Last Updated on November 9, 2021
Masalchi Scores in Wembley
Atul Kochar is one of the key figures in transforming the perception of Indian cuisine in the UK. The two-Michelin-starred chef showcased his innovative approach at legendary restaurants including Tamarind and Benares. Atul has now expanded his restaurant portfolio under the brand Atul Kochhar Restaurants with Vassu and Sindhu at The Compleat Angler Hotel in Marlow, Hawkyns at The Crown Inn, Amersham, Indian Essence in Petts Wood, Kent and Riwaz in Beaconsfield. There’s also a 2022 Tunbridge Wells opening to come!
So, we are very pleased to have been invited to review Atul’s newest 120-cover restaurant Masalchi serving ‘hearty and rustic homely food’ in the lively new Wembley Park development around Wembley Stadium and near Wembley Park tube. Masalchi means spice master, or spice blender – we are expecting a flavour-packed pan-Indian feast replete with the street food influences that Atul so loves. The menu includes curries, grills, half-plates and traditional Handi, Masala and Kalia dishes.
The interior is modernist Indian chic with polished concrete floors and distressed concrete walls framing a large airy contemporary space. There’s a wooden lattice ceiling, gorgeous turquoise tiled pillars and a copper bar and light fittings. There is a fabulous tasting menu called The Spice Master’s Menu (both vegetarian and meat versions) and we are trying dishes from that as well as from the main menu. But first things first, which means a pint of Cobra Indian lager and a glass of Atul’s own label Sauvignon Blanc from Hungary. The wine is dry and crisp with a hint of grapefruit and is perfect with our poppadums and 5-spice-flavoured sweet mango and spicy tomato chutneys.
First out of the kitchen are two dishes that simply burst with flavour. Malwani Rubiyan features succulent tandoori-grilled king prawns from the Konkan coast with a cooling ‘kuchumber’ salad of red onion, cucumber and tomato and fresh mint chutney. There’s an onion bhaji on the side for good measure! Chicken 65 is a superbly spicy deep-fried chicken dish flavoured with curry leaves and red chillis from Chennai in South India. They certainly got our gastric juices flowing!
Next up was Aloo Kachori, a deliciously fragrant bread, and potato curry from Agra and Mathura made with ‘pie’ pastry. On a cold winter’s evening this was perfect comfort food – I had to stop myself from asking for more!
We tried two robust well-flavoured curries from the menu. A classic Chicken Tikka with the chicken marinated in red chilli paste was creamy and with a mild heat. The South Indian Macchi Masala fish curry had a spiced tomato sauce filled with flaky fish fillets.
For our sides Tarka Dal was luscious and soupy, our nan was perfectly charred bringing out the flavour and the Pulao rice was perfumed and not at all starchy.
We tried two desserts from the Masalchi menu. Gulab Jamun was a bowl of ricotta-like spongy cheese dumplings in a sweet light rose syrup. I’m not a fan of rose flavourings but this was so subtle it just added a hint of perfume. However, carrot fudge. topped with flaked almonds was my kind of dessert. Delicious and with just a hint of sweetness!
It’s lovely to eat a quality Indian meal of this type in a contemporary space The food at Masalchi is not meant to be high-end but it is gutsy, flavourful and priced very reasonably. You’ll find new dishes there that you’ll want to explore. Service is very informed and professional and if you are in the Wembley Park area it’s well worth a visit.
2 Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley Stadium, Wembley Park HA9 0HP
Tel: 020 8634 8181.