Thursday, August 22, 2019

Restaurant Review: Oye Punjabi


Oye Punjabi
#121 Yanji Street, Taipei
Between MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Zhongxiao Dunhua (just north of Zhongxiao Road)

We stumbled across this place in our work neighborhood (I have several work engagements near Yanji Street and it's close to Brendan's main workplace) and are really happy we tried it out, as it seems to be relatively unknown in the Taipei Indian restaurant scene.

Of course, it has already been added to my Indian Food in Taipei page.

At Indian restaurants, we tend to order similar things so we can compare the same dishes across several purveyors (also, they happen to be our favorites). At North Indian places that usually includes a butter chicken - I was especially keen to order it as it's a popular Punjabi dish and this place has "Punjabi" in the name (Balle Balle is also explicitly Punjabi). The best I ever had was in Chandigarh (Haryana), an otherwise not-too-exciting city, though it has the Nek Chand sculpture garden which is pretty cool.

We usually get some sort of samosa appetizer - Oye Punjabi had samosa chaat (yay!) so we got that to start: 


Chaat is a sub-type of Indian snack food, known for being tart (thanks to the amchur powder found in chaat masala) and using a variety of crunchy things, chaat masala with lemon, chutneys and yoghurt. You can sprinkle or cook anything in chaat masala - idli chaat, crunchy cracker-like rounds usually topped with more crunchy things (like puffed rice or sev), papadum, samosa chaat, bhel puri (a favorite)...and then douse it with the chutneys - usually standard red and green - and yoghurt.

I don't get to have samosa chaat often, and this did not disappoint. It was heavy on the chili powder, but that's a good thing, and the yoghurt was nice and tart.

The butter chicken was creamier than I usually see, but as long as it has the requisite spice kick, I'm open to a butter chicken that goes for cream over tomato. The server (who may also be the proprietor, I'm not sure) asked us about our spice preferences in advance, which we appreciated. And she took us seriously - the butter chicken was mild and a bit sweet as it should be - and so creamy it almost reminded me of a sauce I might use for malai kofta - but had spicy undertones and a nice warmth. 


Another thing I really liked about the butter chicken was that it used dark meat, but boneless. (Bone-in butter chicken is common, but much messier to eat. Lean butter chicken is possible, but tends to dry out as white meat often does.) The sauce serving was also generous, giving you something to really douse your naan in.

The garlic naan was good, and on the Q side (a bit chewy, which I prefer). Quite moist and they got the most important thing right - real garlic. 


We went for palak paneer this time as we haven't had that in awhile. I tend to order it out because I can never get my own spinach to retain that bright green color (though mine tastes fine). The paneer serving was generous and it had a good spice level. Overall, I was happy with this (it's hard to wax rhapsodical about a dish as standard as palak paneer but trust me, it was good). 


Brendan got a mango lassi which I didn't get a picture of, and I had a hot masala chai, which I drank as the pouring rain came in. It came pre-sugared to a perfect sweetness level, and with a cinnamon stick to stir in there as long as you like until you reach the desired cinnamon level. I like a strong cardamom flavor to my masala chai but the cinnamon stick was such a nice touch that I didn't mind that the main flavor of this cup was, in fact, cinnamon. 


They have gulab jamun as well but we were too stuffed for dessert.

In addition to being conveniently located, it's also affordable (our entire meal came in at just over NT$1,200 which is a good price for that part of town).

All in all, we often meet in this neighborhood for lunch, and I'm sure we'll be putting this on our regular rotation (other favorites include Mamak, Burger Ray, Toasteria and Liquid Bread a little further down, and a few basic Taiwanese places).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this review! If I'm not mistaken, Oye Punjabi and Balle Balle are sister restaurants. The restaurant decor, menu design, and shared dishes look almost identical at first glance. Balle Balle does have the more extensive menu though.