Thursday, August 22, 2019

Restaurant Review: The Thali


The Thali
Donghu Road #24-1, Neihu District, Taipei

(Near MRT Donghu)
Reservations recommended, easy to book by messaging them on Facebook

I hadn't gotten a chance to write up the Indian restaurants we've tried recently, but I've finally made a few minutes to get this done and keep my Indian Food in Taipei page up-to-date.'s the first of two reviews (the second, just below, is for Oye Punjabi on Yanji Street).

The Thali is a well-regarded newcomer to the Taipei Indian food scene, though it's a bit far from central Taipei (tip: take the Blue Line to Nangang Exhibition Center and transfer to the brown line - taking the brown directly across Neihu takes forever). We liked it so much, we went twice - once to try their South Indian food, and once for the North Indian-style curries.

These are the lamb samosas but the vegetarian ones look similar

All in all, I give this place top marks for well-made food and being sensitive to customers' spice preferences. If you want milder Indian food, you can request that. If you're a chili fiend like me or just like more spices in general, you can ask for that too.

Right now the South Indian dishes are limited - basically, you can get thalis (it'd be smart to pre-order) and dosa, including masala dosa. Both of these come in super-size iterations as well, though we stuck to the regular-sized masala dosa. It was good - on the papery/crispy side with well-spiced potato filling. The chutneys and sambar were excellent, and I was really happy that the selection included tomato chutney. I know coconut chutney is the classic choice, but I've just been a tomato chutney girl since I discovered it was a thing sometimes served with idli/dosa.

The management says that they plan to roll out more South Indian menu items in the future, but are starting slow in order to ensure quality, which I appreciate. 


We also tried a variety of appetizers - the samosas are great, and they have minced lamb samosa which is rare! We tried both regular and lamb, and liked both, though I have a slight preference for lamb because it's so hard to find. Samosas are served with the classic red-green chutneys (tamarind-date red, and coriander green - though sometimes it's mint). I really appreciated that; a lot of Indian places around the world leave out the tamarind-date, but that's the one I like more.

Not only did it come with tomato chutney, it was good tomato chutney! 

They also have paani puri and dahi puchka, two snacks I always order when they appear on menus. Paani puri requires you to break the fried puffs and put some curried potato and then spiced water inside before popping the whole thing in your mouth. Dahi puchka operates on a similar principle - liquidy stuff in a fried puff that you have to eat immediately - but uses spiced yoghurt instead of water and comes pre-filled.


Plus, they have Kingfisher (when in stock) and falooda! Falooda you guys! Falooda! With its cold milky ice cream and chewy stuff reminiscent of shaved ice, I would assume this favorite of Iranian origin would be a hit in Taiwan but it's actually really hard to find. They have several flavors, including the classic rose (we tried mint and liked it).


On our second trip, we went North Indian, and that was great too. We tried butter chicken - I always have to make sure the butter chicken is good - fish vindaloo and baingan bharta (baingan masala on the menu - it's mashed eggplant curry), with garlic naan. Of course, we always get garlic naan not only because we love it, but because I need to make sure that the naan is made with real garlic, and not that gross, sweet garlic spread. We had a paneer kulcha too, because I hadn't had a good kulcha in a long time.

All of it was excellent - again, the staff were attentive to our spiciness preferences, with the butter chicken being milder and sweeter as is usual. 

This is the paneer kulcha, not the naan (the naan was also good)

The baingan masala was, if anything, hotter than the vindaloo, though we liked it quite a bit (maybe don't ask for this one at maximum hotness, it was almost at my pain threshold, and I have quite a spice tolerance). The vindaloo had clear garlic and vinegar undertones, as a vindaloo should. They make their vindaloo with tomato here - mine uses onions as the sauce base and contains no tomato - but a version that includes tomato version is acceptable.

All in all, a great choice. Perfect if you're in the area, and actually worth going to Neihu for if you're not. 

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