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Nov 6, 2007 04:50 AM

Namaste Cafe- Petaluma

Run don't walk to eat at this wonderful new gem in Petaluma. Namaste Cafe serves Indian and Nepalese food. The owners call it gourmet and they are right. The chef uses the freshest ingredients and his culinary school experience shows. Presentation is wonderful. It is located in a strip mall next to Jerome's Barbecue (also the mall with the OSH hardware store). The outside is unassuming but the inside is gorgeous a mix of wonderful oranges and browns, comfortable seating, spotless bathroom. The kitchen is partially open so you can see some of the creations being made.
My favorite so far is the lunch buffet (all you can eat for 8.95)-- very fresh salads and simple desserts accompany the buffet. My favorite dishes so far ar the Nepali Momocha (steamed four dumplings stuffed with minced lamb in a tomato sauce), Palakh Murgh (creamed spinach and succulent chicken) and Tandoori Murgh. My ten year old gave his approval to the Mango Lassi. I loved the Masala tea. Vegetarian and fish dishes are available. They are located at 1390 No McDowell Blvd., Ste, A Petaluma CA 94954 (Redwood Highway and No McDowell close to 101) phone 707-664-9245, open Monday through Saturday lunch from 11:30 am- 2:30 pm and Dinner 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

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  1. It is great to hear about a new South Asian restaurant in our neck of the woods that is really good. Especially so - since being really shocked and dissapointed by what many consider to be the 'best' in the North Bay (Sizzling Tandoor), jaded by the cheap fast food option (Tandoori Express), and forced away by the prohobitive pricing of another (Kebab & Curry) [4.50 for rice alone!].

    I am interested to check this one out - so thank you for writing it up. So far my favorite Indian/Nepali restaurants have been Annapurna and Taste of the Himalayas (Sonoma) which both have a Nepali bent - so I am intrigued to compare.

    A Nepali friend at work has reccomended Shangri-La near Sonoma State - so I need to check that one out as well. A fellow Chowhound, Elise has also mentioned new Nepali restaurants in Cotati and Sebastopol - so it seems like there is a renaissance of sorts occuring. This begs to question about perhaps a growing Nepali demographic in SoCo.

    Do you recall any other Nepali specialities other then momos on the menu?

    7 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      I'll second your friend's recommendation of Shangri-La. I've never had a meal there that I didn't really love. The people there are really friendly and service is very efficient. I'll be very interested to hear what you think, as you are more familiar with this cuisine than I.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        Shangri-La is also a nice place-- very mellow staff and atmosphere-- but the food is not as spicy (not just hot but the mixture is more complex in taste components) as Namaste. Both have comparable pricing. I am sure there is a Nepalese influx....

        1. re: drmimi

          Really? Namaste's food is even spicier than Shangri-La? Well, I always request "very spicy" at Shangri-La, and it is always as spicy as it could be for me to be able to taste the flavors. (And I am generally thought to have a pretty high tolerance for hot.) I'm really looking forward to trying Namaste!

        2. re: kare_raisu

          What new Nepali restaurant in Cotati?

          1. re: Scott M

            This must be shangri-la --which I swuung by today on off hours to check out. They seem to be one of the few N-bay restaurants to offer chaat appetizers and typical (Dal-Bhat) Nepali dishes. I also swung by Namaste Cafe - and liked their menu a lot -they offer a smoked lamb nepali appetizer that seemed interesting.

            I think a Nepali chowdown is in order - I would like to check out Shangri la first.

            In the same complex as shangri -la is also a neat looking Korean BBQ place and a Shwarma joint called Sahara.

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Sounds like lamb chuela at Namaste. I poked my head in there a few months ago the first time drmimi mentioned it, and meant to return soon, but haven't made it yet.

              Looking forward to an update, haven't been back since around the time Shangri-la opened three years ago. Here's my old post with some photos,

              The Places database has "Nepalese" as a cuisine category. I've entered all the ones I'm aware of, coming up with 15 restaurants in the Bay Area. Sonoma County has 5; Berkeley has 6 (two opened in the last year); and San Francisco has 4 now with one new spot as well. There's also an Indian resto in SF called Spicy Bite that is allegedly Nepali owned but it promotes itself as Indian cuisine. If anyone knows of others, please enter them in Places so we can keep track of all mentions on the board in one spot on the Nepalese "hub" linked here,

              Annapurna Restaurant
              535 Ross St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

              Namaste Cafe
              1390 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA 94954

              1706 E Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

              Taste of the Himalayas
              464 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

              Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House
              969 Gravenstein Ave, Sebastopol, CA

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Went back tonight for another meal at Namaste. This time a celebration dinner with 8 other friends including two boys - one my son. We prepped the menu in advance so we would have food ready when we came in . The vegetable pakoras were fab, enjoyed the samosas again. We also had three vegetable dishes prepared vegan style - no cream-- one with roasted eggplant, one with mushrooms , another with peas-- all were fabulous. Also had a lamb dish, two kinds of chicken (tandoori and masala curry). We were stuffed (initially 11 were to be there) and had enough leftovers for two of us (the celebrators) to take home copious amounts of chapati, naan and leftover food for a meal each. Total meal came in under 140 dollars for our party. Reasonably priced and very good value for the money. Namaste can hold up to 42 people and is a great place for birthdays, anniversaries and holiday parties. Come on down. You might see a short Black woman and her kid with wild hair eating at one of the booths hopefully trying out the fish dishes. Namaste has definitely become my favorite go to place in Petaluma.

        3. Here's an update on Namaste Cafe some five months on after the last reply. This place continues to delight, thanks to a very conscientious and dedicated owner/chef and head cook. I've eaten at nearly all the Asian restaurants in the north bay area, and I can assure you that Namaste is among the very few which represent their cuisine faithfully and with imagination (simultaneously). They do that extra little bit in the kitchen, and it shows.

          One simple but revealing example---the Nan bread. Often at area Indian eateries, it is a dry, lifeless, overcooked slab. Here, however, it is light, buttery, and multi-layered in the right places, a perfect vehicle for picking up the complex and enchanting chicken curry that is served at their buffet lunch most days. This is mainly because they make orders fresh constantly, rather than let them sit in a heating tray. It is efforts like these that make all the difference.

          True curry fanatics will understand me when I say that the above-mentioned curry is a curry you can get lost in. The multiple spices actually stand out, discernible. It is rich, yet not heavy with ghee. It conjures visions of exotic places. To my palate, this is the ultimate Indian curry (or is it Nepali?). The only one to top it in my experience was a korma served at a northern Indian-Afghani restaurant I fondly recall from 28 years or so ago in Redondo Beach that is long since extinct.

          Another extremely simple dish that serves as an indicator of Namaste's attention to small important details is its Dal (thick lentil soup). At so many other places, this will be a bland, boring gruel, but in the hands of Namaste's chef it is a delicate and sublime dish with two or three significant flavor layers and a pleasing yellow-orange hue.

          I have had many other things at Namaste Cafe, but won't try to review them all here. You will have to go and find the things that become your own favorites. Trust me---if you can spot quality, this won't be hard for you to do.

          1. Noticed in this weeks North Bay Bohemian (free newspaper/magazine) that Namaste Cafe uses a quote from Chowhound in their ad, attributed to Chowhound, although I think it might be a paraphrasing of DrMimi's review (don't have the paper in front of me right now)...anyhoo...thought it was interesting that they did that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chocolateninja

              yes it is interesting--
              I know the owners and the chefs-- but they didn't ask me first.
              I don't mind because I think what I wrote was well deserved.
              I have been noodling over a piece for the First Bite section ever since the place first opened... seem to miss the deadline each week.
              Ever since the positive Press Democrat review they have been super busy!
              I wish them ALL the best. It is tough enough to have a successful restuarant, especially tough now with the economy.
              The lunch buffet is still an AMAZING buy but I heartily encourage asking for a side of momos.