The perfect Indian dining experience in Taipei is hard to find. Some of the city's long-standing South Asian joints may boast great service and authentic fare, but overall dining experiences yo-yo from the fabulous to the forgettable.
Lovers of South Asian fare have a new friend, however. Opened two months ago, Pravin Kapoor's Cafe India may be the new kid on block, but it has already made a lot of friends.
And if the 25-year veteran chef continues to provide excellent service and truly tasty fare, then Cafe India could surpass its rivals and become the diner of choice for those with a passion for authentic Indian cuisine.
Tastefully decorated with a minimum of fuss and clutter, Cafe India puts more emphasis on providing a relaxing dining ambiance rather than proving its Indian-ness with gaudy travel photos of well-known South Asian landmarks. Its relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect destination for diners in need of a quick lunch fix, as well those looking for an evening of fine dining.
While many of the prices are on par with the national average of NT$300 per plate, Cafe India has slashed the cost of enjoying a vegetarian Indian meal. Paneer, or Indian cottage cheese dishes are the pricey vegetarian dishes and costs an average of NT$320; but many other vegetarian dishes cost as little as NT$180. When you take into consideration the price of nan bread and rotis (NT$75-NT$40) it means that if your wallet is not that big, then you can still enjoy a few of Cafe India's 15 vegetarian dishes for a few hundred dollars.
But it would be shame to miss out on the meat dishes and here Cafe India doesn't disappoint, either. Offering a choice of 19 lamb and chicken dishes, ranging from sagwallas to dopiazas and from masalas to tikkas, all are authentic, richly spiced, and cost between NT$220 and NT$380.
No visit to Cafe India is complete without sampling one of its tawas, however. Drawing their name from the concave iron hotplates used to prepare them, the joint's dry, spicy pepper, onion and tomato-laced cubed lamb or chicken masala tawas come in six varieties and cost from NT$260 to NT$350. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, then lamb liver, lamb trotter and lamb brain masala tawas are available on request.
Along with its modestly priced a la carte menu, Cafe India also offers diners the chance to sample an assortment of fare every Saturday and Sunday with its competitively priced NT$400 buffet lunches.