Chennai Masala could’ve done without the hype


Last Friday’s Oregonian A&E ran an article raving about the new Indian restaurant in Hillsboro called Chennai Masala. For years Anjali and I have always had to answer questions about where to eat the best Indian food in Portland. Other than the Chaat House cart downtown or the Chole Bhatura at the Kalga, we’ve always recommended the West Suburbs for Portland’s best authentic Indian food. So it wasn’t a surprise to see a rave review for a new Indian restaurant in Hillsboro. Anjali and I had flyering to do out that way so after a very late rising we headed out for a 7pm breakfast. We’re always hungry for good new Indian restaurants and having not eaten at all we were very ready to devour a South Indian feast. Chennai Masala is in a strip mall. Very basic setting. Forty seats total between a window counter and a bare floor of small tables. Every seat was full and we had to wait. We were facing a long steam table/cashier station across from the tables. It took a while to get seated. It seemed as if one friendly and harried waitress dealt with the bulk of caring for all the tables. When we were seated we then had to wait a long time for water and a longer time to have our order taken. We were really ready to eat at this point and the smells were only focusing our desire. After another long wait where we saw people ordering after us but eating before us, our Mysore Masala Dosa and Onion and Chili Uttapam arrived simultaneously even though we were told the Uttapam would take a much longer time. Both were serviceable but far from exciting. The article had warned that they might be out of things and I noticed that there was an empty trough on the metal tray where the mint chutney should have been. It was missed. After finishing these dishes we were waiting and waiting for our order of  Palak Paneer (The menu also has a handful of standard North Indian dishes.). We asked about it and the waitress went back to the kitchen. Comes out apologizing that they are now out of Palak Paneer. Other customers that came and ordered after us got some but our order was forgotten and is now unfillable. “Fine, can we just get two chais, please?” “I’m sorry but we’re out of chai.” On that note our dissatisfaction was complete. Very unpleasant experience, very mediocre food, with a too doughy non-spicy Uttapam, and no chai?!? If you want good South Indian food we would recommend Abhiruchi or Mayuri. Good North Indian: hit Swagath at Orenco Station or India Palace (Although its been a while since we’ve been there.).


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