Masala Cafe – a Pakistani Experience (closed as of Summer 2013)

As a Philadelphia Class Action lawyer, I had the opportunity to eat my way around the U.S.  From Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in Las Vegas to West Chester PA’s own Italian eatery, Pietro’s.  From San Francisco’s German Suppenkueche to the Ethiopian cuisine of Washington DC’s landmark Red Sea.  From absolutely every fare you can imagine in NYC to Tallahassee’s historic steakhouse, Silver Slipper.  (I wish I could have said Peter Luger in Brooklyn – but alas, I have yet to make it there!).  From Chicago’s deep dish pizza eateries to the mouth-watering pork bbq found just about anywhere in Lexington NC.  Heck, I once drove 80 miles from Topeka KS to Kansas City MO for barbeque!  Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the cheesesteak (onions and ketchup) found at Benny’s Pizzeria in West Chester, PA.  (Forget Pat’s and Geno’s Philly Steaks!  My apologies to Jim’s on South St.  Haven’t tried Joey’s II yet  in Phoenixville, PA – Now, Philadelphia is a culinary legend all its own!  It’s no San Francisco or NYC, but it is a mecca of fabulous dining!  My neighborhood favorite was the Moroccan, FigsOsteria for Italian.  Le Bec Fin for French.  And Amada, oh Amada, for Spanish tapas.  Every nook and cranny of Philadelphia has a good, if not great, restaurant.  My latest addiction for delivery was Amada’s sister Mexican restaurant, Distrito.  But now I am just getting off-track.

Last night I had the opportunity to eat at my first “foreign food” restaurant in Ankara.  I dined at a lovely local spot called Masala Cafe.  It was located in the heart of Embassy Row in Aşağı Ayrancı, Çankaya.  We arrived a bit early so I could get some good pictures of the restaurant.

The dining room is small and cozy, like a typical Philadelphia neighborhood jaunt.  The tables, however, are not crowded.  Large white leather-covered benches and chairs allow you to dine in comfort.  The walls are decorated with some traditional Pakistani art mixed with more modern sketches.  Very nicely done.  In the front of the restaurant were wooden teak tables for outdoor dining and a few strands of white lights for ambience.

The Masala menu (a newspaper-style menu with both English and Turkish, lots of pictures, and recipes) contains customary Pakistani dishes such as:  Vegetable Samosa (a potato-filled puffed pastry); Chicken Tikka (chicken marinated in Masala spices and grilled on charcoal); and Lamb Karahi Gosht (a diced lamb curry dish cooked in a deep wok with fresh tomatoes, onion, ginger, garlic and Masala spices.)  I must admit, this was my first Pakistani dining experience ever, although I assumed it would be very similar to the many Indian restaurants I had enjoyed in Philadelphia, West Chester, San Francisco and Bala Cynwyd.  (Finally, I admit that BC has some decent restaurants!)  We decided on two entrees, Chicken Tikka and Chicken Korma Curry (an exotic rich curry with diced chicken and mouth watering traditional Masala exotic spices.)  We were NOT disappointed!

Our server did an excellent job.  He was polite, conscientious, and quick.  In standard Turkish style, bread and an appetizer were delivered to the table as part of the package.  It would take another blog to write about the bread here in Turkey!  Masala’s round flat bread, although not naan or paratha, was warm and fresh!  The appetizer was a chick pea salad with finely chopped fresh onion and peppers, mixed with olive oil and Pakistani spices.  Yum!  Two dipping sauces with a yogurt-like base were served with fried chips (similar to something you would get with a Chinese soup.) 

Our meals were served hot.  They were very delicious.  Both meals came with basmati rice, a sautéed vegetable medley, and a salad of cucumber and carrot.

The very hospitable and gracious host of the evening, Arshad, came to each table to check on our comfort and our meals.  He spoke Turkish and English fluently in addition to his native tongue. 

Owner, Arshad Nawaz Khan, and his Chef

If you are in Ankara and are planning to stop by, you should know that Masala also has a Turkish fixed menu that changes daily for a very reasonable price (noon until 3pm).  Sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts, special Pakistani drinks, and prix-fixe combo platters for two people round out the menu.

Appetizers cost approximately 4.5TL to 6TL.  Entrees range from 12TL to 16.50.  The special lunch menu is around 9TL and the prix-fixe combo is 45TL.  The conversion rate is currently1.5TL to $1 US.  So the two-person combo which includes an appetizer, choices of curries and meat dishes, vegetables, rice, and dessert, will cost about $30.

It was another wonderful evening and delicious meal!  Eline Sağlık to Arshad and his chef!

Location:  Paris Cd. Şili Meydan 49-E, Çankaya, Ankara
T: 0312 4286060-67

Update:  New owners, Amir and Nadia Sheikh, took over the restaurant in May 2011!  I hear it is as good as ever!  I will let you know once I try it again . . .

Update January 2012:  Sadly, I can no longer recommend this restaurant, although that does not mean that you shouldn’t give it a try.  I have had dinner delivered, lunch take-out, and the lunch buffet twice.  It’s just not the same as it was.  Perhaps I should try dinner at the restaurant one more time.

Update August 2012: I have revisited the restaurant and loved it!  Masala, under its new ownership, has done a complete 360.  Read more about it by clicking here.

20 thoughts on “Masala Cafe – a Pakistani Experience (closed as of Summer 2013)

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  1. Turkiye Hos geldiniz!
    Thanks for the review. I have walked by but never eaten there. I will put it on my list of places to go. I am living in Balgat, and have been in Turkey for about a year. I grew up in NH. Let me know if you have any questions or would like talk. It was difficult for me when I first moved here because of the language barrier. I also organize an ex-pat group every once in a while.

    1. Hi Jules! Thanks for checking out the blog. I would love to chat sometime. I will send you an email. In the meantime, get yourself a new teapot! Loved your blog. I linked it to my Ankara section.

  2. I will definitely check out this place, I love Pakistani food and all things Pakistan actually, and it’s not far from my place 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation, I knew there was a Pakistani restauant in town but I didnt know where! 😀 The food looks delicious!

  3. Last week I finally went to this cafe. The food was superb, loved the lassi, the pakistanki chai and the chicken korma. The environment was really good, the waiter was very nice and the prices were very affordable. Thank you Terry for recommending this place, it was really worth it!

  4. Please update this site. Masala Cafe is now owned by a Canadian gentleman Amir Asghar Sheikh and his wife Nadia. He has brought around quite a few changes for the good. You can enjoy a lunch buffet and eat to your fullest.

    1. Thanks. When did that happen? I just ordered food from Masala two weeks ago and I thought it was Arshad that answered the phone. Although, that may explain why my order wasn’t right — although it was still good!

  5. Hi Terry,
    Thank you for liking our food. We took over Masala Cafe in May 2011. We must admit that we did encountered a few problems in the beginning, but I think we are pretty much caught up with it. There are additional Pakistani and Indian dishes available now and the food is delicious than ever. Will be honoured to meet with you in person. Hope to see you soon at the restaurant.

    Thanks ……… Amir and Nadia Sheikh

      1. Hi Terry,

        Masala Cafe’s phone number is still the same 312-428-6060. Please check out the August edition of Elite magazine. You will find lots of information in it about us.

        Thanks again ……….. Amir and Nadia Sheikh

  6. Thanks Rachel… for a nice review.

    Hi Terry, remember when I said we encountered a few problems in the beginning, just to let u know that my wife was pregnant during those days and she used to cook in that situation, almost till the last days and thanks to Almighty our cute little newborn is six months old now, and my wife and I are still in the kitchen most of the time. Please visit Masala Cafe one more time, I am sure you will not be disappointed. Still waiting to meet you and your husband in person.

    P.S. Please ask for our new addition to the menu. i.e. CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA, CHICKEN OR LAMB VINDALOO & BIRYANI. All Masala’s customers are loving em.

    1. It is lovely to see you and your business on internet
      Canadians are missing you:)
      May Almighty bless you with success and happiness.


  7. can you give us the exact location for this restaurant, last sunday we walked the Paric Cad but didn’t find, we want to try the food, kindly reply ASAP, Thanks

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