The struggle to find Indian food with oomph is real. You know, the kind that can transport you across the globe without you having to buy a plane ticket.
My desire for authentic India fare has grown intensively since traveling to India in 2012. I miss the rich aromas and bold flavors that tickle the palate and satiates the belly. Since returning, I have been searching high and low trying to fill the void.
So far, I have had mixed experiences. Food is often good, but never fantastic. Perhaps I have set my bar too high. Recently, I discovered Balle Balle Restaurant & Bar and it was surprisingly pleasant. The food and overall experience hit all the right spots.
Balle Balle Restaurant & Bar offers superb Punjabi and North Indian food that is likely to make you feel as if you have traveled to a North Indian village. The food is so excellently executed, and it has become my go-to restaurant when in need of a curry fix. Satisfaction is guaranteed every time.
Upon entering Balle Balle, polite waiters welcome diners to their tables already set up with tableware. As Punjab is also the birthplace of Sikhism, you will notice religious figurines and cultural ornaments decorating the space.
One of the most impressive things about Punjabi food is its variety. Balle Balle’s menu features plenty of options for omnivores and herbivores. While omnivores can order their Butter Chicken, the vegetarian/vegan fare is delightful, especially when dietary requirements are well understood and dishes are open to adjustments.
Whenever I visit, GV, the manager will always greet us with his lively and upbeat personality. He is energetic, fun to talk to and always eager to explain the menu and offer suggestions about what to order. If you want your meals to be ‘veganized’, or unsure of what to order, he is the guy to approach. The service is attentive without being obtrusive.
Tonight, we ordered our usuals, Palak Aloo (potato spinach curry) and Dhal Tadka (lentil curry) with basmati rice and roti. Right after the staff took our order, we were immediately served complimentary papadum crackers with some mint dip.
Our meal came pretty fast. Everything was fresh and piping hot!
Palak Aloo is possibly my favourite curry. It is a classic Punjabi dish prepared with hearty potatoes and nutrient-rich spinach, slow-cooked to perfection with a balanced blend of exotic spices. Simple though it sounds, the combination of ingredients results in a true tongue-tickler! Balle Balle’s Palak Aloo is creamy in texture, medium in spice and has a unique smokey flavour, goes fantastically with rice or bread of choice.
This item is not on the menu; the closest alternative is Palak Paneer (spinach with cottage cheese) to which I asked if it can be veganized. Their menu has a vegetarian section, and most of the items on that page can be veganized by removing ghee (clarified butter) or paneer. Some options include vegan Samosa, Aloo Golbi (cauliflower potato), Chana Masala, Aloo Tikka Masala and many more.
At Balle Balle, they make the most of local spices and traditional cooking techniques — their prowess is evident in the balanced and bright flavours of the food. The ingredients used by the restaurant’s team of Indian chefs are directly from the Indian specialty store which is the owner’s other business venture.
Balle Balle opened in 2013 but despite the caliber of the food and experience overall, Balle Balle still seems to be flying under the radar. On a recent Friday night, you could walk in and get a table without a wait. But, empty tables were limited, and the restaurant was bustling.
If you are like me, wondering what “Balle Balle” means, it is said to be an “expression of joy”, it is a phrase uttered while dancing or found in Punjabi music. They obviously take pride in their Punjabi heritage.
HOW TO GET THERE?
ADDRESS: 12, Guangfu N Rd, Taipei City 105台北市松山區光復北路12號
PHONE: (+886) 2570-7265
OPENING HOURS: Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm ; 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm. Closed on Mondays