Category Archives: shipai (石牌)

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.

Advertisements

korean: seoul in taipei (漢城炭烤)

date june 23, 2011

contact No. 5, Lane 130, Tianmu W. Rd., Beitou District, Taipei City/台北市北投區天母西路130巷5號/02.2821.2454

hours 7 days a week 11:30~14:00; 17:30~21:30

price 200-600NT per person (+10% service charge)

rating ♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Shipai MRT (捷運石牌站)

I have a love of Korean food. So much so that I’ve managed justifying going to Korea three times and even thought of moving there, yet somehow I’ve never been to Korea Town in Los Angeles…

A friend of mine, who is Korean, is on a quest to find the most authentic Korean food he can in Taipei before leaving in July. Based off a blog post he found online, we found ourselves at Seoul in Taipei.

Seoul in Taipei is about a 5-10 minute bus ride from the Shipai MRT station (exit 1). The restaurant itself is two floors, although the top floor was not open when we went. On a Thursday night at about 7:30pm the place was empty, which was a little discomforting, but shortly after being sat, the bottom floor filled up.

 The menu is in Chinese only and had pictures of every item. The menu isn’t super extensive, but it has your basic Korean dishes: sundubu, bi bim bap, rice cakes, bulgolgi, galbi, etc. We decided to share four dishes between four people so that we could try various items. I was surprised that they didn’t have any Korean beers, only Taiwan beer…Although, they did have soju.

First thing that came out was the banchan. At first we were a little worried that we were going to have to order banchan because we saw it on the menu, but it is free, as are refills. We were given five types: kimchi, seaweed, potato, fish cake, and whatever green vegetable that is. Everyone liked the kimchi, it was pretty standard, definitely could have been spicier in my opinion. Really, all of the banchan was good. I mean, none of them were amazing, but none of them were bad either.

We ordered the bulgolgi, which came with a small bowl of soup. The bulgolgi was okay. Our table seemed to like it, but I wasn’t particularly impressed. I felt like the beef was a little tough and over cooked. The flavor was pretty good, but the meat itself was a little disappointing.

My choice was the cold noodles (伴冷麵) for 200NT. The noodles were topped with apples, pickled cucumbers, kimchi, pork, half a hard boiled egg, and some sweet red sauce. I thought this wasn’t bad. I kind of liked the mix of flavors and the crunchy texture of the apples and cucumbers with the noodles. The sauce was a very very mildly spicy sweet sauce that worked with all the ingredients. This dish was very similar to something I ate on my last trip to Korea, which was the specialty dish of some specific region. I felt like the rest of my table wasn’t a huge fan of this, but I liked it.

So one of the reasons we ended up here was because a member of our party specifically wanted cold noodles with soup (湯冷麵). However, this was not what he was expecting. This dish, for 200NT, was basically EXACTLY the same as the cold noodles, but with a cold kimchi soup poured over it. It had apples, cucumbers, pork, kimchi, and half a hard boiled egg, just like the previous dish. Only difference, the sauce was in soup form. The dish he was looking for had a clear soup, not this red soup. This dish wasn’t bad, it just was not what anyone was expecting, although, we should have known better based off the picture on the menu.

We also ordered seafood sundubu (海鮮豆腐湯) for 250NT, which includes a bowl of rice. This dish was pretty popular amongst the table. It wasn’t that spicy, so for people who fear spicy Korean food don’t worry because this isn’t Korean spicy. The soup was pretty good and it had good flavor. Honestly, I felt like it was a pretty standard sundubu though; it wasn’t particularly memorable in anyway.

Overall I thought this place was okay. I don’t know. I kind of feel like I was a way harsher critic than the rest of my party, including my Korean friend. The service was good; even though the closed at 9:30pm, the waitress was really nice and told us to take our time. This place is not bad, it’s just not memorable. I would probably never feel the need to come back, but at the same time if someone was like, “let’s go to Seoul in Taipei”, I wouldn’t say no. However, with a name like Seoul in Taipei, this was not Seoul in Taipei.