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Friday, March 25, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

Nearly faster than you can say "samosa," vegetarian delights

Special to The Seattle Times

Namasthe Cuisine of India


Indian

$$

16650 Redmond Way, Redmond; 425-558-7858 or www.namasthecuisine.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

No liquor license / major credit cards / no obstacles to access / no smoking.

Rating: recommended.

When restaurant service is acceptable, reviewers often give it a passing phrase like "quick and friendly." Well, there's quick and then there's Namasthe Cuisine of India, a vegetarian restaurant in Redmond.

Here's how it went: We told the waiter we were still deciding on our entrees, but we wanted to try the Assortment Mix Platter of appetizers. "I'll be right back," he said, and he was, in about one minute, with the platter (see below). OK, maybe it was three minutes, but it seemed as though he had decided we looked like people who needed a good Assortment Mix Platter, so he got one started for us when we walked in. The rest of the meal arrived, if not instantly, then with admirable swiftness.

The menu at Namasthe is wide-ranging, running from all manner of breads, soups and appetizers to entrees served atop sizzling hot platters. There's a healthy selection of curry-and-rice combos as well as eight-course thali meals ($13-$14) that begin with a samosa and end with syrupy desserts such as rasgulla and gulab jamoon.

Namasthe is set in a strip mall on a one-way section of Redmond Way that makes it a little tricky to find. If you're coming from the west, get off 520 at Redmond Way and turn left; the restaurant will be on the right.

Namasthe is not only vegetarian but certified kosher, and two of the six thali-meal options are vegan. I would like to report that this means you'll find unusual and surprising vegetable dishes at Namasthe, but in truth it's more like a regular Northern Indian restaurant with the meat removed. You won't encounter any vegetables more unusual than okra. This is not a bad thing, since the main draws at any Indian restaurant, in my view, are the sauces and the bread.

No meat-eater is going to leave hungry and no vegetarian will be disappointed by limited choices.

No one is going to complain about slow service, either.

Check please:

Assortment Mix Platter: This speedily delivered appetizer plate featured various vegetable pakoras and a samosa, all nicely deep-fried but not greasy; I especially liked the eggplant, whose silky interior contrasted nicely with its crisp jacket of breading.

Aloo Kulcha: This version of naan bread stuffed with potatoes and dried mango was properly crisp, chewy and tangy, but the filling was so subtle you could miss it. Plain naan, at a dollar less, is eerily similar.

Mushroom Masala: Button mushrooms, bell peppers and onions are among my favorite supporting vegetables, but they are hard to take seriously as a main course — unless, that is, you serve them with a spicy tomato cream sauce. I suspect this type of dish was created to entice diners weaned on spaghetti sauce, but I don't care. It's hard to hold back from sopping up more of the sauce with naan or rice.

Baingan Bartha: This plate of spicy eggplant and onions was thick, dark and rich, as if to remind the eater that in Indian cooking, rice is the main dish and the rest are considered condiments.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Assortment Mix Platter $5.99

Aloo Kulcha $2.99

Mushroom Masala $8.99

Baingan Bartha $8.99

Mango Lassi $2.99

Strawberry Lassi $2.99

Tax $3.06

Total $36.00

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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