Persian Heaven, which opened five years ago, stands out on Taipei’s dining scene as one of the few places to sample Persian cuisine. Founded by an Iranian businessman, the dining lounge on Nanjing East Road (南京東路) features regular belly dance performances. Subdued lighting, loud music and cabinets filled with knick-knacks like busts of ancient Persian kings add to the fun and slightly kitschy atmosphere.
For an extra NT$150, most entrees are available as set meals, which are a bargain if you want to get a sampling of Persian Heaven’s expansive menu. Each set comes with a full-sized salad, soup, appetizer, side dish, dessert and drink, in addition to the main course.
We paired ghorme sabzi, or stewed beef cooked with split peas and vegetables (NT$370), with an order of Iranian bread (NT$60). Made from white flour, the bread was thin and chewy, like a tortilla, and not particularly memorable. The beef in the ghorme sabzi was juicy and the dish would have gone better with Persian Heaven’s saffron polo (NT$80), or white rice flavored with fragrant saffron.
The upbeat-sounding triple happy kebab king (NT$530) features a skewer each of beef, lamb and chicken and is probably the most attractive dish on the menu, with the gleaming chunks of meat set off by a colorful assortment of vegetables. The meat was succulent but had little seasoning, so we made sure to douse each skewer in limejuice to set off the flavor. On a separate visit, I ordered the meat and seafood combo kebab (NT$550), which came with two meaty, perfectly grilled tiger prawns, along with lamb (beef is another option).
Most of Persian Heaven’s salads use potato as the main ingredient, including the delicious chilled salad Olivier (NT$100), in which the tuber is diced and mixed with celery and chicken. There are only two appetizers. The seafood plate (NT$100) is a patty of chilled mashed potatoes served with a steamed prawn and garnished with relish and dill. It was OK, but the heaven chicken roll (NT$100), a light crepe stuffed with chicken and garnished
with a savory cream sauce, is much better.
Persian Heaven’s soups are passable, but if you aren’t ordering a set meal, I suggest skipping them to save room for dessert. Made from semolina and butter and flavored with honey and saffron, the hal wa (NT$80) was surprisingly delicate instead of overpoweringly sweet. The texture was like a thick pudding, making the treat a great comfort food. It tasted especially good with a glass of tart lemonade, which came with the set meal. Another good bet is the thick, creamy rice pudding (NT$80). It was complemented by a glass of cinnamon-y iced Iranian tea (NT$120, also available hot).
Our servers were uniformly polite and helpful on both visits, but we waited half an hour for our main entree (the triple happy kebab king) on a busy Sunday night — enough time, in fact, to watch the cheerful belly dancer teach two diners how to roll their hips. Dinner on a weekday moved at a quicker pace — each course was served as soon as I had finished the previous one.
Address: 2F, 6, Nanjing E Rd Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市南京東路五段6號2樓)
Telephone: (02) 2767-1661
Open: Weekdays 5pm to 2am, weekends 5pm to 4am. Call ahead to confirm belly dance performances
Average meal: NT$400 to NT$700 Details: Chinese and English menu, credit cards accepted
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