Thursday, September 23, 2021

Nataraj, Moksha and Janny Curry House: Three Indian Restaurants in Taipei

It's been awhile since I've updated my list of Indian restaurants in Taipei, but since then I've not only eaten at Joseph Bistro several times (get the fish marinated in lemon achar, the stinky tofu curry and the argan oil-scented lamb, I'm telling you) but also tried three new places: Nataraj near MRT Nanjing Sanmin, the Da'an branch of Moksha on Dongfeng Street, and Janny Curry House near Yongkang Street. 

These are already on my main list, but I wanted to add my impressions of each in a dedicated post, and then link it over there. 

Sadly, I've culled a huge number of photos recently and my actual pictures of the dishes at these restaurants don't seem to have survived. 

#75 Nanjing East Road Section 5, Songshan District 
MRT Nanjing-Sanmin

Nataraj offers a comfortable, modern space and excellent north Indian food. It's bigger than it looks: the storefront seems a bit narrow but the upstairs dining area goes back quite far. We went here for a group dinner so we got to try a variety of dishes, including a truly outstanding fish curry (this was awhile ago, so I forget exactly which one it was). Some of the chefs are from South India -- they came out to say hello -- so any southern-style curry is also likely to be good. 

The actual menu is pretty standard northern-style food: you won't find a surprise Chettinad Chicken or Goan caldine here. However, once difficult to find delights like paani puri and a variety of breads are available, and their samosas are proof that Indian restaurants in Taipei are really upping their samosa game. It once once easy to say who had the best samosas -- Calcutta Indian Food's lamb samosas, without question. Then, Calcutta moved and quality plummeted; we haven't been back since they served soggy broccoli and potatoes in a typical gravy and called it aloo gobi. 

Now, I'd actually have to think about who is the samosa champion (Mayur, Moksha, the Thali and Nataraj are all top-rate). 

#67 Dongfeng Street, Da'an District, Taipei
MRT Da'an (also walkable from the blue line)

I'm a bit lazy about keeping up with the Indian food scene in Shilin, because to be honest, it's a bit far. But now that Moksha has a Da'an branch, I've been happy to give them my business. Their samosas are excellent, and when they ask you about spice level, they actually mean it! We've had various curry take-out meals a few times now, and they do provide a "very spicy" (大辣) experience if you ask for one. Their butter chicken is some of the best I've had, and although I'm having trouble finding it on the menu, there's a Punjabi curry of fritters in a sour yoghurt curry that's just astounding -- I recommend it highly. 

I'll go even farther: their gravies are so good, and so varied, that they could be honestly described with words like lush and velvety. I cannot imagine that Moksha would dare serve me a wet aloo gobi with broccoli, as some restaurants have done. In fact, I know they wouldn't because I've tried their aloo gobi and it's just right: a drier curry with cauliflower and potato, fried up just right.

We've also eaten in at Moksha, trying out their South Indian menu. That, too, is excellent, with crispy paper-thin dosas. The decor is much fancier than at most Indian restaurants, with a great deal of heavy carved wood. This adds to the high-end experience, though they're not particularly expensive as Indian restaurants go. 

Janny Curry House 金華街咖哩屋

(temporarily closed due to COVID19 and family illness)

#4, Alley 1, Lane 199 Jinhua St, Da’an District - 台北市大安區金華街199巷1弄4號

MRT Dongmen

Located very near that weird building on Lishui Street that looks like a Buddhist temple but has a World's Gym inside (it's actually owned by Tamkang University), Janny Curry House isn't a standard Indian restaurant. Run by an Indian-Taiwanese couple, they have a simple menu: various things, in curry. There's fish, beef, chicken, lamb, vegetarian and (interestingly) abalone. You can get a curry with bread or rice, and there drinks on offer. 

Don't let the simplicity fool you: the curry itself is quite good. It sort of feels like someone is making a simple but tasty curry for themselves at home, and have invited you over for the meal. Don't come expecting fancy copper dishes and elaborate preparations; this is back-to-basics, but it's really quite nice. I expected, given the approach they'd taken, that the curries themselves would be too mild. That's not the case however. Mine was well-spiced and while not overly hot, it had enough heat to keep me happy. 

This is a great lunch option in the area, once they re-open.

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