Sammamish’s only Indian “restaurant” has always stood out on NE 8th Street across from the Sammamish Highlands Shopping Center.
Mommy’s Kitchen, from the outside, resembles a ranch-style house that can be found in a Sammamish neighborhood. It is not a traditional restaurant, because it has never offered a dine-in option—only catering and takeout.
But what makes this outpost of desi cuisine so unique is its aptly chosen name, which reflects the fact that a multi-generational family, the Walias, runs this business and lives right behind the kitchen. The Walias believe that everyone’s mom is their go-to person for all things, and especially food. The women of the clan reign over their kitchen. Hence they chose the name “Mommy’s Kitchen,” or “Ma ki Rasoi” in Hindi.
The Walias have been in the food business for several decades, and stayed in Kent for about 20 years before moving to Sammamish to avail their daughters of better schools. Encouraged by praises from friends and family of their cooking, Sonia Walia and her mother in-law, Urmila Devi, decided to share the delicious food from their own kitchen with their new community. Considering that both commercial and residential rents in Sammamish are quite high, the family decided to build a home with a full-size commercial kitchen attached.
“We will not serve anything to our customers that I won’t serve to my family,” said Rohit Walia, Sonia’s husband and the head of operations at Mommy’s Kitchen.
Originally from the northern states of Haryana and Punjab in India, the Walias opened Mommy’s Kitchen in October 2018 with an intent to not only serve homestyle, north Indian cuisine, but to do it with the philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava (guests are equivalent to God).
This means serving quality food at a fair price so that eating healthy and delicious meals is also stress-free for their customers, especially in times when many people are stretched thin by work, family, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though they do offer meat dishes, Mommy’s Kitchen truly excels in vegetarian food. Rohit Walia’s mother, Urmila Devi, specializes in mouthwatering deserts such as Gajar Halwa, a carrot-based sweet dessert pudding, and Gulab Jamuns, a north Indian delicacy made from milk solids and sugar syrup. Sonia Walia, who serves as the head chef, has trained under Chef Tony Gemignani. Her specialties are North Indian savories such as Chole Bhature, a spicy and tangy chickpea dish, as well as Paneer Tikka Masala—both staples of Punjabi cuisine.
Catering was a major part of their business. They cooked for events such as weddings, and catered corporate clients including Microsoft, Amazon and T-Mobile. Business was booming until COVID-19 hit last year. The catering side of their business cratered, but their takeout and delivery business kept them afloat.
“We are about 40% down in sales, but are content serving the community,” Rohit Walia said.
Just like other dining establishments, Mommy’s Kitchen adapted to the pandemic by following public health guidelines to protect the safety and wellbeing of their customers and staff. Use of masks and gloves are mandatory, and employees are all required to frequently wash their hands, use sanitizers and maintain social distancing as much as possible. Given their business model already minimizes public interaction, the adjustments were relatively minor. Customers and food delivery workers can do contactless pickup from a table placed outside.
The Walias have stayed away from setting up on-premise dining, citing that it takes more effort to manage a dining area. They have chosen to focus their energy on what they believe they do best—cooking good quality food. According to Rohit Walia, they use only high quality ingredients, such as roasting fresh eggplants in-house for their Baigan bharta (mashed eggplant) and staying away from canned eggplant.
“We just want to concentrate on the quality of our food and our preparations from start to finish are just like what we do at home,” Walia said.
Mommy’s Kitchen is located at 23024 NE 8th Street in Sammamish. You can make orders on their website, or call them at 206-371-1427.