In April the Oakham Curry Club headed into the depths of Pudong to the Meihua Lu location of Namaste. With March’s visit to the Indian Curry Hut seeing it jump into pole position for the 2019 Curry House of the Year (CHOTY) award, members were excited to see whether the journey to the end of Line 7 for Namaste would see a new leader crowned.
Customer care 7.3
Namaste’s customer care was on display even before we arrived – with a call during the day to reconfirm our booking and discuss seating; a private room was on offer but ultimately the management recommended seating in the main dining area due to our size. Beyond this, the staff was very accommodating to our requests, even turning down the music at one point to help us run our administrative affairs.
Likewise, the actual service of the staff was on point. With a relatively small floor space to cover, drink refills came thick and fast throughout the night – although this may have also been because we were seated right next to the bar. Food similarly came promptly, even when we ordered additional mains throughout the meal. The attentive staff and management here saw Namaste score an admirable 7.3 and 7.1 for customer care and service respectively.
The food itself was likewise very solid. We began with a selection of mutton kebabs, samosa chaat and succulent chicken tikka pieces. These all went down well, and the beads of sweat already emerging on some members’ foreheads set a trend for the evening, with Namaste delivering a pleasing level of spice that one member described as ‘a welcome change from the majority of offerings’ across the city.
This carried on through to the mains; where the butter chicken, tandoori chicken masala, dal makhana, aloo jeera and lamb kheema mutter offered a variety of flavours, textures and spice that left all members well sated. While all dishes were solid, the mutton kebabs and lamb kheema mutter in particular prompted compliments from the OCC brethren.
These compliments continued as we received the final bill; a figure of 250 per head for 14 hungry and very thirsty members was deemed excellent value for money, and Namaste’s result of 7.5 here was its highest across all five scoring categories. With news of the reopening of some venues previously panned by the OCC for poor quality, we hope that the rest of Shanghai takes note here that a delicious Indian meal can be provided at a reasonable price.
Scores of 7+ across customer care, customer service, quality and value should have had Namaste pushing for the coveted OCC Approved sticker – awarded to all restaurants with an average score of over 7.0. Unfortunately, the venue was let down by its atmosphere. Nestled in a corner shop on a stretch of what seem to be less-than-reputable bars on Meihua Lu, eating in Namaste can feel more like dining in a takeaway venue rather than a restaurant. With a small floor space and only a single bathroom upstairs, this may in fact be the case – but it means that it struggles to hold its own with other more welcoming venues. Although we only tested the Meihua Lu location, we do also note that they have additional venues that may yet address the issues with atmosphere.
Overall then, a less than flattering score of 5.8 for atmosphere means that Namaste returned an overall score of 6.9 – narrowly missing out on the 7.0 cutoff for OCC approval, and placing it out of the running for the 2019 CHOTY.
This is not to say that the OCC doesn’t see potential for the venue. With attentive staff and good food at a great price, Namaste is worth a trip if you are in the area and keen for a curry, but is not one that we would recommend heading across town for. The hunt for 2019’s CHOTY, therefore continues!