Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Heaven Restaurant 波斯天堂

Address: 1, Ln 61, Hejiang St, Taipei (台北市合江街61巷1號)
Telephone: (02) 2517-1603
Open: Daily from 11am to 10pm.
Average meal: NT$350
Details: Menu in Iranian, Mandarin and English; credit cards accepted

By Ho Yi  /  STAFF REPORTER

Barbecued and stewed delicacies that tickle the taste buds.

PHOTO: HO YI, TAIPEI TIMES

Restaurants that offer exotic cuisines from faraway lands are usually among the most sought-after eateries due to their novelty and rarity. While Persian Heaven Restaurant can certainly benefit from its novelty value as the only establishment in the capital that offers authentic Iranian cuisine, the joint also pleases gourmets with good-quality food.

“We have 15 main dishes that are typical of traditional Iranian cuisine. It's like whenever you think of Taiwanese fare, you think of noodles,” said the restaurant's outrageously young manager who goes by the name Ali.

According to the 18-year-old, who is the eldest son of the Iranian proprietor, preparing barbecued delicacies is a time-consuming process. Meat is not ready for the grill until it is softened after being marinated for two days. A unique feature of the barbecue dishes is the Iranian seasoning powder called somagh, which packs a sour and salty punch.

The must-try on the grilled side is the barbecued chicken, lamb and beef. If you are a fan of saffron, the barbecued chicken breast is tinged yellow by the seasoning.

As for the stewed options, the Iranian haricot with assorted vegetables is cooked for six hours, and the marinated lamb is later added for another four to five hours of simmering at a low heat.

Haricot with eggplant is another highlight on the menu as Ali points out that lamb and eggplant are two favorite viands of Iranians.

It is interesting to note that the restaurant uses only meat that is halal, which is imported from Australia and New Zealand.

Given that Muslims avoid alcohol, the joint doesn't have a liquor menu but features the Iranian yogurt drink called Dogh, which is mildly salty flavor and tastes of peppermint. Dogh is an acquired taste; many clienteles say it tastes like liquid toothpaste. A more popular beverage among the locals is the ice tea with a pleasant strong cinnamon flavor.

The jolly, voluble manager is a devoted host passing from table to table, attending clienteles in this homely joint that can easily accommodate 80 people. Patrons can also relax at the outdoor seats and smoke scented tobacco through an Iranian water pipe.

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