Tuesday, September 19, 2006
6, Alley 5, Lane 70, Yanji St
Lunch 11am to 2pm
Dinners 5pm to 10:30pm
kid friendliness: high chair available, no kids setting offered
revisted review: 9/19/2006
Today I headed to AALEJA again, getting a seat right before the busy lunch hour. Good thing too, especially as the restaurant started to fill its tables, it was hard to get service, and it was hard to wave someone down for more water, a forgotten bowl of basmati rice and the bill. Though the two waiters were friendly, it was too understaffed for the six to eight tables that were there when we left. STRIKE ONE: not enough servers during lunch hour
The Tandoori Chicken (half order) was disappointing as the pieces seemed bony rather than meaty. I felt a little this way last time, though I thought it was because I got the leftover pieces from a group of eaters. However, with a half order, we got a bony thigh, a medium meaty breast, and a tiny leg upon the hot plate of onions and tomato. The flavor was still tangy and tender, but just expected more bites out of the order, especially in comparison to experiences at other Indian restaurants. STRIKE TWO: more bones than meat from the Tandoori Chicken
STRIKE THREE: Another disappointment this day- the Naan! It was dense and heavy, like pita bread rather than fluffy crispy naan I've come to love. Did I order wrong, I thought to myself? I asked for original flavor in chinese, but this was not like the Naan I had before. I even compared it to the picture from the last visit. As the servers were busy attending to other customers and we were ready to leave, I didn't bring it up to the waiters.
The Mutton Korma and potato side we ordered were still very good. The rice was a good accompaniment, though more like sticky rice than basmati rice, maybe to accomodate to the Taiwanese tastes. As I heard other customers order the lunch special set (which I didn't know about since I didn't see it on the menu and the server didn't mention it), I was a little curious- but it definitely on the light side with one meat dish and rice, naan, soup, fruit, drink (though I heard there are different levels of lunch sets). Our lunch for two ran about NT$1210 (with service fee), as my friend also ordered soup and a strawberry lassi. I will have to try the other Indian restaurants before returning to AALEJA to compare, but for now I'm revising my "strongly recommend" to a neutral recommend because of their three strikes today.
original review posted: 6/20/2006
visit reviewed: 4/23/2006
I really enjoy Indian food, and I think that I've had some of the best Indian food in Asia- Singapore, Hong Kong and now Taipei. There are actually quite a few Indian restaurants in Taipei to choose from, but sometimes that becomes more confusing- which one is "authentic" and which ones cater too much to the Taiwanese tastebuds?
On this occassion, I was actually searching most of the day to choose one Indian restaurant for a group family excursion and set with the near impossible task of finding one that might have a private room- as they do in many Chinese restaurants. Calls placed to Tandoor, Ali Baba and New Delhi asking if they had a private room resulted in varied interesting responses (one "no" and then hang up, one confused no and one polite no.) After scouring various internet boards, quite a few TaiwanHo! forum posters recommend Aaleja. To my surprise, they actually had a private room available (and were friendlier than some of the other restaurants on the phone I had called)!
After a few twists and turns, you will find the entrance, which at night is light by a neon sign and a large lit entrance collage of food photos.
The dinner was great. We got an assortment of curries: the mutton karahi (NT$410), chicken vindaloo (NT$300), beef korma (NT$310), the eggplant masala (NT$190), as well as the chicken tandoori (full chicken NT$550), samosas (3 for NT$160) and naan (NT$50)/ garlic naan (NT$70). We also got a rice dish (which I can't remember the name) and to my surprise it was curried instead of plain basmati rice.
Each of the curries were had distinct and complimenting flavors to another, and the meats were stewed to tenderness .
Our full order of chicken tandoori was split into two hot plates. The chicken was tender and flavorful.
The naan was soft and crispy.
The samosas was the only disappointment because the skins were slightly soggy and not crispy.
Our table of seven people finished everything!
The private room had very cool mural along one side of the wall and a tv in the other corner that played Bollywood films, perhaps to help transport you to India. The restaurant area was crowded and boisterous. The service was friendly and accomodating. The food took a little while to be served, but once the food came, it all came fairly quickly. I'd like to return to try their weekend brunch buffet, mmmmm.