I have unexpected, undeniable cravings for Indian food just like the next random person, but I made sure to ask the experts for this story.
Here are four Indians living in Taipei (well, one technically lives in Hsinchu) who know the city’s Indian restaurants very well. These are their favorites.
Sana Hashmi, 32
She’s a Visiting Fellow at National Chengchi University. Originally from Delhi, India, Sana moved to Taipei in February 2020. Follow her on Twitter: @sanahashmi1
I like Masala Art the most. Although most restaurants can adjust their flavours for Indian palettes, I find Masala Art to be the most authentic. I go to Mayur Indian Kitchen 8 primarily because the restaurant is attached to their grocery store.
What are your favorite, must-have dishes? The chicken biryani and mutton vindaloo at Masala Art. The mutton shahi korma at Ali Baba’s Indian Kitchen. Chicken tikka malasa and palak gosht (spinach meat) at Mayur Indian Kitchen.
What food do you miss the most? I miss chicken and mutton biryani and kebabs the most. You can order biryani in almost any Indian restaurant here but nothing comes close to homemade. It’s difficult to get authentic biryani. Sadly I’ve noticed some Indian restaurants in Taipei try to pass off masala rice as biryani.
Where do you go when you’re feeling homesick? I go to Masala Art when I get homesick because it offers the most authentic Mughlai food. Mughali food is an important part of Delhi cuisine, which is where I come from.
What do you wish people knew about Indian restaurants in Taipei? I strongly believe eating Indian food in Taipei is outrageously expensive. But Indian food in Taipei at least is somewhat authentic because they source spices from India and the chefs are also Indian.
And Indian cuisine is not just about butter chicken! Food in India is different in every state. Most restaurants in Taipei just have North Indian food to offer. I would like to see more authentic dishes from South India, and I am not just talking about dosa. Several restaurants have vindaloo, which is generally cooked in Goa, Vasai, the Konkan and Kerala. And also chettinad from Tamil Nadu. The problem is they don’t taste anything like authentic vindaloo and chettinad curries.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you living in Taipei? Given the population of India, the Indian community in Taipei is small but it’s close-knit. The majority of Indians have either been living here for decades or they’re researchers at Academia Sinica. There’s a strong sense of community. Long-term Indians go out of their way to make Indian students feel comfortable.
Where do you plan to eat next? A friend who visited Taiwan told me about an Indian restaurant called Dulan Indian Cuisine. He told me the chef is Taiwanese and she never went to India. She learned to cook Indian food from a cookbook her daughter bought during a visit to India. According to him, the food was authentic. I’m kind of fascinated by this story.
Vaishnav Subramanian, 25
Originally from Tamil Nadu in India, Vaishnav moved to Taipei in Sept 2018. He recently completed a Masters of Chemical Engineering at NTU. See more of his life in Taiwan: @vaishnavsubramanian
What are your top Indian restaurants in Taipei? I like Balle Balle, Oye Punjabi, Moksha, Out of India (Shida Branch) and Tibet Kitchen Taiwan. Both the quality and quantity of food is worth the money.
What are your favorite, must-have dishes? At Oye Punjabi, the tandoori and chicken tikka. At Tibet Kitchen, the butter and garlic naan and the aloo paratha (potato stuffed naan). At Balle Balle, the butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and the mutton rahra (if you like spinach it’s good). At Moksha, get the starters. Their complimentary pappad with the dipping sauce is awesome too. Out of India is good overall, but it’s a little bit more oily.
What food do you miss the most? Dosa, idly, pongal (a salty dish with some cumin seeds and peppercorns), vada (made of lentils and deep-fried), plus different types of chutneys. These are the major food items I miss the most.
Where do you go to eat when you’re feeling homesick? Tibet Kitchen or Kaveri Kitchen, which is close to NTU.
What do you wish other people knew about Indian restaurants in Taipei? All the restaurants are more focused toward North Indian cuisines like tandoori or tikka, but I wish more people knew about South Indian cuisine. Also, biryani is one of the most famous dishes in India that everyone likes, but they vary with every region in India.
Do you do much cooking at home? I have recently started cooking. Previously I was just eating at restaurants or the night market. You know, dorm life. Most Indians here bring all their spices from India when they come, but there are a few shops here in Taipei. Trinity Indian Store is famous. Mayur Indian Kitchen has a grocery and runs an online store. There’s also a place called Good Home Food in Tianmu. I think buying spices in Good Home Food can be cheaper.
Amandeep Kaur, 35
She’s from Patiala, India and moved to Taipei in August 2019. Amandeep is a freelance writer and content creator. Follow her on Instagram: @amandeepkaurpathania
What are your top Indian restaurants in Taipei? Oye Punjabi, Saffron in Tienmu, and MAS India Restaurant, which is in Hsinchu where I live. They all offer a huge variety of Indian meals, ranging from Indian flatbread, rice, curries, vegetables, snacks and drinks. Staff is very attentive and helpful. The ambience is cozy and you feel welcome.
What are their must-have, best dishes? The kadhai paneer and aaloo paratha at Oye Punjabi. The malai kofta and lachha paratha at Saffron. And the idli sambar and biryani at MAS Indian Restaurant.
What food do you miss the most? I miss simple Indian homemade food and Indian street food like chaat, kachori, tikki, golgappe, paav-bhaaji and kulche.
What has been the biggest surprise for you living in Taipei? Until I joined the online groups of Indians living in Taiwan, I wasn’t aware that so many Indian people have been living here for so long!
Where are you planning to eat next? I’d like to visit Amma’s Kitchen and Balle Balle.
Prathishta Pushparaj, 23
She’s originally from Kerala State, India and has been based in Taipei since 2017. She’s a student at Chinese Culture University working on her Bachelor of Global Business.
What are your top Indian restaurants in Taipei? Burans Indian Kitchen has affordable biryani. Masala Art has quick meals from their stall at Maji Square. Amma’s Indian Kitchen is the only Indian restaurant with South Indian food in Taipei that I’ve seen. It’s where I go when I’m feeling homesick.
What are their must-have dishes? The chicken biryani at Burans Kitchen. The shagwala chicken at Masala Art. The dosa with chettinad chicken curry at Amma’s.
What do you wish other people knew about Indian restaurants in Taipei? It’s not just North Indian food that’s Indian food! There are way more different options like the South Indian food at Amma’s Indian Kitchen.
What do you think about the price of Indian food in Taipei? The price is very high compared to India but it’s affordable if you work and earn a Taipei salary.
What has been the biggest surprise for you when it comes to the Indian population here? There are much fewer South Indian restaurants and a smaller South Indian population in general.
How would you describe student life in Taipei? It’s pretty hectic with communication barriers. And unlike Indonesian students, I don’t have many friends who are Indian in my classes.