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Masala Jack’s

Author: | posted 08/16/08 | Print This Post Print This Post |

When someone says cheap and Indian food in the same breath,
it’s usually a recipe for indigestion, if not worse. You just don’t
want to play roulette with bargain-basement goat meat and lamb
slathered with curry sauce. Hence my slight trepidation when
BiteClubbers turned me onto Masala Jack’s which recently opened in
Cotati, featuring a menu full of curries under $7–many under $5.

Instead,
BiteClub found one of Europe’s largest curry chains come to America.
The new Cotati restaurant (which we hear may be branching out to Santa
Rosa’s downtown soon) is slick and clean, upscale Indian dining on a
daal budget. Though I’ve only begun piecing the details together, it
appears that Masala Jacks is an offshoot of Masala Jak’s–a popular
Indian restaurant from Glasgow, Scotland. That alone gives the spot
cred, as legend has it that tikka masala (one of the most popular curry
dishes ever) got its start on the British Isles. Suffice to say Brits
(and Scots) know their curry.

So here’s the deal. The menu is
packed with Indian delights both familiar and exotic. With prices so
low, feel free to explore outside your comfort zone. Palak Pakora ($2.95)
are deep fried spinach fritters that come with tamarind and mint
dipping sauce and are nearly enough for a meal on their own. Chicken Tikka Masala ($6.95) is a spicier, hotter version that you’ll find elsewhere in SoCo, but filled with big chunks of chicken. Palak Paneer,
a fresh homemade cheese cooked in creamy spinach sauce ($5.95) has
plenty of heat as well, cranking up the fascination factor on a dish
that sometimes crosses into Gerber-like mush.

Tandoor dishes, cooked in a clay oven, include the usual chicken and kababs, but also include Batakh Achari ($9.95), a pickled duck served with mango chutney. Karayla Ghosht ($5.95), a combination of bitter melon and lamb studded with spices or Bengan Bharta ($5.95), a mesquite smoked eggplant cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices that’s a perfect match with jasmine rice.

Everything
is prepared to order, so expect to cool your heels and kick back with
some Bollywood on the flat screen if you’ve got a big order. Bets bet
is to chillax with a glass of mango lassi and order up some naan. The
clay-oven baked flatbread comes in a variety-pack of flavors, from
plain to garlic, onion, cherry-stuffed and (BiteClub’s fave), chili cheese.

The one drawback to Jack’s is the fervor with which they spice, well, everything. You’ll
find whole cloves, cardamom and other herbal goodies in everything from
curries to rice. It’s not a fun thing to bite down on any sort of whole
spice, so be aware. Heat can also be eye-wateringly intense on some
dishes, so ask your server ahead of time if you’d like things cooled
down.

It’s fairly amazing that Masala Jack’s can keep prices so
low while serving up tandoor and curry that’s on par with some of the
better Indian restaurants in town. Maybe its better not to ask too many questions. And just go with the Bollywood vibe.

Masala
Jack’s Original Good Ol’ Indian Curryhouse. Open daily 11:30am to 9pm;
7981 Old Redwood Hwy, Cotati, 707.795.2251. Order ahead if you’re
planning to take out.

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5 Responses

  1. Katie April 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Order a lunch special, Mon-Fri. You will have more than enough food and leftovers to take with you for the next day. I usually have to share an order with my boyfriend because there is so much food, and even then we have extras to take with us. I finally found that I could order a child’s portion (but even then I had left over Tikka Masala, Mmmmmm) I love Masalas, and can be found there often :)

  2. Ethel March 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Food was good, tasty, service was great. But the portions were small, I wasn’t even full. No extras either have to order Naan and rice as extra.My boyfriend had a dish that had only 4 shrimp in it, the cost was $10.00. I had the Chicken Tikka Masala which was good but also small in portion. Dont think I’ll go back I want to know Im going to get my moneys worth.

  3. Leland July 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    Masala Jacks is really top notch for vegetarian Indian. The spicing is just right and the food individually prepared. Children will love the children’s menu. Try the lunch, incredibly inexpensive for wonderful flavors. Eat your way through the menu, the dishes, I mean.

  4. us foodies, we eat out! February 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    hit this place up last night with the wife and toddlers.
    GOOD food, everything we ordered was fresh!
    Friendly staff!
    clean environment.
    this place wont put you in the poor house to enjoy indian food. quality is just dandy. we will go back again and again and again. on a side note…
    what the heck happened to sizzling tandoor? went 3 weeks ago. it was poorly flavoured, overcooked and way too pricey for the poor quality. the belly dancing was cool, thats all that was good that night. meh!

  5. BiteClub October 27, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    Lynda (19/10/2008 11:35:00 PM)
    Comment: I went to masala jack’s today and cant stop thinking about how great the food was. I want more. The services was great, with waitresses that know the menu and are willing to help with anything, wither its about the food or getting a box for your extra food your too full to finish. Great prices for a very decent amount. Ive read some negative reviews but am so glad i tried it for myself. My only disappointment was that i didn’t have room to try everything. I am definitely going back!
    Posted By: Mike (26/08/2008 2:01:42 PM)
    Comment: Had chicken curry. The chicken was ridiculously over cooked, dried out and tough. What’s the matter with people that they think they have to cook something to death, until they ruin it? Supposed to be chicken simmered in curry, but it was more like chicken cooked separately until like shoe leather, then tossed into a curry sauce. Naan very good, sauce very spicy, enough to cause indigestion later, but good with the naan. Won’t go back, can’t stand places that think ruining meat is okay.
    Posted By: Hilary Smith (14/08/2008 8:40:20 PM)
    Comment: The portions at Masala Jack’s are unacceptably small, not even 8oz. We will not go there again. Tandoori Express in Santa Rosa is much better. Their mint chutney isn’t good, but some salt and lemon fix it right up.
    Posted By: tyson (10/08/2008 3:54:16 PM)
    Comment: The prices are good but the quantity is not better. We have to order at least two orders per person. NO Naan and No Rice. It equals the same price as other places. Not better at all.
    Posted By: Sam (03/08/2008 12:50:18 PM)
    Comment: I agree the food was tasty. The service, however was a joke. I can understand that it is very reasonably priced but it was so unorganized and took so long that it ruined the whole meal.
    Posted By: Adam (15/07/2008 8:20:33 PM)
    Comment: Great food at fantastic prices. As we were finishing the owner brought out a sun dried tomato naan he was experimenting with. It started sweet and finished spicey. If you don’t see it on the menu ask about. Well worth it.
    Posted By: Cyn (04/07/2008 4:47:28 PM)
    Comment: My partner and I have been there 2 times….the best indian she’s had since coming over from scotland!(Big Praise)we will be frequent diners! Well worth the drive from Sonoma. The service is warm and professional, the owner is very charming. Great food value.
    Posted By: Mark (25/06/2008 10:07:50 AM)
    Comment: Had a really nice dinner there last night. Covered the table with food and it still was under 35 bucks for two. Very pleasant service as well. One point: they don’t have a liquor license yet so be sure to bring what you want to drink (they have no corkage or pull-tabbage fees). I believe that beer and indian food is a superb pairing.
    Posted By: Anita (21/06/2008 12:03:22 AM)
    Comment: Masalajack’s has in 2 short weeks become, “The Spot” for Indian Food. It is a beautifull addition to Cotati and the food is just amazing. The staff is wonderfull and knowledgable and the prices could not get better. A Dine-In resataurant for the fast food price. Keep it up Jack. We will be back
    Posted By: TRACEY (20/06/2008 9:16:58 AM)
    Comment: We ate there last night, could not have been more disappointed! It was fast food disguised with too much cumin! I agree that the price was right but you get what you pay for! My son in law had lunch there early this week and loved it so to each his own. I love Indian food and would rather pay more and enjoy what I eat and not just fill the whole. My opinion…. McMasala Jacks in the box. YUCK
    Posted By: jgoody (18/06/2008 1:18:47 PM)
    Comment: Had lunch there the other day and while the chicken was definitely dried out, the spices in the vindaloo were spot on. I really enjoy Priya in Rohnert Park, but Jack’s seems to hit the spice a touch hotter, which I prefer. Oh, and Jack’s Chaat is very good.
    Posted By: Bailey (18/06/2008 8:13:18 AM)
    Comment: I’d be more inclined to try them if they weren’t spamming my email all the time. That’s annoying!
    Posted By: Prakash Siva (17/06/2008 11:16:58 PM)
    Comment: The best Indian food in the north bay. Excellent vegetarian dishes at very reasonable prices. Way to go Masala Jacks !!
    Posted By: liz (17/06/2008 4:25:31 PM)
    Comment: I stumbled across Masala Jack’s completely on accident while trying to find a different place to eat. What an incredible find this restaurant was! I ordered my meal to go and ended up chatting with some of the people as they were leaving the restaurant. Each person told me that this was the best Indian food they had eaten in Sonoma County. The staff there were all so friendly while I waited. I could not wait to get home and try the food! Well, I was not disappointed at all. I only wished I had ordered more! I have already been back twice. The curries are mouth watering and a perfect amount of spiciness. The to go containers are reusable which is awesome. I can’t wait to try the desserts next as there is such a variety. The food–very authentic. The price: very reasonable. Even the ambience is wonderful.
    Posted By: Bradlyc (17/06/2008 2:31:26 PM)
    Comment: Tried out the lunch special, today the non-veggie was either Chicken or Lamb Korma, I had the lamb it was amazing! The food reminds me of the Kabob & Curry House on 4th st., but at 1/2 the price. I can’t wait to go back and try their dinner.
    Posted By: Barbara (16/06/2008 3:51:36 PM)
    Comment: An Indian food lover, I was thrilled to see Masala Jack’s open in the old La Familia restaurant site. Having tried every Indian restaurant in Sonoma County, I have to admit that Masala Jack’s ranks close to the top for quality and at the top for price. On our first trial (which was the second day they opened), the service was horrible mostly due to a very inexperienced waitress. At least we understood that they needed a bit of time to work the kinks out so we gave them another try. Service was perfect after that…almost too good because there’s a fine line between a server completely ignoring your needs and a server who is constantly coming to the table to ask how everything is which gets annoying. This challenge is a work in progress for them, but everytime we go back they are closer to getting it right. Lunch prices can’t be beat ($5.95 for the vegetarian meal, $6.95 for meat). This is a full course meal, and you won’t need dinner later after that as it comes with the special, rice, naan, raita, papadum, drink, and dessert! All in all a welcome addition to the neighborhood!

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