No buffets: Masala Street's modern Indian flavors
Published - 12/14/16 - 02:08 PM | 2781 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
"Tacosas," or samosa tacos, an original Masala St. concotion.
"Tacosas," or samosa tacos, an original Masala St. concotion.
There is no shortage of delectable Mexican, upscale “fusion” and juice bar/sandwich shops in La Jolla. While a few Indian restaurants exist sparsely throughout the area, there is certainly enough room for improvement. Enter legendary Indian chef, Hemant Oberoi, and his talented son, Saransh. Together, the two have expanded their Masala Street restaurants to a new location on Pearl Street.

The former Oberoi has provided culinary services for the last six presidents, international diplomats, royalty and celebrities of both Hollywood and Bollywood esteem. Saransh, or “Obi” as he is known to most, followed in his father’s footsteps – studying at the Culinary Institute of America and honing his craft at the 3-Michelin Star restaurant Jeans-Georges in Manhattan.

“This is our first location in the U.S., and we’re truly grateful for our reception thus far in La Jolla,” said the younger Oberoi. “We’re also looking to open in London, Singapore, and Los Angeles, but that is a long-term goal of course. Our goal is the present proper Indian flavors in a modern way, and never, under any circumstances, utilize a buffet!”

Both Oberois declare “No buffets!” in unison. To them, to have such a flavorful dish sitting in a steam table, cooking out the in-house spices is just well... wrong.

Although the menu does highlight typical Indian fare, the presentation – paying homage to the street vendors of the Punjab region (where Hemant was raised) – is anything but traditional. Another thing the two are cogently passionate about is the quality and freshness of their ingredients. All spice mixes are made in-house, only fresh tomatoes are used for masala sauce and they aim to buy local as often as possible.

“Since we live in San Diego, we figured that tacos had to be represented somewhere on the menu,” said Master Chef Hermant Oberoi. “So, we came up with our taco samosas to give people something different. Also, our chicken tikka masala is done properly, with a thicker sauce, chives, and fresh ingredients – just like the street vendors I remember growing up.”

The beer and wine list at Masala Street is extensive. Only selling beer from local breweries, they will feature ten beers on tap, with nine bottles available. Also, they have over seventeen different kinds of wine available by the glass and bottle.

According to the Oberois, Indian food a) must never be presented in a steam table, b) properly represent the area in which it’s made and c) has to be affordable.

“This is not ‘curry in a hurry’,” stresses Hemant Oberoi. “These are recipes that I have perfected after more than 42 years of cooking and mean a great deal to me. We believe that everyone should have access to authentic Indian food.”

The Oberois have already seen return customers in their first week of business, which is a good sign. Hemant will return to oversee the rest of his business, but Saransh takes the helm of both front and back-of-the-house duties. Crafted through years of experience and understanding, Masala Street should truly provide a staple for many La Jollans.

Masala Street is located at 915 Pearl St. 858-412-5897.
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