Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bollywood Indian Pizza

Bollywood Indian Pizza
Shi-da Night Market
#16 Lane 28 Taishun Street, Taipei

Directions:Finding a new place - a place you are specifically looking for - can seem daunting in Shi-da Night Market. Bollywood Indian Pizza, however, is easy enough to find: at the end of Shida Park nearest Heping, across the street is a Watson's on a perpendicular road. If you follow the crowds walking up that road past the Watson's, you'll hit the Shida Night Market. Walk past the main road of the night market drag and keep going straight - Bollywood Indian Pizza is on the right. Often in the night market on the main drag a man holding a sign pointing to it can be seen in the intersection near the giant 7-11 sign.

Anyway, I give it a thumbs-up. It's not high-end Indian fare, and it won't knock your socks off for fine dining or even normal Indian dining, but the two pizzas we had (both named after Bollywood films - I only remember Devdas, the ground lamb one) were quite good and left a satisfying heat on the tongue. I have no idea why the "Indian pizzas" are named after Bollywood movies with seemingly no connection to the food you've just ordered, but I'll call that "flourish" and let it go.

So what is "Indian pizza"? Well, this place's interpretation of it seems to be a thin naan crust (almost like chapati but firmer, like you'd expect of toasted pita bread, but with a definitely non-pita consistency) with sauce that's a curry gravy rather than typical tomato sauce, and topped with both cheese and the various things one might find in any number of Indian curries (chicken, lamb, onions, peppers, tomatoes, peas, spinach, paneer). I was skeptical at first, but came to appreciate that they don't have one stock, boring "curry sauce" - the sauces are actual curry gravies. Devdas (minced lamb, onion, bell pepper, peas) had a butter-chicken or tikka masala like base, and the other one we had had more of a Mughal-inspired nutty, creamy base as you might find in some variations of shahi paneer or malai kofta. At the pizza station I saw containers full of sauces of other colors, too.

I was a bit worried about the inclusion of non-paneer cheese, but the smattering of standard pizza mozzarella was actually fine - it worked surprisingly well with the Indian flavor of the pizza.

As Brendan noted - "it looks different and it's a different eating experience, but really it basically tastes like eating a curry with naan." And it does - and a fairly satisfying, moderately spicy one, too. 

It's not cheap - most pizzas run NT$300 - but I do recommend it for something interesting to do on a weekend night that you wouldn't ordinarily get to try...and I swear the pizza was pretty good. I would go there again.

The place doesn't just serve "Indian pizza" - they also have a range of normal pizzas - margherita, pesto etc. - curries served the normal way, even fries and pasta. We wanted to try the Indian pizza, though, and didn't really lay eyes on the other stuff.

The decor is funky and conducive to a fun night out (so much of the best Taiwanese food is in restaurants that lack aesthetic luster, unless you count round particle-board tables and bathroom tile walls as "lustrous". Red and aqua walls, wood floors, interesting lamps, and an intimate but still vibrant atmosphere. We felt we could talk over the din - but there was a din. Decent beer/alcohol selection, somewhat lackluster non-alcoholic selection. Not much seating, though: we got one of the only tables left and it quickly filled up after us. Our table could only seat two, and there was absolutely no room for a third chair. When my sister called to see if we were eating and if she might join us, we looked around and saw no way to accommodate her at our table or any other (full) table.

On the good side, that kind of crowd means it may not suffer the fate of so many new bars and restaurants in Taiwan - it may not go under in three months or a year!

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