Nov 6, 2011

Taj Indian Restaurant


Taj Indian Restaurant is an Indian restaurant nestled in the east district located near the Fuxing Breeze Center. They provide traditional north Indian cuisine in many different levels of set meals. The curries here are not as pungent, aromatic, and spicy has the south Indian cuisine. This place would be fitting for a consumer that likes lighter curries and can not accept the regular stronger spices commonly associated with Indian Cuisine.
Phone #: 02-8773-0175
Business Hours: 12:00-14:30, 17:30-22:00
Website: Taj Facebook Page
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Price Range:   $$$
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 3 out of 5
Decor:  3 out of 5
Service: 2.5 out of 5
Overall: 2.83 out of 5
Recommendation: Try other Indian restaurants before this one.

The interior of the restaurant is decorated with a lot of Indian artifacts. The decor is themed with vibrant colors associated with the many hues in traditional Indian clothing. They have an interesting bartop area with a TV streaming Bollywood movies for the bored customer to get some visual stimulation. Their decor is ok and passes as an average restaurant in this area. Their service to us was not ideal. They have one waitress serving the whole restaurant so things were really slow, and if we needed something they took forever to respond. I ended up getting up from my seat and going to the bar to ask for things myself. Also, the kitchen might not be well prepared to handle 16 customers because my request for additional naan took forever. Their decor and service aside, they have a couple set meals starting from 290 NT which only differ by more or less amounts of curry and sides like samosas. I tried the 350 NT set meal that comes with Mutton Curry, Bhindi Do Pauaja (okra onion curry), Dal Tarka (Bean Curry), Naan, salad, soup, and a rice pudding dessert.
The soup was a rather plain tomato soup. It had the freshness and sweetness of the tomato suffused over the light slighty frothy broth. This was a very good start to a promising set meal.
This is the 350 NT set meal in its full glory. Instead of getting a half naan and rice, I decided to get a full garlic naan. I was impressed by these different canisters of curry and sides. But it didn't take long into the meal that I realized that they don't give you enough naan to actually eat the whole set of this curry, so if I ever go next time I will need to get more rice. Moreever, the amount of curry in each cup enough for a bowl of rice, so you will end up eating a lot of food if you really wanted to finish each portion. Also if you want to pair your meal with naan, the meal will end up being expensive because each sheet is 80 NT and I would need 3.5 sheets of Naan to pair with all these curries.and the Sadly, the naan lacked substance. It was not semi-flakey and Q, but was more doughy and semi crispy.

On top of that, the curries themselves weren't as thick, dense, spicy, and aromatic as the Indian cuisine I am familiar with. These curries represent the north indian style which Gordon Ramsay notes is not filled with as much powdered spice and tastes ligher in his Great Escape. Yet, i'm not sure if its really because of northern indian cuisine, but somehow I felt the curries lacked strength and character:
First up is the mutton curry. The pieces of lamb were excellent: very tender and flavorful. The curry had a bit of heat with it, but the other spices were not brought out. It was more like a lamb soup than a hearty curry in my opinion. Maybe this is the type of curry that is more authentic, but each bite did not linger in the way more full-bodied curries I have had in the past. I am wondering if this is a result of Indians catering to the Taiwanese pallete. The pakistani/Indian curries i've had in California had an unmistakenable aroma that your tongue carries away after you're finished with your meal. This failed to do that, and it failed to get mopped up by pieces of naan. Also, with the lack of Naan, if you had to drink curry as a soup it just doesn't fare that well.
The okra onion curry was also another dish that was ok for a while with naan, but too empowering if you had to eat it like a soup. The okras themselves were cooked just right, not too soft, not too hard, with the mucusy interior infused with curry. This only had a bit of spice, but this curry also lacked the pervading character of Indian curries that I like. I am not an expert of Indian curries so I am not sure how to explain what spices are lacking in these dishes, but it just doesn't taste the same, smell, the same, nor feel the same. The textures soupier than it should be. Also, without enough naan or rice, lapping this up as a soup isn't so appetizing.
 This one is the Dal Tarka (Bean Curry) which is kind of like a light chick pea soup.  Quite bland with the subtle taste of the beans. I did not finish this curry because I personally like stronger fuller flavors and a light vegetarian dish like this seemed to be a waste of my 80 NT sheet of naan.
 They also give you a side of this yogurty thing, which I do not know how you can eat the whole thing without getting sick of the very acrid taste with each spoonful. Its not creamy or smooth, but liquidy and acidic. This is another side I could not get used to and only tried a few spoonfuls of.
The next cup contains their "salad" which is a medly of diced onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. It was more like they gave you a cup of half-assed salsa and had the audacity to call it a salad. Or maybe this is what they perceive as a legitimate salad in their part of the world.
Lastly, their rice pudding dessert. This was like a 西米露 or tapioca rice pudding. It was sweet, creamy, and filled with chewy rice bits in it. This side reverberated with my tastebuds and was an easy dessert to down after cup after cup of salty and spicy curry. All in all it was an ok meal, but not so memorable that would make me want to come back, especially since the prices are kind of expensive. It would cost about 500 NT for this set plus 2 extra sheets of naan, so it is not that cheap. For curry, I would still need to peruse around this island for something that has a better value for frequent return visits.

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