On the northern end of Myrtle Beach, nestled into Restaurant Row, Masala Chai is a recently opened eatery that specializes in street food from India. This new addition was put together by the hard-working team of the original Masala, located near downtown Myrtle Beach. Fans of the business and cuisine might recognize a few menu items at this offshoot, but should look forward to experiencing something new.
While Masala Chai is a much more casual version of its mother restaurant, it isn’t a food stall as one might expect when enjoying street food, and boasts a clean and modern interior. Their origins are easy to discern, what with vivid Bollywood posters displayed on the walls and other vibrant decor, plus the bouncing rhythms of Indian music playing in the background.
This exuberant personality is manifest all the way down to the colorful menu, which is much smaller than the extensive food options at Masala, but has a great amount of variety, just like India herself. Some menu items have pictures for guests who are unfamiliar with the cuisine, and each dish has a quick description to make sure all bases are covered.
If after reading through the entirety of the menu you still find yourself unsure of what each dish is, the service is friendly and happy to answer questions. The savory smell of curry could very well cause your mouth to water in anticipation, although taking a chance on biryani or pani puri may mean discovering a new favorite food.
Masala Chai encourages guests to voice dietary concerns, as much of the food can be prepared gluten-free or vegan. Once the order is placed, preparation begins right away and will arrive at the table steaming hot. The variety of fresh spices and ingredients in the dishes create complex flavors. There are multiple levels of spiciness for certain dishes, but these flavorful meals are always more than simply spicy.
A number of guests who are already making Masala Chai a regular stop are those who are familiar with the food and have an idea of what they would like to enjoy. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see their fan base increasing, as more locals and visitors in the area realize authentic Indian street food is a filling and tasty option for a meal, including for something on the go, which is, of course, how these meals got their start in the first place.
Wherever you may be, learning about the surrounding culture is as easy as walking the streets or enjoying a local meal. Street food combines the best of both and can provide a unique understanding of the history and people. Masala Chai is a bite-sized experience of street food in India, and though it is small in size, it stands tall in personality and flavor.
If you go
What: Masala Chai
Where: 9713 Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sun-Mon, 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Wed-Sat
Information: masalachaionline.com, 843-945-5047