Monday, October 13, 2014

indian: i strongly recommend BALLE BALLE INDIAN

No. 12 Guangfu N. Rd 光復北路12號
(02) 2570-7265

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall (10-15 minute walk away)

website: Balle Balle's FB page 

hours: 11:30AM - 2:30PM; 5:30PM - 10PM

$$ (average NT$400-700/person)

Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, but kid friendly breads, rice, chicken dishes

Visit reviewed: 8/21/2014 & 9/1/2014

I was having scones and tea a few weeks ago with a girlfriend who was visiting from NY, and she was telling me how useful my blog was, but also how it felt a little out of date. It's true I haven't been posting as often as I used to, and I have been selfish, keeping my favorite places to myself for as long as I can so that they don't get crowded and I can walk in last minute without a reservation. But sometimes, you can't keep a good thing all to yourself, so I wanted to write about Balle Balle Indian Restaurant.

My mouth started to water when I was uploading the pictures for this post... butter chicken, naan, spinach. So much so that I had to order some food from there to-go for dinner! I was quite happy to find a new Indian place to devour and Balle Balle continued the streak of good Indian food that seems to be hitting Taipei. The past few years has seen the opening of Balle Balle (2013), Khana Khazana (2012), Fusion Asia Indian Restaurant and Bar (2012), Mayur Indian Kitchen (2011) and Sree Indian Palace (2011).  Even though there have always been a handful of Indian restaurants in Taipei, or at the mall food courts, I'd sometimes find repeat visits a disappointment when the food wasn't consistently good as the first time (Invariably, they have to keep costs down, but it's still a bummer). I love Saffron (and its next door neighbor Spice Shop is great too), but the drive to Tianmu and its pricier menu makes it a destination, not a regular visit for me.

So when my friend raved about her new find, Balle Balle, we made our way there for lunch and grabbed the last table for two at lunch. It was fairly crowded both times we went, so I'd recommend making a reservation. I took this picture after the lunch crowd had cleared out.

Balle Balle's menu features Punjabi Indian fare and the second time I went, I went with a large group that could EAT, so I was able to try a lot of different dishes. Everything was delicious and the portions are good for the price. The manager speaks English and Chinese, and can recommend dishes if you aren't sure what to order. There's a great range of appetizers, tandoori, chicken, seafood, lamb, vegetarian and breads to choose from.

On my first visit, my friend who introduced me to the restaurant chose her favorite dishes from her previous visits- the murg malai kebab (NT$380), naan (NT$65), cucumber raita (NT$90) and the manager recommended the murg saag wala (NT$380) which had chicken chunks cooked in spinach puree, when we asked for a curry to add. The murg saag wala is a good dish to order if you are eating alone because you get the meat and the veggies without having to order two things- since Balle Balle doesn't have the lunch set menus here.

The murg malai kebab (NT$380) is marinated in Indian spices, cashew nut paste and homemade indian cream, so it's flavorful without being spicy and is really succulent. This is something I'd probably order for my dad to try, as he is someone who doesn't like curry or Indian food. Also a great alternative for those who love chicken tandoori, but want something boneless so you don't have to get your hands dirty.

The cucumber raita (NT$90) is refreshing and cooling, not too runny or sweet.

I liked Balle Balle so much that I chose for dinner when meeting up with some cousins. The guys said they were hungry and loved Indian food, so we ordered up a storm.

Refreshing mango lassi- not overly sweet and great yogurt/mango taste.

Samosas (NT$80 for 2 ) to start off the night. 

Fish tikka masala (NT$380) and Dilwala Tandoori murg chicken (NT$550 for full portion) very tender and aromatic. Super yum.

Chicken Murg Tikka Masala  (NT$340)- boneless chicken cooked in the clay oven, simmered with tomatoes, onions, coriander and Indian spices. 

The Murg Makhani Masala (NT$380) was one of the favorites of the night. Otherwise known as  Butter Chicken, the creamy butter cream and tomato curry is on the sweet side and everyone scooped the last of the curry with their naan even after there was no more chicken.

I liked the vegetarian dishes a lot- we didn't spot okra on the menu, but after asking, they said they had it.

Palak paneer- spinach

Scoop a little bit of everything to the plate to go with your rice and naan and pass the curry along. 

The manager chose an assortment of naans and parathas for us to try. I ended up really loving the golden brown amitsari aloo kulcha (NT$120), which tasted like a wheat-y flatbread stuffed with mashed potato. Google says that kulchas are leavened Punjabi breads made from wheat flour, and made with baking soda instead of yeast. Next time I'd try the kulcha or paratha stuffed with cauliflower or the poori, a puffed up deep fried bread, which I spotted when another table ordered it.

Balle Balle, the name of the restaurant, is said to be an "expression of joy" or used to describe a feeling of happiness especially in songs. Cue Pharrell, because I'm happy to have found my new favorite restaurant for Indian food in Taipei.


Anonymous said...

I think you meant to mention in the beginning was Fusion Asia Indian Restaurant and Bar (not Indian Fusion restaurant) They serve authentic Indian food. Quite good actually...

joanh said...

Hi! Yes thanks for catching that. I've corrected it. I've yet to go but have heard good things

Ken said...

I tried Balle Balle like a month ago and liked it but found my bill of more than NT500 (including a 10% service charge) for one dish, a garlic naan, and a drink to be too high for me to eat there more than once every few months - especially considering that local lunches are often less than NT100. Joanh, do you have any recommendations for any Indian places for around NT200 that I could eat more often (like the one in the 101 food court) - don't mind if the quality isn't quite as stellar as Balle Balle or Saffron. Thx.

joanh said...

Hi Ken! Try Khana Khazana-- they do a nice combo plate that I believe is under nt$200
Or Cafe India in Xinyi Mitsukoshi a4

Anonymous said...

you are selfish!

joanh said...

Haha! Check out my instagram for more real time eats!

Unknown said...

Their websites or menu Joanh if available

joanh said...

hi Akhil- the website is listed above with the address. and i've included a couple pages of their menu

Terry J. Benzie said...

Easily the best all-around Indian place in Taipei. Prices are a bit higher than others but you can order 2/3 the dishes you normally do and walk away full. Owner/manager is very friendly and they do a good job of trying to get you in even if they are busy, which they generally are during evenings and weekends.