Off and Up Out

Just a quick update to let everyone know that it’ll be pretty quiet around here for the next few weeks.  I’m headed out on vacation, but don’t worry, I’ll be back at it early next month, so check back then!

Osprey

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#127: Namaste Nepal

I went to Namaste Nepal tonight for dinner, arriving at about 5:30PM.  I’ve never thought much about this restaurant, located in the far back corner of Roseville Square at Douglas & Harding.  I think because I had been to this location a long time ago when it was a Chinese buffet and had a bad experience.  Since then, at least one more buffet has come and gone.  I took note when Namaste moved in but didn’t pay it much more attention than that, almost waiting to see how long it would be before they also went out.  Fast forward to just about last week and I noticed they were at the top of some kind of Yelp list, and right around then I also get a recommendation from a reader to check it out.  Intrigued, I noticed a good opportunity to see what they’re all about tonight, so I did.

I was joined by my mom and we headed in.  Just inside is a good sized waiting area with a couple comfortable looking seats and a large fountain, which was a little low on water, but was trickling.  Another doorway in and we were greeted quickly by one of the friendly servers.  The dining room is very large and pretty nice.  There are booths along the outer walls and tables in between.  It goes back quite a ways, but the dining room stops about halfway in.  Past that point is a server station where they get all the drinks, and further back is a large buffet area.  They weren’t doing the buffet for dinner tonight though.  From what we could gather from the signs out front they run it for lunch during the day and on Wednesday only for dinner.  We sat in a booth near the front and were served water as we opened the nicely bound menus.  They have a PDF menu on their website, though for some reason they have not yet updated it with the Roseville location.  I looked at both the Davis and Rancho menus and they seem to be nearly identical.  I noticed that the menu here had a couple additional dessert items, so there may be a few other differences as well.

As we looked it over a different server came by to see if we were ready or had any questions.  We needed a few more minutes, but I ordered a mango lassi in the meantime.  An appetizer was served up as we continued to look.  I’ve seen this at a few places now.  It’s a crisp, chip-like thing that’s apparently called papadum (thank you, Google).  Along with it came mango, mint/cilantro and tamarind chutneys.  This was the first time I’ve encountered the mango.  All three of these were delicious on the crunchy papadum, which itself hinted of cumin.  Soon the mango lassi arrived, and it was HUGE.  Biggest one I’ve ever seen by far.  Sadly, it was not quite up to par with just about every other one I’ve had.  It was smooth and creamy, but the flavor which was good seemed somewhat subdued or watered down.  Others are much richer and just little sips yield a ton of rich mango flavor.  I did notice later on while watching the server prepare another that it came from a carton.  Perhaps it’s not made in house at Namaste Nepal, who knows.  The size kind of made up for it, but I would have preferred a smaller, richer lassi.  We decided on our entrees just as the server came over and joked that she wouldn’t be coming back another time.  We placed the order and off she went.

It took 15 minutes from there for our food to be prepared and brought out.  I should note that there were just a few other tables seated while we were there.  It was about the same throughout our time there.  As for staff I only ever saw the two servers, who seemed to be working together on our table and likely the others as well.  We had three things come out at once: butter chicken (roasted boneless chicken, cooked with herbs and spices in a rich creamy tomato sauce), sahi paneer (homemade cheese cooked in butter based rich creamy sauce) and cheese naan.  The naan was hot and fresh.  I thought it was just as good as plain naan.  There wasn’t a whole lot of cheese to it, just enough to notice and go “hey, there’s some cheese in this naan.”  I peeled one apart a bit to see if I could get a photo, but it didn’t look all that different.  So cheese naan: “meh.”  Naan in general: thumbs up.

The sahi paneer was a golden-yellow colored sauce.  Both it and the butter chicken were served with white rice.  A good amount of soft, cubed cheese swam in the thick sauce.  It was very creamy and quite delicious.  The butter chicken had more chicken in it than the sahi paneer had cheese.  They were a bit bigger overall and there seemed to be more pieces.  The chicken was tender and juicy.  Now the sauce, oh man, the sauce!  Wow, the moment I took my first bite of this I knew it was the best thing we had tonight.  It was almost overwhelming how rich and flavorful the tomato-based sauce was.  I thought both dishes were great but this was something special.  We both used the ast of our naan to scoop up the remaining sauce in the dish at the end.

I couldn’t leave without trying one of the desserts I saw, but I was somewhat full, so I opted to take it home.  I ordered the mango mousse cake, which was one of the extra items not on the website’s menu.  After a short trip home I cracked it open and went to town.  I found this to be fairly disappointing.  It was clearly a frozen item to begin with.  It wasn’t quite thawed evenly, so as I worked my way through to the thicker end it got colder and more like a sorbet than mousse.  The flavor was OK.  Nothing really special though.

The entrees and the papadum were excellent overall and rival every other Indian restaurant I’ve been to in Roseville for sure.  The mango lassi could definitely use an improvement and I won’t be ordering the mango mousse cake again any time soon.  I don’t often order dessert at indian restaurants anyway though, so I’m not factoring it in very heavily to my final thoughts of Namaste Nepal.  Overall I was very impressed with it, particularly considering this location’s track record.  I know I will be back for the buffet at some point since this is one of the closer Indian joints to me.  I’m glad to have finally tried this place.

Website: http://www.namastenepalrestaurant.com/

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#126: Taqueria Los Altos

I stopped by Taqueria Los Altos today for an early dinner after work.  I had both an early and somewhat small lunch so I was pretty hungry.  This place has been recommended to me by more than one reader so far and it’s been in the back of my mind lately.  It’s located right next door to Sweet Stuff Cakery on Foothills at Vineyard.  Notable in the exterior photo is the blue Ford Taurus LX (Lic: 6LJV152) that nearly took my bumper off in the parking lot and then illegally parked in the handicap spot so he could rush into Metro PCS.  Nice.

I entered at about 4:30PM to a nearly empty restaurant.  There was a guy waiting for takeout and a couple more just about ready to leave further in at a table.  It’s a fairly small place but it’s nice inside, nicer than a lot of taquerias.  Actually now that I think about it and look closer at the interior design, I would bet money that this used to be a Taco Del Mar at some point.  It’s got the hut, surf board table, and the stools and bamboo styling are exactly the same.  Anyway, I looked at the menu for a bit while the one guy working waited patiently near the register.  The way it’s laid out you have to walk past the register by about 5-10 feet to get a good look at the menu.  I bet this can get crowded and awkward when it’s busy.  I already knew I was ordering their carnitas plate and mostly just wanted to confirm it was there and see what the description said.  Other than saying above that “All plates are served with rice, refried beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and tortillas (corn or flour)”, it was a pretty basic menu.  The seem to have some items that I don’t usually see elsewhere like lengua (beef tongue), buche (hog maw[stomach, I had to look that up]), tripas(beef tripe) and cabeza(cheek meat), among other things.  I think that’s pretty neat, and any other day I probably would have tried a couple tacos, but I was starving, it had been a long day already, and I was ready for some delicious carnitas.  They seem to be open breakfast on some days, if not all, though I didn’t think to look at the hours on the way out.  They have some breakfast items on the menu and mention menudo being available on weekend mornings.

I ordered the carnitas plus some sour cream and picked a mango flavored Jarritos from the cooler behind the register.  This is the first time I ever tried one of these brightly colored fruit flavored drinks.  I took a survey recently that focused heavily on Jarritos marketing and it got me interested in them.  After paying, I claimed the big, round table near the front.  The Jarritos was a lot more carbonated than I was expecting, I guess I wasn’t thinking soda so much as fruit juice.  It was really good and pretty refreshing.  It was a good choice for one of our warmest days yet this year.  I’ll definitely be checking out some of the other flavors next time I see them.  Within minutes my food was being brought out to me.  He set my plate down and then, seeing that I hadn’t grabbed any, pointed the chips and salsa out to me.  They are on opposite ends, the chips down further into the restaurant and the salsa bar up front by the soda fountains.  I noticed there was no sour cream on the plate, reminded him about it and he quickly realized he forgot it and delivered it to my table while I was getting my chips and salsa.

I grabbed a little of two different ones.  The runny, smokier kind I usually stick with and one more that was thicker but didn’t look to be really heavy with tomatoes, which I tend to avoid.  The latter was excellent.  It was a lot more flavorful than I expected and had a good little kick to it.  The chips were were nothing special.  My carnitas plate was steaming hot.  The beans were very good and had much more flavor than most of the taquerias I’ve been to so far.  The rice was soft and was decent overall.  I mixed these together with the crisp shredded lettuce.  The guacamole was a little on the runny side but was OK.  My corn tortillas, which were wrapped in foil in a separate basket, were very hot and soft.  As for the carnitas, there was a lot of it.  It was an interesting mix of mostly very tender pieces of meat.  Some were crisp aound the edges, which I love.  Some were pretty fatty abd were also some of the most flavorful bites.  A couple pieces here and there were a little dry.  Overall it was a really good plate and I ate every bite.

I spent a bit over $10 for my food and the Jarritos, which is right about on par for this plate most places.  The guy (possibly owner) was really nice and struck up a bit of small talk here and there as he worked.  I left with a full belly and was generally quite happy.  It’s not the best in Roseville, but I think it’s very good.

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

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