Naan-N-Masala, an Indian restaurant located on 94 Dempsey Road in Milpitas, California, has survived through two financial crises — one back in 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020.
The restaurant is located on the edge of a small plaza. Though the building is small, its colored floors and welcoming staff create a comfortable atmosphere. The restaurant, which is open every day from 11am to 10pm, serves both non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes.
Since the pandemic, Naan-N-Masala, like other restaurants, followed health and safety guidelines to continue operating their food service.
The owner, who goes only as TJ, said that he has yet to lay off a single employee despite the financial struggles caused by the pandemic. He thanked his loyal customers for that and stated: “We survived, we will survive no matter what happens.”
Asked how he chose the name, TJ said: “Your name of the restaurant should tell you what it is.”
As the name perhaps tells, Naan-N-Masala concentrates more on flavor than frill.
“Focus on food,” TJ said. “I don’t care about the decor. I don’t care about anything else… Just focus on food.”
For social distancing purposes I did not eat at the restaurant but bought a couple of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. Here’s my take from that takeout:
1. Chicken Tikka Masala ($11.99)
The masala is essential to Naan-N-Masala. Its famous chicken tikka masala is constructed of spiced cream sauce coating cubes of boneless chicken. At first glance the dish looks packed with ingredients of all sizes, and its fragrance is delightful. There is a coat of red oil at the top, with chicken chunks blended in.
The chicken is slightly dry, but compliments the rest of the dish well. The sauce is very creamy, which is great for those who love it. Additionally, hints of sweetness mixed with the savory parts make this dish refreshing to try.
The dish was wonderful in that the sauce was not too chunky but also not too runny. However, it was a little too creamy for my tastes and the chicken was a little dry. Nonetheless, those who love cream with some sweetness would definitely love it.
2. Chicken Curry ($11.99)
The presentation of the chicken curry dish is satisfactory, as a fine layer of oil coats the top, with chunks of tomato, spice, and chicken evenly dispersed into the sauce.
This dish is a mixture of garlic, chicken, tomatoes, ginger, butter, and other spices. Together, they create a creamy but savory taste that goes great with some fresh rice or naan. The dish is great for spice-lovers — it immediately kicks in at the start. The chicken is soft, and pulls apart easily, soaked in sauce.
This plate of chicken curry took me back to a year before, when my neighbor would frequently send us homemade chicken curry. Eating the dish from Naan N Masala reminded me of the bond my family and I had with our neighbors, as we would pass around food for others to try. The flavor of the curry gave me lots of feelings of nostalgia.
Naan N Masala was a delicious experience. Customer service was welcoming and the dishes generally matched my taste buds. Though I was not able to try too many dishes, I do wish to try more from the menu in the future.