Masala Desi Cafe opened on Feb. 4 at 2137 Roosevelt Ave., replacing Summit Cafe. Owner Srihari (who asked to only be identified by his first name) is a software engineer turned restaurateur from Hyderabad in southern India.
The newly opened Masala Desi Cafe serves coffee, teas and Indian fare. Photo courtesy Masala Desi Cafe.
He created Masala Desi Cafe to be geared toward coffee, snacks and takeout-friendly food, not just for the duration of the pandemic but beyond.
"After this pandemic, (there will be) more focus on takeout. It is the trend," he said. "People may not be that comfortable to eat at the restaurant ... it may take some time."
Srihari lives in Fremont but often comes to the Peninsula to eat, and said he felt Redwood City in particular needed more Indian restaurants.
Masala Desi Cafe serves coffee brewed with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and star anise; as well as masala chai, masala chaas (a spiced yogurt drink), mango lassi and popular Indian soda Thums Up. Coffee and espresso drinks are also available.
Biryani with raita and salan from Masala Desi Cafe in Redwood City. Photo courtesy Masala Desi Cafe.
The food menu includes curries, biryani, butter chicken, chana masala, several types of naan and roti baked in a clay oven. Masala Desi Cafe also makes "fusion" items like a curry burrito (chicken tikka masala or paneer wrapped in naan), chicken wings tossed in Indian spices and those sliders, served on soft pav bread.
For dessert, look for Indian cakes, rasamalai (paneer cheese soaked in sweet milk with spices) and gulab jamun (deep-fried balls soaked in honey and syrup).
Masala Desi Cafe is open for lunch and dinner for now (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.) but Srihari is busy hiring more staff to expand to the full hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cafe is open for takeout and delivery and has a few tables for outdoor dining.