Indian Cuisine Not To Be Ignored
31-15 30th Ave., Astoria
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
CREDIT CARDS: Yes-all major
He looked up at the waitress, hungry and ready.
“The curry is going to be spicy. Indian spicy.”
“I think I can handle spicy.”
It was typical cavalier Craig, fearless and reckless, but the Namaste journey had begun. We were both ready.
Astoria is a pretty hip place these days. Restaurants of all flavors and nationalities fight for the attention of residents who expect more and more out of their eateries. Meals are events. Ambience matters. Taste triumphs, but taste is not absolute—elegance matters, too.
I spent a rainy Friday afternoon with my restaurant-reviewing pal Craig dining in Namaste, an Indian restaurant superior to any I’ve dined at thus far. Granted, my Indian food experiences—mass-produced college cafeteria food and an assortment of small restaurants—have not made me an expert, but I do know my way around a samosa. So does Namaste.
Sleek, a bit minimalist, and above all classy, Namaste sets the mood for a fine dining experience and doesn’t fail to deliver. During lunch hours, they offer both a buffet and full service dining. People who want to make up for disastrous Valentine’s Days, take note—your date will like it here. Your date may even like you afterwards. Try the chicken chat and vegetable samosas for appetizers. Samosas are an Indian staple, a deep fried snack stuffed with either meat or vegetables. Vaguely triangular in shape, they have a magical crunch and always leave you wanting more. After finishing my samosa, I immediately wished I had been a true glutton and ordered 10 more.
Chicken chat, a chicken and vegetable appetizer, also successfully whetted my burgeoning appetite. I was prepared for my main course. Judgment time had arrived.
Craig, as noted before, fancies himself some type of spice Caesar, though I wasn’t so conceited. I wanted a dish that granted me variety. I opted for the mixed grill, Craig for the chicken curry.
Succulent shrimp approximating the size of a baby dolphin, lamb superior to any that your mom’s butcher shop chopped up for you, and chicken of a higher order made my mixed grill a feast to lovingly recall years from now when feasts of that caliber will probably be a mere twinkle in a cyborg’s eye. Yes, it was that good. I tried some of Craig’s chicken curry because I’m the type of person who tries other people’s food. The spice was right and the chicken, rich and chewy, sated me.
For dessert, our waitress brought us an Indian rice pudding called kheer. We devoured it quickly.
“Namaste” is a word that yoga-practitioners will recognize. When the word is spoken to another person, it means the speaker is recognizing the divine spark that is within all of us. In India, it indicates a deep form of respect, with the word accompanying a bow.
It can be debated whether a restaurant has a divine spark, but what can’t be debated is that Namaste is a restaurant that should not be ignored by anyone who wants great Indian cuisine in New York City.