders were carb bombs of joy – all flavour, no filler and great for a quick, on-the-go snack. Just like in Mumbai.
Of course, we had to wrap up with a mango lassi ($25). Like so much of what we tried at Masala Train, this thick smoothie, made with homemade yoghurt, was incredible value for money. The richness of the yoghurt and the intense mango flavour really made the drink feel like a dessert treat. We could have used a spoon to scoop it out, eating it like ice cream – that’s how creamy and indulgent it was.
We’re super into Masala Train’s affordable menu – gotta love a spot that sorts out your stomach for under $100 per person – its convenient location (underneath the footbridge and about three steps away from an MTR exit) and the evident love that the team puts into the food they serve. Nothing feels better than eating food that tastes like we’ve just been welcomed into the home of a dear friend whose mum has been getting busy in her fragrant, steamy kitchen. And it stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, for those craving a bite before (or after) going out on the town.
The only thing we regret is that Masala Train serves its food in plastic containers and provides plastic cutlery – something that, fortunately, provides a lot of opportunity for more eco-minded guests, as diners are encouraged to bring in their own containers for takeaway orders (those who do will receive a discount!).
146 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, 2415 3000
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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