Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Himalaya Indian Restaurant

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Only a few years ago, it would have been possible to start this review by pointing out how hard it was to find a real Indian restaurant in Taipei. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.

But Himalaya, which last month opened a branch off Shida Road, is one of the oldest. And it’s still one of the best at serving northern Indian dishes, both in terms of the quality of its meals and the variety of selections on the menu.

Its owner Deepak is the kind of chef who looks like he enjoys his own cooking. He’s been in the business for a quarter century, having worked in Saudi Arabia, Japan and Hong Kong. Fifteen years ago he answered an ad in Mumbai to work at the old Taj Restaurant on Songjiang Road. The money was good and he liked Taiwanese culture, so he stayed.

“Now when I go back to India, I need a visa,” Deepak said as he proudly displayed a Taiwanese citizen’s ID card, his hands stained red from preparing tandoori chicken.

He still imports most of his spices from India and is planning on bringing in an Indian chef to work at his Shida branch, where he currently spends mornings before leaving to supervise his the other restaurant located at 20, Alley 6, Ln 170, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4 (台北市忠孝東路四段170巷6弄20號). Few people seem to have discovered the Shida location, so Deepak is currently offering a 20 percent discount on all purchases. This offer has over a month to run, hardly enough time for even a frequent customer try everything on a menu that features 70 entrees and appetizers, 17 varieties of naan and roti, four soups, eight biryanis and other rice dishes, and nine desserts.

Deepak recommends the tandoori chicken (NT$260), which he marinates in yogurt and spices before cooking.

Also popular are the butter chicken (NT$360), samosas (NT$110), the mutton kadaise (NT$380) and the baigan bharta (NT$230), or eggplant mashed with an array of Indian spices and mixed to a velvety consistency.

For drinks, the best option is Kingfisher (NT$110), a solid summer beer that handles itself well with spicy food.

Himalaya offers two lunch set meals. The filling Indian luncheon features a chicken, lamb, fish, prawn or vegetarian curry, along with vegetables, naan bread and a drink (lassi, milk tea or orange drink) for NT$160 to NT$170. The food coma-inducing Taj Mahal commercial lunch (NT$230 to NT$310) adds to this a serving of tandoori chicken and thin papadam masala bread.

This reviewer found both lunches excellent, with the notable exception of the drinks. Lassi was not available on two occasions, and the milk tea did not pass muster.

Address: 3, Ln 105, Shida Rd, Taipei (臺北市師大路105巷3號)Telephone: (02) 2367 1313

Open: Every day from 10:30am until 3pm for lunch and 5:30pm until 10:30pm for dinner

Average meal: NT$160 to NT$700, plus 10 percent service charge

Details: Menu in Chinese and English; credit cards currently not accepted

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