2012-02-22 / Restaurant of the Week


This contemporary Indian restaurant is evocative of its name, “Namaste”, which is an ancient greeting of peace. You’ll be greeted with warm smiles from the friendly staff as you enter the very serene dining room decorated in subtle hues of gray and taupe, with leather banquettes and soft, suspended lights. The walls are adorned with paintings by contemporary Indian artists and the tables are dressed with sleek, woven placemats. At Namaste you can enjoy upscale ambience, service and food without upscale pricing.

Chef and partner Masul and partner Brandon have many years of experience in top-rated restaurants and their expertise shows in the quality of the exotic, artfully prepared cuisine. Until the liquor license comes in, enjoy a cool, creamy mango lassi made with yogurt and fresh fruit. Start with one of their delicious appetizers, such as the shrimp bhuna made with mildly spiced plump shrimp with shredded vegetable garnish ($7.95). Classic samosas are delicate pastries filled with seasoned potatoes and peas accompanied by dipping sauces ($4.95 for two). Chicken chat is marinated grilled chicken slices with vegetables served with tamarind and cilantro chutney, presented on shiny white plates. The tandoor clay oven renders the juiciest meat, poultry and seafood. For a great appetizer to share, try the Indian take on chicken wings, marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked in the tandoor. Mulligatawny soup combines lentils, vegetables and mild spices for a soul-warming bowl. The Tandoori chicken salad makes another nice starter, with plenty to share.

Main courses include chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetarian and rice dishes so you’ll find all your favorites. All dishes are cooked to order so a little patience is rewarded as you dig into the most tender, succulent chicken tikka masala cooked in a mild, creamy coconut-tomato sauce, ideal for spooning over the fluffy basmati rice that accompanies every dish ($12.95). Chicken korma adds sliced almonds and raisins to its creamy sauce for a slightly sweet and savory dish. The chef’s specialty is Namaste chicken curry, made with a secret blend of spices. While Indian food is very flavorful, not all dishes are hot. All dishes are prepared “mild” unless noted. Please ask your server if you want to add some “heat” to any dish. For example, Vindaloo is traditionally spicy and can be ordered with chicken, lamb or shrimp. You can choose one of four levels of spiciness to please your particular palate.

Lamb plays a big role in Indian cuisine and at Namaste, juicy, tender lamb is prepared in nearly a dozen delicious ways. Lamb curry is a signature dish, cooked with hot spices. Lamb with spinach sautées cubes of tender lamb with fresh spinach and mild spices ($13.95). Our pleasant waiter brought us a bowl of Kadai lamb, a stew prepared with tomatoes, onions, fresh vegetable and flavorful spices. The best part of Indian food is ordering different dishes and sharing with your companion. Ordering a spicy dish and a slightly sweet one such as coconut lamb is a great way to explore the diversity of Indian cuisine. An order of Tandoori mixed grill allows you to sample all these delicacies along with house potatoes.

If you prefer seafood, juicy shrimp and flaky fish can be prepared in similar recipes, or eschew meat of all kinds and order one of the many vegetarian and rice dishes on the menu. Baby eggplant is roasted with masala mixed spices then simmered in sesame coconut sauce for a hearty meal. Saag paneeer is a popular dish of creamy spinach made with homemade cheese and mild spices ($11.50). Biryani dishes feature fluffy basmati rice and raita yogurt sauce. Choose among vegetable biryani, lamb, chicken or shrimp and order some bread to go along with it. Bread is ordered separately and comes in a number of tantalizing varieties. The classic Naan is flat bread, cooked on the spot in the tandoor oven. Add garlic, cheese or ground lamb to the Naan and you’ve got a great accompaniment to your dinner. Poori is fried till puffy, made with whole wheat flour, while paratha bread is flaky and layered.

Sweeten your palate with a cool, creamy rice pudding, scented with slivered almonds, saffron-scented ice cream or homemade rasmalai, which is cheese and sweet, condensed milk and rosewater. Chocolate cake and cheese cake are also available.

Namaste serves a nice “all-you-can-eat” lunch buffet for just $11.95 or you may order a prix fixe lunch for just $8.95. Namaste is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with a fabulous lunch buffet. For upscale Indian cuisine at reasonable prices in a very peaceful setting with friendly service, Namaste is waiting for you. Credit cards are accepted.

31-15 30th Avenue  Astoria


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