Friday, 1 June 2012

Review - Namaste

18th May 2012

104 Lygon Street,

Cuisine: North & South Indian, Malaysian, Indo-Chinese

Taste Rating: 7.5/10   Value Rating: 8/10

Namaste India on Urbanspoon

Our group of  six people went for lunch one sunny Friday in late autumn, arriving at about 12.15 pm. We had made a booking a week in advance. We had also pre-ordered our meal the day before. This clearly popular restaurant was almost full when we arrived, suggesting we would be in for a good lunch. (For those in the northern hemisphere, Melbourne in the southern hemishpere has its autumn from March to May!)

I like the Lygon street area. Its old time Melbourne look and feel was enhanced brilliantly by the autumn colours. This conjured warm, wonderful overtures of a place to enjoy good company and delicious food.

Namaste restaurant is not huge but they manage to fit quite a number of people in. The ambience is simple. The test of the authenticity of an ethnic restaurant is how popular it is with its own ethnic group and Namaste is very well frequented by a large number of clientele from the Indian subcontinent. Two of our party hail from Hyderabad and they were enthusiastic about the menu offerings. Both provided excellent guidance in selecting a great range of dishes, which we all shared.

The menu is quite extensive covering a large range of North Indian, South Indian, Malaysian and Indo-Chinese cuisine. It is easy to get lost whilst searching through the menu items! There is a helpful rating of 1 chilli for Medium Hot, 2 chillies for Very Hot.

We enjoyed the following selection:
  • Chicken Kal Masala (Boneless chicken marinated in yoghurt & spices.)
    Splendidly tender and flavoursome chicken. I liked the nice crust on the chicken. With curry leaves. Also had cut green chilli which was a nice touch.
  • Pepper Chicken Chettinad (Chicken masala with crushed peppercorn)
    Chettinad cuisine uses a variety of coarse ground spices. Very tender chicken. Very chilli hot - hence the 2 chilli rating! This spicy dish is not for the faint hearted, however, when accompanied with the yummy Naan, a good beer and our other dishes, it worked well.
  • Lamb Shukka (Lamb cubes marinated in yoghurt, coriander leaves and spices.)
    The gravy was salty and spicy. The lamb was very tender.
  • Tandoori Chicken (Chicken Maryland marinated in curd and spices, and grilled in the Tandoor oven.)
    A full serve comprises 4 Maryland pieces served on a large platter. The drumsticks were covered in foil. For the purpose of sharing between six people, we used caveman-like tactics to break off the drumsticks using our bare hands. It was easier than using a knife and fork, and safer!
  • Saffron Rice (Rice favoured with saffron)
    Pleasant yellow coloured rice. Tasted OK. 
  • Butter Naan (Naan bread spread with butter)
    Tasted OK.
  • Dal Spinach (Split yellow lentil with garlic, cumin and spinach puree.)
    Slightly "musty taste" was how one of our party described this dish. This could be due to the spinach.
  • Murgh Dum Ki Biryani ( Chicken and Basmati rice cooked with spices)
    This translates as Chicken Biryani! Very tasty. With dark cinnamon bark pieces. The rice had chicken pieces mixed in and sat on top of two chicken drumsticks.
  • Ginger Chicken (From the IndoChinese range, chicken marinated in herbs and spices, finished with fresh ginger masala)
    A dish which draws from the northern Indo Chino area.  Very tender chicken. Zingy and bitter so will not be to everyone's taste. Different, interesting and a reflection of Namaste's wide ranging cuisine.
  • Dingri Doolma (Paneer/cottage cheese with mushroom in onion, cumin, tomato gravy.)
    The Paneer looks like minced chicken! Flavoursome and different. Our Indian dining companions said this is a good version of this classic dish. 
  • Lamb Chettinadu (Boneless lamb flavoured with pepper, coriander leaves and curry leaves).
    Unfortunately, this dish did not make its way to our end of the table so I am unable to provide a photo or a taste review!

Overall, a great Indian meal in Lygon Street in Melbourne which is synonymous more with Italian cuisine. Namaste is definitely a place to recommend for affordable, delicious Indian food.

(Thanks to DF, one of my colleagues who was at this lunch, for his contribution to this review.)

 Front of the Restaurant

 Namaste Drinks Menu

 Chicken Kal Masala

 Pepper Chicken Chettinad.

Lamb Shukka

 Tandoori Chicken

 Saffron Rice
 Butter Naan
 Dal Spinach

 Murgh Dum Ki Biryani
Translates as Chicken Biryani!

 Ginger Chicken

 Dingri Doolma
(Grated Paneer/cottage cheese in tomato-based gravy)

 Another view of the front of Namaste

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