Namaaste Kitchen is a classic curry house with modern décor, traditional food and friendly service. Grilled meats and fish are specialities on a menu that takes your taste buds on a tour across the Indian subcontinent.
It’s easy to miss this award-winning restaurant, just five minutes from Camden tube. Although chef-patron Sabbir Karim’s reputation continues to grow (with accolades including best chef in both the British Curry Awards and the Asian Curry Awards in 2013), and Namaaste Kitchen was also shortlisted for Best Restaurant in London, the venue itself is small and unassuming, hidden up Parkway between Camden and Primrose Hill.
Namaaste Kitchen welcomes you into a warm environment with slightly quirky, almost galactic, light fittings and simple table settings. Service is understated and informative; waiters will happily guide you through the menu and also make wine recommendations. Whilst the clientele are mostly couples, those in small groups are housed in cosy booths at the back of the restaurant near the chef’s grill, which is a great spot for watching the progress of your dinner.
The menu is slightly overwhelming, if only because everything sounds so delicious. Gluten free diets are particularly catered for with their extensive gluten free menu, including spicy soft shell crab (£5.95) made with rice flour batter, or gluten free dum pukht biryani (£13.95).
A starter of grilled Hyderabadi lamb escalope (£5.25) promises to 'pamper your taste buds’. Whilst the scattering of grated coconut is a creamy contrast to the dark, spiced marinade, the lamb is slightly overcooked. Peri peri grouse (£5.50) sounds like some kind of Portuguese Scottish intrusion but it's actually an aromatic Goan marinade with notes of chilli and citrus over the gamey meat, served with soft sticks of potato chat. Chowpatty bhelpoori (£3.95) is a type of Mumbai street food that tastes like a party on a popadom. Peanuts, spiced puffed rice and pomegranate seeds are piled on a crisp base, and drizzled with yoghurt. Tricky to eat in one go – but it’s worth trying.
The mains are a range of curried dishes from across India, including roadside cafeteria-style kidney keema from Pakistan, Goan xacuti lamb, or chicken with a Chettinad marinade from Tamil Nadu. But it's the grilled menu that really sets this restaurant apart. Grilled whole seabass (£12.95) tastes of summer holidays in Kerala; crisp skin holds the smoky flavour of the grill, while delicate white flesh is infused with raw coastal spices. Eat with cardamom rice or one of their soft buttery paratha breads.
Lahori tawa lamb chops (£11.50) from Pakistan are marinated with papaya and a rich garam masala sauce, served with a fluffy garlic naan bread. Keralan seafood moilee (£14.95) is a sumptuous pile of creamy rice with grilled mussels, squid and butterflied prawns, served in a beautiful scallop shell.
After such a feast, assorted sorbets (£3.50) are a light relief of tropical fruit flavours. For something more left field, try one of Namaaste’s signature carrot samosas or coconut almond rolls on the dessert platter (£4.95).
A small selection of red and white wines are available by the glass, with bottles starting from £13.50. The Chilean Casa Sauvignon is a good match with grilled seafood dishes as it has slightly sweet citrus notes and a dry finish. Dessert wines are available by the half bottle, or you can simply enjoy a coffee, tea or fresh mint infusion to finish off your meal.
The Last Word
A refined and friendly Indian restaurant, Namaaste Kitchen has an inspired menu that expands the palate. You may need to return just to try dishes you missed the first time.