Indian Vegetarian Restaurants in Taipei

After waiting a decade for an Indian vegetarian restaurant to arrive in Taipei, I'm pleased to be able to review Taipei's half-dozen or so Indian vegetarian restaurants, however I only really recommend one of them: Flavour of India. My page on Vegetarian Indian restaurant in Tokyo is one of my Japan Vegan blog's most popular, so it's great to be finally able to write one for Taipei.

Flavour of India (品·印度, Taipei's Best Veg Indian)


Technology Building Station, Exit 5
Turn left as you walk out Exit 5, and continue walking under the MRT (train tracks), following them around to the left. Then cross the road (Heping East Road, Section 2) and Flavour of India will be on your right after 300 metres.

Number 34, Section 3, Heping East Road, Da’an District 台北市大安區和平東路三段34號
Directions
Tue - Sun: 11:30-15:00, 17:30-22:00, closed Monday
02 2739 2799 (English-speaking staff available)

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Flavour of India actually do vegan naan, but, to be vegan, they are more like roti than traditional naan.

Flavour of India is far and away Taipei's best Indian restaurant, both in terms of the quality of its food and how careful the staff are to ensure that the food is vegan. I have eaten there around a dozen times, and have never (as far as I know) received food which contained dairy products.


The Real Deal for Vegan, Jain and Vegetarian Food

The restaurant is owned by a Jain, the world's oldest religion of non-violence, from which the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) comes. Jains (and thus the restaurant) do, unfortunately, use dairy products, but do not eat onion, garlic, or other root vegetables, since digging them up harms the plant and insect life in the soil (but these are served to non-Jains in the restaurant, as is standard practice for Jain restaurants). Of course nowadays there is far more himsa (harm) caused by farming cows than farming potatoes, but unfortunately the tradition lives on in the religion, however fortunately more and more younger Jains are turning vegan as they learn how different modern milk production methods are to those of Mahavira, the most recent Jain leader. Given its ownership and philosophy, it's not surprising that Flavour of India is the most vegan-friendly of all Indian restaurants in Taipei.


Food Quality

Flavour of India also serves the best food quality. I find in Taipei (and probably everywhere) restaurants (of all genres) which start out as vegan (or vegetetarian) serve better quality food than those which are just vegetarian branches of non-vegetarian chains (as both Mayur Indian Kitchen and 3 idiots are).

Unfortunately, for now, Flavour of India only serves the typical North Indian cuisine of curries and rotis, and not South Indian cuisine, which in my opinion is more delicious and usually more vegan-friendly, such as dosas. But for the best Indian meal in Taipei, this is the place to go.

An Empire to Come?

I really hope that Flavour of India will build a vegetarian empire as the other chains have non-veg ones, and they have already opened a second branch in Tainan, a city with a couple of good Loving Huts but few different options for vegan food. 
 

Vegan Taipei (100% Vegan, Limited Indian Range)

Daan Station, Exit 5
Turn left as you exit, and cross a small alley. Continue walking south, and cross the road when you get a chance and continue walking south. Turn right into Rui'an Street after walking south for 350 metres. Follow Rui'an street around to the left, and Vegan Taipei is well signposted in English, on your right after 150 metres. 
台北市大安區瑞安街130號
No. 130, Rui'an Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106

Directions
Mon-Sat:11:30-20:30, Sun: 12:00-20:00
(02) 2703-0725 (English-speaking staff available)
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It's not the most exciting Indian food in town, but you know it's vegan, and there are other cuisines on the menu, including some of Taipei's best desserts.


Vegan Taipei has an interesting history. It started out as Fresh Bakery, Taiwan's first all-vegan bakery, which soon became famous for its fresh baking and especially its decadent cakes, which just seemed too good to be true. It's since morphed into a Taiwanese vegan restaurant, which still produces and serves some decent Taiwanese and fusion cuisine, along with some of its best baking from its time as a bakery.
Vegan Taipei is owned and run by Ravi, a long-time Indian resident of Taiwan. He offers some simple vegetable curries; however, since he doesn't use onion and garlic, and his clientele are mostly Taiwanese, food is quite different to that which he and most readers of this blog have in mind when we say Indian food. 

The upside is that all the food is vegan, so this is the safest place to try vegan food in Taiwan. If you are looking for a good curry, perhaps with company who doesn't want Indian food so much, this is a great option. And you can all enjoy the (very delicious, but not so Indian) baked goods for dessert.



Mayur Indian Kitchen (Vegetarian, Passable)

Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, Exit 1
Continue walking west after taxing Exit 1, and then after 200 metres turn right under the large, Xinsheng Elevated Road. After walking north under this elevated road for 300 metres, you'll cross under an even larger elevated expressway. Continue walking north, and then take the first right, and MIK will be on your right, clearly labelled as an Indian vegetarian restaurant.  
台北市中山區新生北路一段38號
Zhongshan District, Xinsheng North Road, Section 1, Number 38 台北市大安區和平東路三段34號
Directions
11:30-15:00, 17:00-21:30
02 2543 1817 (English-speaking staff available)
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This dosa contained butter, and even its replacement was one of the most incipid dosa's I've ever eaten. Oh how I miss Veggie Herb Saga, from Tokyo.

 One of Taipei's largest chains of (non-vegetarian) Indian restaurants, Mayur has recently turned one of its branches vegetarian. Especially since it serves my South Indian favourites such as Masala Dosas, I had high hopes of this place, but it was disappointing. While it's great that it's promoting vegetarian food to its mostly non-vegetarian clientelle, the staff just don't care about catering to vegans, and the food is just not a touch on Flavour of India. It is a passable second option for when absolutely necessary.

 Food Quality

When I first arrived in Taiwan a decade ago, it didn't matter how bad an Indian restaurant was, it would be popular, and could charge an absurd premium for its "exotic" food. This in quite a contrast to Japan, where there is a large enough population of resident Indians for Indian food to be simply an affordable meal out, and for the quality to be up to the standard expected of Indian businesspeople and tourists.

I actually went to this branch several years ago, before it became vegan, and remember being sorely disappointed. It may have improved a little with more competition over the years, but not much. And of course, their overall cuisine is still meat-focussed, and this branch just leaves off the usual chicken and fish offered at other branches, in stark contrast to Flavour of India, where the vegetarian owner has created a menu around his own, lifelong vegan foods.

Not for Vegans

 Despite "vegan" options being clearly labelled on the menu, I was served yoghurt with a starter. Then my masala dosa clearly smelled of dairy products, and when I asked the manager, she called the kitchen, who confirmed that the dish was vegan. I asked again (as it stank of dairy) and explained (truthfully) that I am highly lactose intolerant, and get sick if I eat the tinest bit of dairy products. The chef came out and said that it contained "only a little bit" of butter.
If you are a travelling vegetarian Indian reading this, you'll probably get a reasonable meal, but nothing to write home about. But if you're after vegan food, then you'd be best to head for Flavour of India.


Three Idiots Curry and Toast(Vegetarian, Avoid)

None of the Indian curries can be made vegan (if the waiter understood properly). This "curry" (chilli tofu" was much more Taiwanese than Indian. The "toast" (which is literally just toast) is vegan, but I doubt the potato chips are. This is highly overpriced at NT300, as this would get a 'real' Indian meal at Flavour of India.



Not Real Indian

These are actually just vegetarian branches of the Out of India chain, another of Taipei's earliest successful chains of bad Indian food.  But it's a kind of a fusion of American, Taiwanese and Indian food, in that order, with an emphasis on toast (literally plain bread, toasted with a rub of coconut oil).  Anyone wanting authentic Indian food will be sorely disappointed, unless they are vegan, in which case it might not be possible to order anything at all.


Not For Vegans Either

I was so excited when the first branch of this vegetarian restaurant opened, but was even more disappointed on my first visit to find that I couldn't order anything. Despite explaining what I could and couldn't eat, in both English and in Chinese (the waiter was Taiwanese) he recommended that I order a paneer (Indian cheese) curry.He just didn't care. They have since opened two stores, and I tried another recently. This time I was able to order, but staff still have no idea about veganism and are not really interested. When I asked about dairy in the bread, the waiter said that it might contain a little but it would be a "minor percentage" (so nothing to worry about of course) and that he couldn't read the ingredients because they were all in Chinese. I checked the ingredients and it didn't contain dairy, but I don't know about the potato chippies which come with every meal. It's possible to ask for no dairy or egg to be added to your menu, but staff have no idea about ingredients in food, and no understanding about veganism whatsoever, despite a request on the menu that vegans and Jains specifify their diet when ordering.  It would really be better to just go to a Western or Taiwanese restaurant.

Other Cities

Tainan

Fortunately, a new branch of Flavour of India has opened in Tainan

Kaohsiung

It's worth noting that the oldest vegetarian Indian restaurant in Taiwan is Dileep's Indian Vegetarian restaurant, which I intend to add to my book when I include Kaohsiung in a future update.


Non-Vegetarian Indian Restaurants in Taiwan?

In my first decade in Taiwan, desperate for Indian food, I tried most of the non-vegetarian Indian restaurants in Taipei, but little success. Most were not honest about what was vegan, and the food was generally terrible. For Indians visiting Taiwan, I highly recommend trying real vegan restaurants in Taipei, and not trying your luck at non-veg Indian restaurants.

The only exception is Balle Balle, where the manager (GG) really does go out of his way to serve decent vegan food. But now with Flavour Of India I no longer have any reason to go somewhere that my food is cooked up along dead animals.

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