Bringing Michelinto Midtown

CHO:TU Indian street food restaurant of Maska will open in Miami - Interview with co-owner Shamsu Lalani

Three days after they opened I floated through the doors of Maska Indian Kitchen + Bar for dinner in Midtown Miami. I was greeted by a team of friendly faces, a stunning mural to my left, a gorgeous bar to my right, and straight back I had a clear view into the kitchen. Shamsu Lalani and Pravin Mascarenhas opened the latest hotspot restaurant to hit Midtown Miami in about five months, and have plans to open CHO:TU next door which will be an all-day spot serving up Indian street food from morning to night!

What you can expect at CHO:TU when it opens. Vada Pao, vegetarian fast food dish native to India, typically containing a deep-fried potato dumpling placed inside a bread bun.

“The restaurant business its fun and exciting. You get to meet new people and create something new every day”

After indulging myself with some flavorful dishes and drinks, Lalani, a real estate developer who relocated to Miami from India, indulged me by answering a few questions about the inspiration for the restaurant and future plans. The name of the restaurant was a collective decision. After asking a few people they finally settled on Maska which means butter. “Maska has such a nice flow” said Lalani, adding that they “use a lot of ghee” (Indian butter) in their recipes.

Besides the name, Lalani and Mascarenhas worked with different people on other elements of the restaurant. For example, the mural, called the Maska Model, was done by Florida artist Steven Teller. Their chef Hemant Mathur knows Mascarenhas from New York and when he moved to Miami it all came together. The whole process took about 5 months. “This being my first restaurant I expected it to go faster based on what I’ve seen in New York, but apparently for Miami, we opened pretty quickly!”

“Real estate business in Miami seems to be lucrative and the location is very intriguing to me.”

“We wanted to stay away from the typical Indian restaurant elements and decor.” said Lalani. CHO:TU, or “Indian street food” is scheduled to open in March and will be completely different from Maska. Miami has seen plenty of street food success stories. From the arepas, and grilled cheese sandwiches, to the donuts. “Serving Indian street food is not something that has been done in Miami”  said Lalani. “Our intention is to expand nationally and globally.”

Based on my experience at Maska, I’m looking forward to CHO:TU!

Coming soon to CHO:TU, Masala Dosa. An Indian dish made with rice, lentils, potato, methi, and curry leaves, served with chutneys

Maska | 3252 NE 1st Ave Ste 109 Miami, FL 33137 | (786) 971-9100