MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s modern meets tradition at Maska in Midtown.

A chic and trendy Indian restaurant helmed by Executive Chef and partner Hemant Mathur, who in 2004 earned a Michelin star for his many New York eateries.

“I was the first Indian chef who received a Michelin star in North America, the first ever. It’s a very big honor for a chef. It’s hard work to keep your food consistent and high quality,” said Chef Hemant.

Looking around the 7000 square-foot indoor/outdoor eatery with fancy chandeliers and sexy artwork, the restaurant has a cool, hip vibe. Hemant said the decision to put Maska into Midtown was deliberate.

“It’s a happening scene. That’s why we chose this location. You can see offices, residential [areas] and near the art district, it’s bringing the traffic in,” he said.

There are two open kitchens. One grilling station features the classic blazing tandoor ovens.

The word “maska” means butter.

“You can say the food is modern Indian, but still we have the classic dishes we are serving, but in a modern way,” he said.

So let’s get to the eye-catching plates.

First Duck Tacos. They are rice crepes with duck dipped in a coconut chutney sauce.

“This is so thin. It’s made with rice and lentils, it’s paper thin, delicate, crunchy and very moist. It’s heaven in a taco,” said CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo after tasting.

Next Chef Hemant’s lamb chops marinated in yogurt and cardamom powder with a ginger garlic paste, served with mint cilantro and chutney.

“I used to be intimated by Indian food, thinking it was heavy and spicy and I would leave with my mouth on fire. Not the case,” said Petrillo

“We are not. We want to go more mainstream so people will enjoy our food,” said Chef.

Naan Bread is made from scratch back in the kitchen.

Chef has been referred to as the Yo Yo Ma of tandoor cooking, so they end on his special butter chicken. It’s made on skewers in the tandoor grill.

“Delicious,” said Petrillo. “How do  you say delicious in Hindi?”

“Svaadisht,” said Chef. “Svaadisht is what it is,” said Petrillo.

Maska’s just opened its sister, fast-casual restaurant next door called Cho: Tu.

Maska is opened Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and brunch on Sunday.

For more info visit www.maskamiami.com.

Lisa Petrillo

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