The first restaurant review I did for CBC Edmonton AM was of Narayanni’s, a family-owned restaurant just off Whyte Avenue. It was September 2010. I hid my little notebook under the table and peppered the owners’ daughter, Youmashni, with questions. She was so gracious and patient, and while her mother was out of sight in the kitchen cooking, papa was on the floor bussing tables and making sure every guest had what they needed. His smile never left his face.
In that regard, nothing has changed in 10 years. When I went the other day, the whole family was there to greet me with warm, wide smiles and arms just itchin’ to hug. That this restaurant is still in operation and still run by the same family, is a testament to the food, the family’s work ethic and the support of Edmontonians who have come to adore Mama Naidoo’s cooking, Papa’s delectable desserts, and Youmanshi’s hands-on, genuine caring of the customers.
But like so many restaurants affected by COVID-19, Narayanni’s has been hit hard, too, and just like everyone else, the owners have had to reinvent their concept to ride the wave out of the economical mess this pandemic has caused.
Now, instead of the buffet, food is ordered cafe-style at the counter and customers sit at tables well-distanced from others. The friendly attention is still there and the quality of the food has not faltered—Mama still uses ingredients from the farmers’ markets; the proteins are grass-fed and free-range, and vegan and gluten-free options are still wildly popular and available although the menu, overall, has been scaled back.
I forgot how freaking delicious the masala chicken is (I ate it before taking a picture, oops) and how rich and hearty the cream-free curries are. If you haven’t tried Narayanni’s yet, this is a good time to offer your support by dining in or taking food home.
And the pastries and baked goods? As delicious as always. If you’re not down for an entire meal, this is a lovely spot to stop in for a pastry and coffee (or my favourite, the chilled pistachio chai) after an afternoon of strolling Whyte Avenue.
Narayanni’s is located at 10131 – 81 Ave in Old Strathcona. They are currently open from 4-8 pm, Tuesday through Saturday although that might change, so call them first at 780-756-7112.