October 10, 2010
Chennai Masala’s atmosphere is more akin to Chipotle. It’s bright and open, with nary a tablecloth in sight, and the chatter of large family gatherings rebounding off the walls. With all of its commotion, Chennai Masala does not present a particularly relaxing environment for dining. Luckily, whatever distractions are present quickly vanish once the food arrives, demanding your focus. Chennai Masala’s food is vibrantly colorful and aromatic, whetting your appetite from the moment it is set down in front of you.
Appetizers like the pakora is fried crispy with well-cooked onions and peppers and a subtly tasty dipping sauce made from lentils with hints of garlic, cilantro, and chutney is a good choice. Or, the Mango Lassi, which is sweet and thick, if unremarkable. It is the entries, however, that steal the show. The Palak Paneer is thick and the myriad of flavors stood out from each other, particularly spinach and cilantro. The Tikka Masala, a personal favorite, with a bold tomato flavor undercut by a spicy aftertaste. The spice level is enjoyable without being overbearing, and the spices linger rather than sear. The meals should be accompanied with Garlic Nan.
Service throughout a meal is generally quick, if not particularly heartwarming. The service is definitely efficient but a bit aloof, not particularly interested in making small talk but attending to dining needs without delay. The food is priced appropriately for this kind of dining environment. Appetizers were between $4 and $8, entrees between $9 and $13, beverages between $1.50 and $3, and desserts $3.00 apiece. Vegetarian options are available, though vegans might have a more difficult time.
By Dan Simon
- Large portions
- Very authentic Indian food
- Attentive and efficient service
- Pretty far out - Hillsboro
- Chipotle-esque setting
- Can be not so law school budget
For more information:West of Portland in Hillsboro
2088 NW Stucki Ave.