Category Archives: 5 hearts

dessert/night market: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰)

date august 8, 2014
contact Ningxia Night Market in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd. (in front of Family Mart)/台北市大同區寧夏路35號前(全家便利商店斜對面)
hours 17:00 to 01:30 (closed tuesdays)
price 70NT for shaved ice with two mochi balls
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt MRT Zhongshan Station exit 2 (捷運中山站2號出口) 
website Linji’s ipeen page (Chinese only)

One of the things I love about Taipei is that there is always something kind of random, but totally delicious to try. On the recommendation of a friend, my out-of-town friend and I went in search of the sesame peanut mochi shaved ice at Ningxia Night Market.

To get to Ningxia, take the red line (Tamsui 淡水) to MRT Zhongshan station (捷運中山站), which is only one stop north of Taipei Main Station. Exit out of exit 2 and make a right, heading west down Nanjing W. Rd. (南京西路), toward the Starbucks. Continue down Nanjing W. Rd. for about 10 minutes until you hit Ningxia St., where you will see the entrance to the night market.

Ningxia is predominately a food night market. So, if you’re looking for something savory before the sweet, have a look around, there is plenty there.

The mochi shaved ice is located at Linji Mochi (林記燒麻糬), which is stand number 97. According to Linji’s ipeen page (the Taiwan equivalent of Yelp), the stand is located in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd., directly in front of Family Mart. When we found it, the stand was located near Family Mart, but on the other side of the street. Either way, you’ll need to keep an eye out for it.

The stand sells mochi and shaved ice, as well as other traditional Taiwanese-type desserts (i.e. peanut soup [花生湯] and red bean soup [紅豆湯]). However, we went with one very specific mission: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰). The menu is on the stand and pasted onto the tables in Chinese and Japanese (no English)  with pictures, which should make ordering easier for non-Chinese/Japanese readers.

Based on what I could gather when ordering, how big the portion of ice is depends on how many pieces of mochi you get (refer to the menu photo). The more mochi you order, the larger the portion of ice. I think this is because they base the portion off one mochi per person. We opted to get two pieces of mochi (one sesame, one peanut), which cost us 70NT. If you choose the one mochi, one flavor option, it looks to only be 40NT. You can choose between sesame and peanut flavor. Which ever flavor you choose will determine what is sprinkled atop your ice. The mochi, which you can see being boiled at the stand, is quite large and is cut up into smaller pieces before being served. The ice itself is a milk ice, so it is a bit sweet, but we both thought this added to the richness of the overall dessert, which is one of the reasons it is so good.

Basically, I highly recommend giving this a try if you: a) like mochi, b) like shaved ice, or c) you want to try something a little special. I would recommend getting a mochi of each flavor so that the ice is half sesame, half peanut, but really, do whatever your heart (stomach) tells you, you can’t go wrong.

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food at a glance: vegetarian mushroom congee (香菇粥)

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date july 30, 2014
contact No. 381, Sec. 1, Neihu Rd., Neihu Dist., Taipei City/台北市內湖區內湖路一段381號
hours [weekday lunch] around 11:30-14:00 (or when sold out)
price small bowl 35NT :: large bowl 45NT
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt MRT Xihu Station (捷運西湖站)

I love congee. I grew up on it and I can be quite picky about what kind I like. For instance, I prefer traditional Taiwanese-style congee with just rice and sweet potatoes to Cantonese-style congee loaded up with century eggs (皮蛋) and what not. Despite this, I must say I really like the vegetarian mushroom congee from the little vegetarian cart near my office in Neihu.

At MRT Xihu station, take exit 1 and head east on Neihu Rd. (內湖路)  towards the Cosmed and Starbucks. The unnamed vegetarian stand sits between Hearty Dental Clinic and Pizza Hut (which is No. 381). You’ll see a table out front and a sign in Chinese with the character 素 (sù), which means vegetarian.  Aside for the congee, they also have vegetarian mushroom mianxian (香菇麵線), which I get quite often because it’s delicious, as well as rice dumplings (素食粽子), curry rice, miso soup (味噌湯).

The congee comes in two sizes: small for 35NT and large for 45NT. Inside the congee is black wood ear, shitake mushrooms, taro, tofu, carrot, pickled daikon radish (菜脯), etc. If you like spicy foods, like I do, ask them to add some chili sauce (加辣)–you only need a little, as a little goes a long way.

food at a glance: sawasdee | thai-style sweet pepper chicken cold noodles (椒麻雞涼麵)

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date july 27, 2014
contact No. 10, Alley 4, Lane 286, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Road, Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區羅斯福路三段286巷4弄10號/02-2368-4300
hours 7 days a week [lunch]11:30-14:00/[dinner]17:00-21:00
price <NT300
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt Gongguan MRT (公館捷運站)

Read my original review of Sawasdee.

July in Taiwan means the whole country is your own personal outdoor sauna. This also means cold noodles are a perfect way to enjoy living on the sun. One of my favorite things about summer in Taipei (other than mango season) is that it is time for Thai-style sweet pepper chicken cold noodles (椒麻雞涼麵) at my go to Thai restaurant, Sawasdee.

In general, I love the sweet pepper chicken at Sawasdee — I get it often. But during the summer they do something a little different: they stick the chicken on top of a bed of cold noodles. For 100NT you can get a delicious plate of these cold noodles, which comes with a cup of soup (their usual is a daikon radish broth). The serving is pretty big (I pack half to go) and is served with some sliced cucumbers, carrots, and half a boiled egg.

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Get it while you can because this is a summertime offering only!

thai: thai-style restaurant (泰風味小吃店/tàifēngwèi xiǎochīdiàn)

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date march 22, 2012

contact No. 2, Lane 108, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區羅斯福路四段108巷2號/02.2364.5750

hours 7 days a week 11:30-21:00

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Gongguan Station Exit 1 (捷運公館站1號出口)

All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S.

Anyone that has walked around the Gongguan/NTU area will probably notice the disproportionate amount of Thai restaurants in the area. It seems like there are at least 2 Thai restaurants to every 1 of any other style cuisine. Even with so many Thai places, I’ve actually tried very few having found favorites that I continually go back to. However, in an attempt to try new things to blog about I wandered into 泰風味小吃店 (roughly translated as Thai-Style Restaurant).

Finding 泰風味小吃店 isn’t too bad. It’s in the alley on the next to the Shuiyuan Market building (水源市場) outside of exit 1 of MRT Gongguan station. It’s in the alley to the left of building if you’re heading south on Roosevelt Rd. (羅斯福路). You can see a large purple sign that says Thai Food on it (it is next door to a branch of the dumpling chain 鮮天下, which has a green sign). The large purple sign looks quite generic, which at first was off putting; however, after seeing an ample amount of patrons go in and/or get something to-go I figured why not.

inside of 泰風味小吃店.

The restaurant itself is nothing special to look at. It’s pretty much the definition of “hole-in-the-wall”: it’s very narrow, with small tables lined up against the left and right side and not particularly the cleanest or prettiest to look at. I happen to be a believer that these types of mom and pop shops often have the best food, and I found that in the case of 泰風味小吃店 I was right.

menu at 泰風味小吃店.

The menu is a standard Taiwan-style mark the menu deal in Chinese only.

picture menu at 泰風味小吃店.

There are pictures of some of the dishes on the wall, but not all. I saw quite a few foreigners come in and it looked as though they have an English menu; however, it didn’t look like it had all the menu items on it.

set menu options at 泰風味小吃店.

In addition, they have several set menu options (also in Chinese).

Anyways, I’ve now been to 泰風味 on several different occasions; therefore, I’ve managed to try a few different things on the menu, which include:
– Cold Eggplant (涼拌茄子) 30NT
– Thai-Style Pepper Chicken with Rice Noodles (椒麻雞米線) 130NT
– Green Curry Chicken with Thai Rice Vermicelli (綠咖哩雞湯巴巴絲麵) 100NT
– Tom Kha Kai (椰子南薑雞湯) 100NT

cold eggplant (涼拌茄子) 30nt

The cold eggplant was pretty delicious. I happen to love eggplant, which I’ve probably mentioned a thousand times, and this little side dish did not disappoint. There was definitely a spicy kick, but there was great flavor in the sauce: a little sweet, a little sour, a little spicy. Be warned, for me “a little” spicy might be very spicy for those particularly sensitive to heat.

thai-style pepper chicken with rice noodles (椒麻雞米線) 130nt

My latest trip to 泰風味小吃店 had me ordering the thai-style pepper chicken with rice noodles. I love pepper chicken (aka jiaoma ji) and get it often. I generally prefer noodles to rice; however, jiaoma ji generally comes with rice. I was happy to see it come with rice noodles, which is why I had to try it. The jiaoma ji here was really good. It was pretty spicy, a good spice to me, but, again, likely very spicy for someone sensitive to heat. The sauce was delicious: good balance of sweet, sour, salt and spice. The chicken also didn’t taste particularly greasy for being fried. The overall combination of the chicken and sauce with the noodles was great. There weren’t a whole lot of noodles, so for a super hungry person, or someone that likes a lot of carbs with their meal, this might not be filling enough; however, for me, it was the perfect size. I will definitely be getting this again.

green curry chicken soup with thai rice vermicelli (綠咖哩雞湯巴巴絲麵) 100nt

On a previous visit I tried the green curry chicken soup with Thai rice vermicelli. There is another place in Gongguan that I always get this dish from. It’s my “go to” place for green curry chicken soup. However, upon seeing it on the menu here, I figured I should try it for comparison (plus, it’s 50NT cheaper than the other place). Boy was I glad I tried it. I thought the green curry soup here was delicious, maybe even better than my other place. The soup here is basically just a slightly less thick green curry sauce. It was pretty spicy, definitely not for someone with a sensitive palette. The chicken was super tender and the soup had great flavor. Vegetable-wise there was corn, green peas, eggplant, and bean sprouts in the soup. They have five different choices for the type of noodles you can put in your soup. I asked a server for which one they though was best with the green curry soup. He recommended the 巴巴絲 (bābāsī/Thai-style rice vermicelli). The texture was basically identical to other types of rice vermicelli and a perfect match for the soup. This is another thing I will definitely be getting again.

The first time I came to 泰風味小吃店 was because I was craving tom kha kai and hadn’t found a good one that I liked in Gongguan yet. I saw it on the menu and decided to give it a shot. I thought it was pretty delicious, perfect for a cold night. You can get it with noodles, but I just got the soup (note that without the noodles it’s still the same price). The balance of the lemongrass to galangal to coconut milk to kaffir lime leaf was great. The soup felt really warm in my stomach and was just really comforting. The chicken was tender, too. There have been times that I’ve had tom kha kai and thought it was too heavy, too thick to drink a whole bowl of, but this one was not. It wasn’t watery, but it was not so heavy that you felt like you were drinking straight coconut milk either. Very good.

Overall, there was something about this place that tasted a little more local Thai to me (and yes, I’ve been to Thailand). Maybe it’s because it’s spicier than most other Thai places I’ve been to in Gongguan or there is just a certain flavor I get more of here…I’m not quite sure. With the plethora of Thai joints in Gongguan I’m sure that everyone has their favorites, but 泰風味小吃店 has definitely won me over and earned itself the title of one of my favorites.

updated/sushi: n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi/德相N.C.I.S美式加州壽司)

n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi)

date March 09, 2013

contact No. 4, Alley 27, Lane 216, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷27弄4號/02.2721.6952

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 :: [dinner] 17:00-21:30

price 500NT-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 3 (捷運忠孝敦化站3號出口)

website http://www.ncisushi.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/ncisushi

You know how they say food is the way to a man’s heart? Well, sushi is the way to mine.

For a ladies night out, a college friend (a Santa Barbara native) requested some California-style sushi. Since she was getting her hair done across the street, literally, we decided to meet at 德相N.C.I.S.美式加州壽司. This was my first trip to their new location off Zhongxiao E. Rd.; I had previously been to their Shida Night Market location.

inside ncis.

On a Saturday night around 8pm the restaurant was pretty full. We managed to grab the last open table. The new location of NCIS is noticeably  roomier than their previous location at Shida.

menu at ncis as of march 2013.

We were quickly sat and handed menus. I noticed that the prices for some of the rolls have gone up, but nothing too drastic. Menu is still in English and Chinese. Speciality rolls range from 200-300NT.

Itadakimasu:
– Seasoned Soy Beans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT
– BBQ Eel Nigiri Sushi (aka Unagi/鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs.
– Halibut Fin Nigiri Sushi (比目魚緣側) 160NT/2pcs.
– Toyota Roll (豐田) 200NT
– Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) 280NT
– Spicy Ji Jimmy Roll (辣吉吉米) 300NT
– Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) 300NT
– Geikeikan Sake (月桂冠) 250NT/250ml

complementary soup.

Complimentary soup was the first thing out. Tasted like some sort of light miso broth with salmon.

First things out were the Toyota Roll (豐田) for 200NT, Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) for 280NT and Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) for 300NT.

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The Toyota specialty roll was described as fried shrimp and cream cheese on the inside, topped with smoked salmon and avocado. I liked this roll. Cream cheese and smoked salmon are a natural combination (a la cream cheese and lox and the standard Philadelphia roll). With the added sauce, fish eggs, and green onion this roll was delicious. We particularly appreciated was that they aren’t too heavy handed with the cream cheese. As much as I love cream cheese, too much in sushi drowns out all other flavors.

johnny can’t walk (約翰走不動) 300NT.

The only thing we ordered that I had previously ordered on my last visit to NCIS was the Johnny Can’t Walk specialty roll. Described as a roll of spicy tuna, crab mix, and shrimp topped with seared tuna and bbq eel (unagi), this was easily one of the favorites of the night. I had suggested it since it was our favorite roll from my last visit. My friends liked the slightly charred tasted from the searing and in general just liked the combination of flavors. I think I liked the roll better this time than I did the last. Last time there was a lot of random sauce on the plate. While for presentation sauces can be pretty, I’m kind of the opinion that what is put on a plate should compliment the dish and be edible. It’s like that idea of random ass sprigs of parsley on a plate: don’t put it on my plate if I’m not supposed to eat it. Especially with sauce, since if it gets on the food you can’t really just wipe it off. Okay, end tangent.

sofa-king-BOMB! (沙發王-棒!) 280NT.

Before being moved to the bar, Val and I spotted some roll with salsa on it. We immediately asked a server what it was because we wanted it! The Sofa-King-BOMB! specialty roll is a fried roll with chicken strips, cream cheese, and smoke salmon topped with salsa. At first the idea of chicken strips in my sushi was unappealing, but I actually liked this roll. Something about the combination of the fresh salsa with the saltiness of the chicken strips and salmon and the creamy cheese was tasty. This roll wasn’t as popular with my friends, but I liked it.

spicy ji jimmy (辣吉吉米) 300NT.

Still hungry we asked for a recommendation. Sitting at the bar we got to watch everything come out, including the Spicy Ji Jimmy specialty roll, which ended up being recommended to us. A roll with fried shrimp and spicy tuna topped with bbq eel (unagi) and avocado, this roll was probably the favorite of the night. With some spicy mayonaise sauce, and sriracha on the sides, this roll was only mildly spicy, but delicious. So delicious, in fact, that Xiao Yan got one to go.

[top] bbq eel (unagi) nigiri sushi (鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs. :: [bottom] halibut fin nigiri sushi (比目魚緣側) 160/2pcs.

On the nigiri sushi side we got two orders of BBQ eel (unagi) nigiri sushi and one order of halibut fin nigiri sushi. The unagi was pretty standard, nothing special. Xiao Yan ordered the halibut fin. Neither Val nor I had ever had it before, but I must say, it was quite delicious. Halibut fin (engawa) is apparently the “thin muscle of the dorsal fin”. The halibut fin had a bit of a chewy fatty texture, and the slight searing helped to bring out the flavor in the fat. Very delicious. Also, the sushi chef was kind enough to give us an extra piece since there were three of us.

seasoned soybeans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT.

Val wanted something to break up all the sushi, so we got an order of the seasoned soybeans. The seasoning on the soybeans kind of tasted like some sort of italian herb seasoning with chili flakes. Kind of interesting on the soybeans, but not bad at all.

We also ordered some sake. Pretty standard tasting sake; served cold.

Our only complaint would be regarding the servers. The female servers seemed a little clueless as to what was going on and not particularly warm or friendly either. When we asked one about what roll a table had ordered, after looking at it she still had to go ask one of the chefs what it was. Maybe we’re harsh since we’ve both worked in food service, and maybe I’m a little extra critical because I served in sushi restaurants for 7 years, but if you can’t tell what a roll is by the look of it, I think it’s time to do a little homework.

Overall, I much enjoyed NCIS. It was a nice taste of home for two California girls and fun to introduce our Taiwanese friend to California-style sushi. Rolls were great and decently priced. Our bill came out to about 1700NT or so, so between the 3 of us, about 600NT (~US$20) each. Sitting at the bar we got to talk a little to the owner, who introduced himself as Jo, from Sacramento. Even while busy he still managed to make conversation and seems to genuinely like what he does. We also overheard him say that if we had requests for other types of sushi not on their menu we could ask them to make it, which we will definitely do on our next visit.

vietnamese: cyclo noodle & rice (洛城牛肉粉)

date august 13, 2012

contact No. 377, Sec. 4, Renai Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區仁愛路四段377號/02.2752.8666

hours Monday-Saturday [lunch] 12:00-14:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-21:00 :: Closed Sundays

price <300NT (Cash only)

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (捷運國父紀念堂站) or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站)

website http://www.cyclopho.com/

A visiting friend from Sydney, Australia picked Cyclo for dinner based on a recommendation from his friend. I’d actually heard about Cyclo and it’s “LA style” pho from someone else, so being a Southern California girl I was excited to try.

Located on Renai Rd. (仁愛路) you can either take the MRT to Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化) and head south on Dunhua S. Rd. (敦化南路) then left on Renai Rd. or take the MRT to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念堂) and head south on Yanji St. (延吉街). If you’d rather take a bus, get off at Anhe Renai intersection (安和仁愛) and head east on Renai Rd. then left on Yanji. Although the address of Cyclo is on Renai Rd., the restaurant itself is located behind Renai Rd. off Yanji St.

On a Monday night around 7pm the restaurant was pretty crowded. I don’t think they take reservations so it’s just a waiting game.

The inside of Cyclo is pretty small and narrow. Tables run along the entire left side of the restaurant; there is also a long table on the right side near the door. At the very back of the restaurant is the kitchen, which is open so you can see what goes on behind the scenes. Everything inside Cyclo looks pretty new and clean.

The majority of the menu at Cyclo is in English and Chinese. The “For people who don’t eat noodles” and side dishes are only in Chinese, but it sounded like most of the servers speak some English. Note that each person gets their own menu to mark. Their signature dish is Vietnamese pho; however, they do offer three rice dishes, two other noodle dishes, and some side dishes.

We got:
– Beef noodle soup with three types of meat (清燉牛骨湯) 190NT
– Fried Spring Roll (炸春卷) 45NT
– LA style Spring Roll with fried shrimp (洛城生春卷) 65NT

Every table at Cyclo come equipped with a bottle of Sriracha sauce and a bottle of hoisin sauce, as well as a canister of pepper. I was happy to see the Sriracha because I’m pretty obsessed with it.

Since we ordered pho the server came out with two plates of raw bean sprouts, lemon wedges, chili peppers, and basil.

I decided to order the beef noodle soup (清燉牛肉湯) (aka pho) with light broth (淡), rare beef (生肉片), brisket (胸肉), and brisket point (黃金胸肉) for 190NT. Note that if you want to choose 4 types of beef you can for 230NT. You also have a choice between light broth and rich broth (濃); the light is the orignal. In addition you can choose between three types of noodles: rice starch noodles (細河粉), rice flour lath (板條), and thin noodles (細麵). I chose the rice starch noodles. Overall, I think this might be the best bowl of pho I’ve had in Taipei. It really did taste like pho I’d get at home in Southern California, which according to my Vietnamese friends is pretty good. The broth had a good beefy flavor and wasn’t too salty. All the meat was good, too. The noodles were also pretty good. Basically, as a whole, this was a bowl of deliciousness.

Will decided to order a few side dishes, so we ended up with the fried spring roll (炸春卷) for 45NT. One order comes with one fried spring roll cut in half. Stuffed with a pork and noodle mix, Will said it was pretty good.

Will also decided to order the LA style spring roll with fried shrimp (洛式生春卷) for 65NT. We noticed that you can choose what meat goes into the spring roll: fried shrimp (炸蝦) or American lunch meat (美式午餐肉). These spring rolls were pretty tasty. Like the fried spring roll, one order comes with one roll cut in half. While the serving size is small for the price, it’s still pretty tasty. I saw on Hungry Girl’s blog that the “American lunch meat” option is actually spam…not sure how I feel about that.

Overall, Cyclo was pretty delicious. The pho here was tasty and the side dishes were great, too. One thing we noticed was that they seemed to be out of a lot of things. Will had originally ordered the rice flour lath noodles, but they were out. He also tried ordering a variety of drinks that were all out as well. I guess the lesson learned is this: Cyclo is popular so come early to avoid lines and having everything already be sold out.

indian: saffron (香紅花印度美饌)

date july 16, 2012

contact No. 38-6, Tianmu E. Rd., Shilin District, Taipei City/台北市士林區天母東路38之6號/02.2871.4842

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 (closed Monday lunch) :: [dinner] 17:30-22:00

price 1000NT+

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Shipai MRT (捷運石牌站)

All pictures were taken with my iPhone 4S.

Having worked in a boba tea house turned Indian cafe (weird, I know.) in college, I have a soft spot for good Indian food. I have literally been wanting to go to Saffron for years. Finally, after much anticipation a friend and I made it out to Tianmu to try.

Tianmu is not exactly the most convenient place to get to. From Gongguan (公館) we were able to take the 606 directly to San Yu Temple (三玉宮), a 45 minute bus ride, which is only a few minute walk to Saffron. Via MRT, get off at Shipai ( 石牌) on the red line (Tamsui Line) and take any bus that goes to San Yu Temple (606, 645, and 646 all go).

Saffron is hidden behind Tianmu E. Rd. (天母東路) on the side of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越). If you’re coming from San Yu Temple bus stop, head east on Tianmu E. Rd. and make a right down Lane 22, Tianmu E. Rd. From there make your first left and you’ll see Saffron on your lefthand side.

I had originally tried to make reservations for a Saturday night, but having not called far enough in advanced, there were no open seats. Monday was the first available seating before 8pm, so I made reservations for two at 6pm. Basically, make reservations, it’ll make life a lot easier.

We were greeted at the door by a server and shown to our table. Saffron is only one floor with maybe about 12-15 tables. The decor is very nice, something I imagine fitting in very well in San Francisco, but not as pretentious.

We were seated at the table along the front window of the restaurant, right next to glass room where the tandoor is. It’s pretty cool that the area is glass so that you can see in and watch the tandoor chef in action as he makes salads and mans the tandoor, making fresh naan, papadum, tandoori chicken, etc. all night.

We were handed both a beverage and food menu, both of which are in English and Chinese. After much deliberation we decided to order:

– Methi Pakora (什蔬金錢餅) 190NT
– Murgh Tikka Masala (碳烤雞肉咖喱) 410NT
– Sag Paneer (菠菜泥燴乳酪) 320NT
– Plain Naan (烤餅) 80NT
– Butter Naan (奶油烤餅) 90NT
– Kulfi (印度傳統冰淇淋) 180NT
– Lassi (傳統自製優酪乳) 140NT

The server brought us a trio of two types of raita (coconut and mint) and pickled onions, along with some papadum. I thought both the coconut raita and mint raita were pretty tasty: light and not too thick. The papadum was freshly made by the tandoor chef right behind us and was crisp and warm.

We decided to order a plain Lassi (傳統自製優酪乳) 140NT. The consistency was perfect, not too thick or thin. Also, it had just the right amount of tartness.

For an appetizer we ordered the Methi Pakora (什蔬金錢餅) 190NT. Described as a “mix of chopped fenugreek, onion, potato and green chili deep friend in ground chickpea batter”, one order comes with four 2″ disks. We were told that the raita we were given earlier could be used to accompany our methi pakora. I thought these were pretty tasty: lightly fried, crisp around the edges, but still tender in the middle. I got a pretty strong cumin taste, but nothing that was over powering. Eat them while they’re fresh or they’ll start to get hard.

For a meat dish we decided to go with the Murgh Tikka Masala (碳烤雞肉咖喱) 410NT (aka Chicken Tikka Masala). Described as “boneless chicken breast cooked in clay oven then finished in thick gravy flavoured with cumin seeds”, this chicken tikka masala was a little thicker and chunkier than what I’m used to. Regardless, this chicken tikka masala was delicious! The chicken was super tender and the flavors from the sauce were rich and tasty. You can change the spiciness of this dish to fit your palette. Erin and I decided to go with medium spice and thought it was just right, enough spice to taste it, but not spicy enough to kill your taste buds or numb your lips. I would absolutely get this again.

For our vegetable dish we went with one of my favorites, Sag Paneer (菠菜泥燴乳酪) 320NT. Described as “finger cut cottage cheese cooked with spinach puree”, this sag paneer was creamier than I’m used to; however, like the tikka masala, it was delicious. Creamy, but not too rich, this was exactly what I’ve been craving for the last year (yes, I said year.).

To go with our main dishes we got two orders of naan: one Butter Naan (奶油烤餅) 90NT and one Plain Naan (烤餅) 80NT. Note that each order comes with a single piece of naan. The naan at Saffron is delicious, fresh, and soft.

For dessert we were between the apple halwa (finely grated apple slowly reduced in thickened milk flavoured with traditional dessert spices, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and kulfi (traditional Indian ice cream flavoured with pistachio and saffron). Ultimately we went with our server’s recommendation and ordered the Kulfi (印度傳統冰淇淋) 180NT. The kulfi came out bright yellow served in a martini glass. At first taste I was a little unsure of what I thought because it was almost savory and the texture was unlike any ice cream I had ever had. But my hesitation was brief and I quickly was obsessed with it. The “ice cream” is denser than Western style ice cream, fattier. It reminded me of what whipped cream would taste like if denser and frozen. The saffron taste is strong, but the pistachio taste comes through (there are also bits of pistachio in the kulfi). I would definitely recommend trying this if you’re up for something a little different.

Overall, I loved Saffron. The food is great, prices are reasonable, and the service is pretty good. Our total bill came out to just over 1,550NT (10% service charge included). We thought we ordered a good amount (maybe a little much) for the two of us. The serving sizes don’t look that big, but they are bigger than they look: the dishes are deeper than they seem. In the end, even though Tianmu is a little out there, I definitely think it’s worth the trip if you’re craving some good Indian food.