Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strangely New York: Will Masala Twist Be the Next Kung Fu Bing?

The new Masala Twist.

By Mitch Broder

If you miss having bings in a toilet, go and have kababs in the same toilet.

The Chinese pancakes are gone, but the urinal seats live on.

The late Kung Fu Bing.
A month ago I wrote of the demise of Kung Fu Bing, a Chinese fast-food restaurant on the Lower East Side. It had hoped to do for the bing, or pancake, what hamburgers did for the bun. It didn’t succeed. It failed first in Chinatown, which is like the latke failing in Borough Park.

It was gone so fast that I didn’t have a chance to eat a bing, though based on review words like “gummy” and “greasy,” I would have been a fan. But I was more fascinated by its seats, shiny white bowls on conical pedestals, which bore an uncanny resemblance to a modern male relief station.

More important, they looked uncomfortable, a condition that’s clearly trending in the gimmick-grounded fast-food joints that seem to open here hourly. I suggested that the plastic chairs played at least a subliminal role in the death of Kung Fu Bing. I praised New Yorkers for their refinement.

The Toto Toilets Model UT104E#01. 
But no sooner did I post than Kung Fu Bing was replaced by an Indian fast-food restaurant called Masala Twist. The owners, of course, changed the menu. They changed the signs. They changed the décor. Sort of. But they kept the seats. I reacted rationally. I took it as a personal attack.

Though it may be thrifty, it seems imprudent to furnish a fledgling restaurant with conspicuous reminders of a conspicuous predecessor that flopped. Twice. And it still seems imprudent to me to invite people to eat on things that evoke the opposite of eating. I will never give up.

Masala Twist has a compact menu with economical selections like Chicken Tikka, Shami Kabab, and Eggplant Masala. I think it hopes to do for masala, or spices, what Kung Fu Bing didn’t do for the bing. Its Web site suggests that they’d like you to refer to the store as “Twisty,” which I believe is Indian for “Mickey D’s.”

The Web site also says: “When you eat at Masala Twist, it is just like eating at households throughout India.” I have not eaten at households throughout India. But I’ll just bet that the residents don’t take their meals on leftover Chinese-pancake seats that look like they belong behind a door marked “Men.”

Size up the seating at Masala Twist, 189 East Houston Street, between Orchard and Ludlow streets, in Manhattan.


  1. Will this restaurant, too, go down the drain? Is there any "good, old-fashioned NY refinement" left? I'll be back to find out!

  2. OK, there's no way I could sit in those seats now...thanks for sharing Mitch!

  3. Hahaha, Pat. You are almost as witty as Mitch! OK, don't fight. Equally as witty. Jeez, this is just like being at home, minus the Bing Bowls. I'll pass.