Namaaste Kitchen (Indian) – Camden Town, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu • Alcohol served
The last time we visited one of Chef Sabbir Karim’s establishments was back in 2017 when we rated Salaam Namaste in Bloomsbury, Camden, an above average 3.5/5.
Truth be told, we weren’t quite as enamoured as we thought we would be, particularly given his reputation, with a number dishes failing to live up to expectations.
This time it’s the turn of sister-restaurant, Namaaste Kitchen, that’s located in the bustling heart of Camden Town on Parkway, and boasts an Asian Curry Award 2014 ‘Best South Asian Restaurant’ in London.
With Sabbir having won Chef of the Year at the 2012 Asian Curry Awards, before tasting success again two years later when he was voted London’s ‘Asian & Oriental Chef of the Year’, we couldn’t help but enter Namaaste Kitchen with some level of expectation.
The place itself is smartly decked out, with Covid protocols in place ensuring that all tables are arranged a metre apart, a sanitisation station setup at the entrance, and all staff donned in appropriate PPE attire.
While the restaurant’s normal seating capacity is 60, it is currently operating at a reduced 45 covers. During lockdown 2.0, they’re offering 15% off both delivery and collection for orders made directly via their website (collection 12pm – 10pm; delivery 5.30pm – 10pm).
The Virgin Mango Crush wasn’t as potent, fresh and zingy as the ingredients appeared to portray. In fact, other than the mint and the meek ginger ale, this was a rather timid affair.
As for the Pineapple Coconut Medley, then this was more a gentle juice than a medley of pineapple and coconut. Just did not hit the notes we would have hoped for.
The Mango Lassie, on the other hand, was very well made, with the piquant undertone of the yoghurt managing to make this thick and frothy glass a perfect partner to any of the spicy dishes reviewed below.
Taste-wise, the Namaaste Royal Platter, with its trio of entirely contrastive elements, succeeded in taking our palate on a short journey across the plains of the sweet, sour and spicy.
Consequently, it was the dainty little tokri chaat that managed to land the knock out blow on us, with its delicately crispy tokri filled to the brim with a finely balanced mixture of precisely what you’d want from a chana chaat.
The interplay of the sweet and the sour, interspersed by those spicy moments, made for one of the best chaats we’ve had since Patri’s.
Based in a relatively dry, masala-marination, which succeeded in providing some mellow heat, the chops were perched against a mashed potato mound filled with mustard seeds.
As for the tandoori green prawns, then these semi-warm crustaceans were enveloped in a lightly spiced, minty marination, which actually managed to retain a soft chewiness.
An admirable Kathi Roll this, with those quintessential Indo-Chinese flavours, so indicative of that style of cuisine, fully present and accounted for.
As such, we had a vibrantly tangy sweet and spicy sauce that coated succulent strips of chicken, red onions, cucumbers, and slithers of green and red peppers, all of which went beautifully with the accompanying bowl of what appeared to be a watery coriander and mint dip.
The last time we had a Seafood Moilee was at Michelin restaurant Quilon, which entirely floored us.
Well, Namaaste Kitchen’s was just as good, if not better, with a curry base that had more body and depth of flavour.
Hence, while the subtle spices in Quilon’s maintained respect for the natural flavours of the sea, here the balance was so masterfully achieved, that we simply couldn’t get enough of the curry’s rich creaminess and spicy warmth.
The fact that this coconut inspired curry didn’t detract from the taste and enjoyment of the perfectly executed scallops, seabass, and king prawns, epitomised the chef’s intimate knowledge of spices.
Just be sure to order a side of Zaffrani Pilau before tucking into arguably the best curry we’ve had this year!RECOMMENDED
And this dreamily good Roasted Duck Chettinad only confirmed the chef’s mastery of spices, with a mustard-infused, tomato-based curry that tailed off with a hint of smokiness, courtesy of the clay oven roasting of the duck breast.
In fact, not only was its skin beautifully crispy, but the grating of coconut flesh over the top only ensured the addictive nature of these thinly sliced portions of fatty and chewy duck.
Although it’s true that some of the curry dishes had at Salaam Namaste three years ago left us disappointed, this time round, they absolutely nailed these two.
It’s biggest failing was down to the heavy-handed use of garam masala, which came through to hit the back of the palate, before inevitably lingering thereafter, with the accompanying raita unable to provide any respite.
And though the cooking of the lamb, with its soft and flaky texture, was this Dumpukht Biryani’s only redeeming factor, the entire thing, not withstanding the garam masala, was tediously uniform in taste. A real pity, because, as many of you will know, we do love our biryanis.
To break things up, we decided on trying one of their more recent menu additions, the Vegan Tandoori Vegetables, which comprised of an assortment of goodies all seemingly coated in a single, semi-dry, masala-based marination, which had a mildly spicy-cum-pickled taste and texture, before being charcoal grilled.
Thence, this platter wasn’t as varied in its flavour profiles as it was its textures – what with the baby aubergines, red and green peppers, cauliflower, chunks of red onions, and courgettes – culminating in a plate which, particularly given its size, quickly lost our interest.
Despite its creamy texture, this predominantly tomato-flavoured Dal Makhani not only lacked in spices, but was under-seasoned, thus making it a lacklustre side.
This may look impressive; but all those swirly layers only resulted in a Lachcha Paratha that turned out uber crunchy on the outside, but progressively underdone and doughy towards the centre. A definite case of style over substance.
These garlic and au natural naans, however, were superbly done, being served hot, crispy and attractively glistening in butter, with the garlic coming through true and strong.
The Chef’s Dessert Platter may seem like a hodgepodge of this and that, but all five elements were, in their own right, enjoyable enough for us to sample a good range of what’s on offer.
The cold was covered by the smoothly textured vanilla scoop, and the sharp, berry flavoured sorbet, whilst the hot was accounted for by the rich and gelatinous gajjar ka halwa, and the soft ball of gulab jaman, which was positively saturated in a piping hot syrup.
To round things off, we had a passionfruit cheesecake, which, surprisingly, turned out to be extremely nice given its premade origin, which we enjoyed along side a cup of English chai.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- JUST EAT
- UBER EATS
Although their beverages could do with some more thought and attention, the food was, baring one dish, largely quite impressive, making this a good option if you're in the area.
While the restaurant is, of course, currently in lockdown, they're offering 15% off both delivery and collection for orders made directly via their website (collection 12pm - 10pm; delivery 5.30pm - 10pm).
Note also that a discretionary 12.5% service charge will be added to your bill.
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