Namaskar NX – A Restaurant Review
It all started on a poor note actually. I was on an exploratory quest of restaurants in my locale to host my birthday bash. I was quickly able to shortlist two options in the form of The Royale MasterChef Lounge at Dahisar and Namaskar NX at Borivli West. Namaskar emerged tops for the following reasons. Food quality, proximity, moderate music volume, value for money.
It is not as if there is a dearth of competition in the area, but it was Namaskar that presented the best choices to meet my requirements. That it is known for its biryani is common knowledge. Its coastal fish preparations are a good bet too, as much as its mutton dishes. However, these weren’t the only reasons why I picked this venue.
So allow me to first recount my bad to good experience here. For one, I had landed at the restaurant before its evening opening hours. Not evidently its fault, but that I was kept waiting almost 45 minutes with an assurance of the owner being on his way was exasperating. The restaurant manager was on leave that day, and while the wait wasn’t a big deal, I found their assurance every ten minutes about the owner being “just five minutes” away baffling.
When he eventually turned up, Sean, which is the owner’s name, naturally became the victim of my rasp for which he gave a patient ear. It was soon after I’d delivered my vexed piece that I learnt that he was misinformed about a banker who was waiting for him and not a customer. He’d assumed it was a bank salesperson who was waiting and naturally wasn’t in a hurry to meet. Well, I was willing to forgive the makeshift manager his gaffe despite having clearly explained that I’d talked to the restaurant owner a couple of days ago and had indicated that I’d stop by during the week. On hindsight, I wonder what gave the makeshift manager the impression that I was employed at a bank, but it’s pointless now to quiz that. Patience with a capital P, is key to customer handling.
Know what clinched my choice eventually? It was Sean’s ability to transform my thoughts into food choices. Quite often, I prefer to interact with marketing managers of restaurants as they are, in my opinion, better equipped to interpret the customer’s verbiage. That I am voluble is an advantage but even volubility can overwhelm a diffident restaurateur or for that matter a smug one.
Dialoguing with restaurant managers can help, provided they are well informed about their products. On the flip side, they could be too cocksure for comfort. Some tend to play the bending backwards card a bit too obviously. To please a prospective or existing customer is an art without having to smile like the concierge in Dunston Checks In. Too much eagerness can be stifling, too less can be disenchanting. In a bid to rattle away its restaurant’s features, there is a tendency to miss the finer nuances of a customer’s simple query. No, I prefer to not engage with owners directly as, despite their obvious ownership rights, not all are equipped with the strategies of promotion, or sensitive handling of a mixed customer base. An ownership card doesn’t necessarily qualify an owner to communicate effectively.
However, in the case of Namaskar restaurant, Sean was a fine example of ownership with a difference. He was easy to interact with, understanding the finer points of my choice. He may have assessed me as one with a decent spend budget but one who wouldn’t accept a deal not worth the spend. Here’s what he chalked out as my birthday crafted menu, which as you can see wasn’t elaborate but decent enough for a party of sixteen members.
1. A Manhattan-based Mocktail
- A fresh assortment of citric juices along with mango and berry juices, poured over crushed ice layered with lime juice.
2. Cocktails and imported alcohol
3. Unlimited soft drinks and mixers
4. Lemon Chicken Martini
- Boneless chicken skewered and sautéed in lemon sauce with fine sliced peppers, served in martini glassware
5. Surmai Tava Fry
- Palm-sized whole slices of king fish, marinated in Konkan masala and tava fried to a finger licking smack
6. Rangh Tandoori (leg of mutton)
- The hind leg of goat, marinated in black pepper and coal-roasted with a fine layer of butter. This was a special dish which allowed everyone to carve from the mutton and serve themselves
7. Chicken Biryani
A long-grained rice, cooked with aromatic chicken, spices and caramelized onions
8. Cucumber Raita
- A yoghurt-based finely chopped cucumber salad with a sprinkling of powdered roasted cumin.
- A fluffy steamed milk-and-eggs flan, with caramel sauce, which could have been sweetened down a tad
10. Matka Kulfi
- Everyone’s favourite and friendly chilled dessert
I was offered a tasting of the menu, which I declined except for caramel custard, which I found too sweet for my liking. The caramel sauce was far too watery, but then that’s what tastings are about. To taste and revise. If the revised result turned out perfect, that’s all that matters.
I was grateful to be allowed the use of the entire 25-seater area for a 16-member party; that sure was a generous offer! What made me jubilant was to have been allowed to bring my own alcohol at no corkage except for a flat charge for unlimited mixers. There was piped music playing at decent decibels, which is integral to my refined ears. There is nothing that can put me off more than ear-splitting music and bands shouting their lyrics as if from the rooftops. I mean, a good conversation is fundamental to most of my events, even at the cost of playing no music at all. Having said that, not having music at my parties is like showering without soap. I was pleasantly surprised to be asked for a choice of my song artists to play from Spotify. However, I was in luck that 75 per cent of my invitees were singers and musicians who didn’t necessitate the use of Spotify. Being able to carry a tune myself helped. Charging points for a mobile and a laptop made it handy to play karaoke music from.
The thing that may miss most people’s attention is toilet hygiene; it sure was scrubbed clean with antiseptic cleaning solutions in anticipation of a particular customer. There was a bit of a plumbing leak that I hope is fixed by now.
The event took off by 9 pm and went on till past 1 am. With a glass partition barricading our group from the rest of the diners in the main restaurant, we enjoyed a privacy of our own. The monsoon season allowed a dress code to be casual to semi-casual (read shorts and mini skirts). Two senior musicians, one associated with a studio and another with a band, played the guitar as jazz and pop singer friends chipped in. We started on a crazy note, quite literally as someone took off on Patsy Cline’s Crazy. The song defined the party as it grew wild and mad like the name of the song, with laughs and gags from amusing one-liners. Everyone got along famously with the other but then I pat myself on the back for being able to bring together cohesive people. That’s the idea, to make everyone get along famously as if they’ve known each other forever.
I must add that the restaurant captain was genial; I couldn’t help but notice that he appeared like an eager bellboy but being genial is a good customer service trait. The stewards were attentive too, after a clear directive to be alert in taking and serving orders with precision. How much ice or water to a whiskey serving, or orange juice or vodka refill to a diminishing glass, or when to bring in the starters and who to not miss serving. There were a few slips now and then which shows that a little more training or experience is necessary. With a bit of supervision though, it went well but I’d rather have preferred efficiency with no or minimal supervision. All in all, the service compares more than favourably with other restaurants in the area.
The restaurant ambience is casual, and its location has mixed reviews. It has prime surroundings at one side as well as shanties on the other. In the rainy season, its name board tends to get hidden from view owing to a rain canopy over it. These are but small anomalies from an otherwise terrific experience at Namaskar!
My ratings for Namaskar: Food & drink 8/10, value for money 8/10, dining experience 7/10, ambience 6.5/10, service 6.5/10, locale 6.5/10