WHO’S IN CHARGE Never mind the strip mall and forgive the hot-pot burners in the tables at the booths; they are a vestige of a past restaurant in the space taken over by Namaste Nepali and Indian Cuisine in Stoneham.
Namaste, which opened in December, is a diamond in the rough. You’ll marvel at its existence and secretly not want others to find it, but then it’s so good you’ll want everyone to know — the food is that delicious and the service that welcoming.
“Namaste means warmly greeted by heart to the guests,” said Hari Kafle, the manager. Kafle spent 10 years managing Rang Indian Bistro in Stoneham and three years at Monsoon Indian Bistro in Acton before Namaste. Seven partners share ownership in the restaurant, including Kafle’s wife, Tha Kumari Kafle.
Narendar Singh, a native of Punjab in northern India, is the head chef and also an owner. The other partners are from Nepal.
THE LOCALE A dry cleaner and laundromat flank Namaste in Montvale Place, a small strip mall a stone’s throw from Interstate 93. There is plenty of parking. Inside, booths and tables occupy a quaint space with hardwood floors and white walls decorated with Indian artwork.
The night we dine, no music plays, but laughter emanates from a nearby table of women. We sip Malbec wine ($6.50 by the glass) and our server brings us a treat: complementary pakoras — bites of fresh vegetables deep fried in chickpea batter. It’s a hospitable gesture we adore; plus they are delicious. The person who waits on us is attentive, kind, friendly, and helps us navigate the vast menu of Nepalese and Indian dishes.
Telltale signs of past restaurants are seen on the cocktail list (Taj) and on the foyer glass (Kyotoya), but that’s also the charm of Namaste. While branding may not be top of mind, yet, the food speaks for itself.
Namaste also has a full liquor license.
ON THE MENU Nepali chef Bhim Lal Shrestha works alongside Singh. Shrestha’s nickname is “Momo King.” We can see why. Our handmade veggie momos ($5) were silky smooth wrappers stuffed with minced vegetables. A soybean-tomato-ginger-tamarind mixture made an unusual yet delightful dipping sauce.
The chicken Kashmiri ($14) held the wonders of a sauce made with shredded coconut, ground sesame and fennel seeds, star anise, and javitri or mace. The Khasi Ko Masu (goat curry, $16) — a Nepali dish — delivered a classic curry of ginger and garlic, onion, cardamom, and other spices. The meat was flavorful and bone-in, so diners beware.
The Aloo Gobhi ($13) was a wonderful blend of spices with potato and cauliflower. The basmati rice was fragrant with whole cloves and the plain naan ($3) soft and chewy.
How lovely to end with Kheer ($3) — a cool, creamy rice pudding with cinnamon and pistachios.
Namaste Nepali and Indian Cuisine is open Tuesday through Sunday. A buffet lunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ($12 weekdays, $14 Saturday and Sunday). Dinner is 5 to 9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Namaste Nepali and Indian Cuisine, 58 Montvale Ave., Stoneham, 781-438-9688; namasterestaurantstoneham.com.Naomi Kooker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.