Just like your subtly brilliant but sadly underappreciated performance as Wheel #3 in your kindergarten class’ rendition of “Wheels On The Bus,” Kastoori Grill tends to get overlooked in favor of the more eye-catching, in-your-face options around it. Most people just walk right by this place on their way to eat congealed salmon chowder the color of pepto bismol in Pike Place Market. But they’re making a serious mistake.
The Indian/Nepali/Tibetan food here is not only excellent, but consistently excellent at all times of the day, whether you’re stopping in between meetings for the $10.99 lunch buffet (complete with fresh baskets of naan and the greatest hits from the menu), just grabbing a casual dinner, or getting some palak paneer delivered to your apartment. Also, the soft serve mango ice cream gives Molly Moon’s a run for its money.
photo credit: Nate Watters
Kastoori is not particularly special inside - the walls are mustard and burgundy, and the linoleum-tiled floor makes the whole place look like a cafeteria. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re not coming here for an anniversary date or a business lunch with your corporate card. You’re coming purely for the food, from the tikka masalas to the spicy curries to the ridiculously good momo dumplings. (One thing about the space that does matter is that during the summer, the lack of ventilation makes it uncomfortably hot - so know that you should either commit to sweating onto your pakoras, or order takeout.)
Since Pike Place Market swallows a metaphorical horse pill of melatonin when the sun goes down, you’re essentially guaranteed to have no wait for a table here at dinnertime. Instead, you can take your time and enjoy delicious piles of chicken and paneer and curry and basmati rice, all swept up with hunks of garlic naan. Nothing you eat will be disgustingly pink, and you might even feel inspired to bring that Wheel #3 outfit out of retirement for an impromptu performance.
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Kastoori Grill has plenty of naan varieties, but this is the only one you need. Dip it in everything.
Steamed Chicken Momo
These Nepali/Tibetan dumplings taste like pot stickers crossed with samosas, and they’re so, so good. The steamed chicken momo have ground chicken, onion, cilantro, and some spices, and they’re served with a tangy tomato/cilantro dipping sauce. If you don’t order these, you are a fool.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Kastoori’s chicken tikka masala has a creamy tomato sauce that’s rich without being greasy, and the chicken here is never dry. If you can take it, order it medium-spiced for the best flavor - it’s spicy enough that your friends who collect hot sauces will be satisfied, and your wimpy friends will need a few gulps of water.
A solid palak paneer to add to your rotation - you won’t regret having this on the table.
Vegetarians, this is your order. Omnivores, this is so good it can be your order, too. The gobi aloo is a mix of cauliflower and potatoes cooked with cumin seeds, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, and ginger, and it’s crazy good.
Bhuteko Cauli Aloo
The Nepali version of gobi aloo. It’s the same gist, with cauliflower and potatoes, but it has more of a sauce - get it spicy and dip that naan in there.
Mango Soft Serve
You’d never guess that a quiet Indian restaurant on the outskirts of Pike Place Market would be producing such awesome ice cream. But this creamy mango-flavored soft serve is a fantastic way to end a dinner here. Plus, during the lunch buffet, it’s unlimited, and you’ll want refills.