4.5/5 stars, $8–10 lunch specials, $15 dinner plates.
I wouldn’t describe myself as having had the best of weeks. And so, like many distinguished sad humans before me, I decided to seek comfort in food. Needless to say, I feel much better. And if you’re craving a good mix of comfort and quality, I’ve got a place to recommend.
At 65 Howe St., House of Naan is only a few steps north of Chapel Street and an easy walk from campus, particularly the area of Pierson and Davenport colleges. A trim combination of black, silver and copper tones marks the storefront and transitions smoothly into the interior decor. A well-stocked bar area lends a modern, urban air to the clean and comfortable aesthetic.
I arrived at about 30 minutes past noon for both of my two visits in as many days, entering a nearly empty restaurant (a plus for those introverts out there!). The hostess/waitress was great; the service strikes an excellent balance of friendly, efficient and unobtrusive.
My companions and I took advantage of the lunch special on both of my visits, offered from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is an extremely generous offer, allowing you an appetizer, a choice of protein and sauce, chana masala, rice, and naan, all for $8–10. The portions are generous; having overstuffed myself on my first visit, I found that splitting one lunch special with a partner was just enough for us both to be pleasantly satisfied.
Whilst the siren song of samosas drew my attention both days (They’re excellent, if you were wondering), I also managed to sample several other appetizers. The soup and salad, both gluten-free options, were fresh and tasty, although I found the decidedly glutenous cheese pakoras more my speed. The relatively simple base of the paneer cheese was an excellent vehicle for the mint filling (pro tip: the tamarind chutney offered with the samosas is a great addition). Also worth mentioning is the mango lassi for an extra $4, served in a fun tilted glass, with a pleasingly strong mango flavor.
The chana masala, which is the only non-negotiable part of the meal, is strong enough to stand as an entree in its own right, although perhaps a bit too spicy for diners with gentler tongues (the spice of the main dishes is adjustable). Certainly, it is light years beyond the Yale Dining version, so if that is your only experience with this delightful chickpea, onion and tomato in gravy dish, be prepared for a pleasant surprise.
For my protein selections, I had the obligatory chicken tikka masala and the chicken vindaloo. Both are exquisite. Big, tender morsels of chicken float amidst fragrant and rich sauces. These wonderful dishes come with the basmati rice and naan, two generous slices of the stuff. And the naan is as good as you might expect from a place with it in the name. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself amazed at how quickly you can eat large chunks of chicken and how much of a struggle it is not to lick your plate clean.
Overall, House of Naan really delivers as a solid value for lunch out. While $10 for lunch might seem like a steep barrier to some Yale undergrads, especially when the notoriously underpriced Mamoun’s lies 30 yards north, the combination of size and quality makes this a worthy splurge. Basically you get a three-course meal for $10, which could manage to fill two average starving college students pretty reasonably.
Outside of lunch, House of Naan has a dinner menu, with plates averaging around $15. They also have an appealing bar, and with daily hours lasting until 1:00 am, House of Naan could make for a great spot to hang out with good food on Friday night or to catch some late night samosas.
Still, the lunch menu remains the strongest value, bringing lots of good food to you at a surprisingly low price. And having personally eaten there both in times of literal sorrow and out as a date, I can assure you that this modern take on traditional Indian cuisine has the depth and variety to make you glad that in the game of life, you chose food.