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Finally, Good Indian Food comes to Studio City

I wandered into 818 Masala (4141 Lankershim) on Saturday night with some apprehension. The place was empty but I was game. Lo and behold, what I got was the best Indian I've had since I moved to the SFV.
To my palate, Lal Mirch is merely okay, ditto Salomi. Gangadin has horrid service and food that is barely edible while Great India should be renamed Terrible India.
818 Masala is only 3 months old and I can only imagine that a recessionary economy isn't exactly the best time to open a new restaurant ergo, business is slow.
I really hope they can hang on until they are able to build a following because they are the worthiest Indian place I have found in quite a while.
Their saag is home-made with fresh spinach and it is a revelation to anyone who has been eating steam-table spinach paste for years. The pakoras were clearly made by hand and quite good. Their vindaloo was spicy but not so spicy as to obliterate one's ability to taste anything thereafter. In fact, everything I have tasted thus far seems to be made from scratch - even the rice is a cut above that which is served at nearly every Indian restaurant at which I've dined in LA. Oh yeah, and the saffron rice pudding is simply divine.
They don't have their beer and wine license yet but please, I beseech any Indian Cuisine fans who live or work (they are open for lunch) in the area to head to 818 Masala, it is worth a visit.

818 Masala
4141 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602

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  1. Seems that they have taken over the old Kansas City BBQ location.

    1. I received a flyer from them with their menu which also mentioned an all-week lunch buffet. It was quite empty when my wife and I tried their buffet on a Sunday and we were told that they do much better business during the weekdays. As for the food, they had two salad dishes and about five entrees along with rice and veggie pakoras. Not being familiar with most Indian dishes, what I recognized were the chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, and saag. There was a somewhat spicy eggplant dish that I loved as well as a bean-based stew. My wife was worried that there was no naan but it was later brought to our table and was free-flowing. The food was surprisingly good and my wife (who is the picky eater) enjoyed it too. We haven't tried their dinner menu but plan to soon. It's good to know that we have another option for take-out besides the Curry House (or whatever it is now called) up the street.

      1. Fantastic! Now I've got to try this place! I more or less agree with your assessment of the other Indian places you've name-checked, so it's great to see where you are coming from in your rave for this new place.

        I'll be sure to post again once I've checked it out (but that might not be for a few weeks...)

        Thanks again for this post -- the dramatic title especially caught my eye!

        1. I went to 818 Masala today for lunch and tried their $8.95 lunch buffet and it was typical L.A. Indian buffet. Mostly bland food with no spice or heat. Tandoori chicken, garlic naan, yellow lentil dal and mango lassi were ok. Pakoras were tired, chicken tika masala and eggplant need some more spice/flavor! Service was excellent and I may return to try items from the regular menu.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sel

            I have never been a believer buffet food however, at dinner, which is a la carte, they spice to order.

            1. re: sel

              The buffet lunch is strictly to save on labor costs, yet the product suffers so badly as to render the meal inedible.
              Go only for dinner, or order from the menu at lunch, so the food will at least be fresh, made to your specifications.
              That advice would be applicable to all Studio City Indian restaurants, though, not just 818 Masala.

              1. re: carter

                You should say all Indian restaurants. I haven't found a reason to eat buffet Indian anywhere.

                Looking forward to trying 818 Masala

                1. re: Noclue

                  The only Indian buffet I've liked is Haveli in Tustin, and they're busy enough that dishes are turned quickly. (They're also not enormous hotel pans of curry, in most cases.)

            2. After many disappointing Indian meals in Los Angeles, I too have found a new home at Masala 818. As Bodie says, the food is very fresh and appealing, spiced to your taste and served with pride. I don't usually like rice pudding, but their version is extra creamy and delicious. As others have said, I wouldn't bother with the buffet. That's always a bad idea. I hope that some of the NoHo Theater crowd makes it down the street to try this place.

              1. Bodie, thanks so much for the tip. I tried it based on your rec and now am in love with the place! Like you said, everything is made with incredibly fresh ingredients and is very high quality. All the food I've had was great but I particularly recommend the saag paneer, pakoras and some meat dish that begins with a B....forget the name and unfortunately they don't seem to have a menu online.

                Anyway, I highly recommend. Great food, they deliver and the owner offers wonderful, personal service to everyone who walks in the door. This place is wonderful and I hope it sticks around. The first time I visited it was dead inside and I was quite worried but I think word has spread because the last time I was there it was quite busy.

                1. Just out of curiosity, have you (any of you) tried Bollywood, on Tujunga? We were invited to a friend's birthday party there one night a few weeks ago, and while we don't really know that much about Indian food, some other guests were more knowledgeable, and we all liked everything we tried. The place seems most popular for takeout, as there was a steady stream of those customers, but the Birthday Girl said it gets a lot livelier on weekends. Mrs. O got a lamb curry, I the lamb Tikki Masala, and had enough combined leftovers to make myself a splendid lunch the next day. They have a buffet, too, which I might check out if I were in the neighborhood, but I did appreciate the attentive service and the willingness to fine-tune the heat level at dinner.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Reviews on the boards are mixed though the consensus is it's one of the better spots in the area. Personally I haven't tried it but I will say that 818 Masala is the best Indian I've ever had in all of Los Angeles, so between that and the mixed reviews I'm probably not going to end up at Bollywood.

                    1. re: Newkie

                      I have to say that what won my heart was when I responded to the waiter's query by saying the tikki masala was not quite as spicy as I'd expected. He took my nearly-empty serving dish and returned with a full one, spiced perfectly. I had most of it for the next day's lunch!

                  2. Do they have a lunch buffet during the week or on weekends? It sounds delicious! JET

                    1 Reply
                    1. We tried 818 Masala yesterday at lunchtime. We did not do the buffet, we ordered off the menu. It was delicious! The Sag Paneer was the best we have ever tasted, much more flavorful and less watery - not overly creamy, it was sublime. We also had the Kashmiri Pullao rice which I am still craving. We tried the garlic naan, also very good and not dripping with butter like most other places. The Mango Lassi's were thick and tasty. I ordered Aloo Gobi "spicy" and it was quite tastey, however they prepare the Aloo Gobi without a lot of "sauce or gravy", just seasoned potatoes and cauliflower. The Chicken Tikka was my wifes choice and it was good- but chicken tikka is pretty basic so it's hard to mess up. We will definitely return. This is a good find!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rad818

                        Seems like they closed recently. RIP.

                        1. re: LAFenris

                          NO, not even RIP, as they were really no better than most of the rest.
                          No, buffet, no way, any day, would be my motto.
                          Any place that needs to serve a buffet is in the wrong business.