Nine months ago, four members of The Arrow staff met up at Namaste Spiceland, a hole in the wall, vegetarian, Indian restaurant located deep in an enclave of Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Cultural differences aside, one thing remained clear: our mutual love of Indian food. With the end of college applications and the school year winding down to a close, we finally had the opportunity to go back last Friday… for purely journalistic purposes, of course. But in that gap, Namaste Spiceland has been completely redesigned on the interior, and boasts its own building, just a few blocks away from the original location.
Unlike most sit down restaurants, Namaste Spiceland is half-kitchen and half-grocery store. The newer model has more of an American flair and provides a more spacious seating area for those dining in. Even more immense is the supermarket side which has ample space for grocery aisles, allowing an even wider range of products to be sold. The unique duality of the restaurant and grocery store allows for customers to search for the spices they’ve been meaning to buy and munch on a samosa while they shop.
From curry mix to Henna dye, traditional Indian wares are sold, and customers can get the rest of their grocery shopping out of the way as well with the store’s assortment of other common goods like milk, eggs and ice cream from Indian manufacturers.
Besides fresh produce, the authentic cuisine of Namaste Spiceland is unmatched by any other quick-and-ready Indian food in the area.
Upon entering, the aroma of Indian spices filled our lungs. Namaste’s vegetarian curry ranges from mild to spicy featuring an assortment of meat substitutes from garbanzo beans to potatoes to cheese. The beauty of Namaste’s curry and Indian curry in general is its ability to enhance food with blander flavors, such as rice or bread. The Arrow favorites included roti dipped into the paneer, and chana drizzled over plain white rice.
The curries were thick and creamy, which ended up being extremely filling, especially in combination with starch-heavy side dishes. The vegetables and legumes contained in these curries were perfectly cooked and seasoned, giving the illusion of the sustenance that any meat dish would provide. Although none of our group would consider ourselves vegetarians, all of us agreed that the absence of meat in our meal was nothing to be lamented due to the meat-like texture that was provided from other ingredients in the curries.
The restaurant offers up dishes a-la-carte, but each of us chose from their combination menu which allows customers to pick either one, two or three of their favorite items alongside rice, roti, chapati and a samosa with dipping sauce. The portions on the combination plate were generous, giving a thorough sensation of each dish, and the samosas were large in size, packed with potatoes and other vegetables. If you don’t believe us when we say they’re good, try one for yourself. Marc Andrew even ate three.
Other highlights from the menu included the mango lassi, which is a cold, mango flavored Indian beverage with the texture similar to that of a regular smoothie. Its sweet flavor perfectly contrasted the spice of our meals, leaving us feeling refreshed.
Topping off the incredible quality of the food and enjoyable location, the homey atmosphere of the restaurant is genuine and inviting.
With Namaste Spiceland being a popular restaurant and grocery store among the Indian community, English is not the primary language of the establishment. The employees often interact with each other and customers in their own language, adding a sense of authenticity to the restaurant as a whole, unlike more Americanized foreign food restaurants. Despite dialogue not being primarily in English, the employees were down-to-earth and friendly with us, answering questions happily when they arose.
Even the method of ordering is distinctive from that of most other restaurants in the area. Customers order their food and eat first, then pay at the counter once their meal is finished, making the customer feel as though they are paying for the experience they’ve been granted rather than a plate of good food.
Namaste Spiceland checks all the boxes for what defines a great restaurant due to its high-quality produce and friendly, habitable atmosphere. Students and families should be sure to check out its new location on 821 Thousand Oaks Blvd for not just the authentic Indian cuisine, but also a warm experience.