"Chicken Thali" set meal.
Gosh Curry, cooked with
Taichung's original Indian restaurateur keeps it strong at Cacti
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Ann Lee
22-1, CunZhong (TsuenJung) St
While the main focus of this article is Cacti Indian Cuisine, it's actually a two-for-one deal. Cacti owner Fred Lin cycles daily between his two Indian establishments, the other being Taichung's very first Indian restaurant, The Spice Shop. Lin, an overseas Chinese native of Kolkata who has lived in Taiwan for two decades, first opened back in 1994. Building on that success, he added the much-larger Cacti (which inherited its name from an earlier non-Indian occupant) about five years ago.
Today, Cacti remains slightly less-known than Spice Shop, in part because of its location in a quieter, pleasant neighborhood near the Art Museum. Nevertheless, it shares the same very popular menu and in many ways is nicer, with a roomy, attractive setting you can stretch out in. The white stucco-style building has been nicely decorated with bright orange, yellow and blue highlights, together with Indian knickknacks and the obligatory Bollywood poster.
Cacti and Spice Shop have enjoyed a steady flow of diners largely made up of Taiwanese who, Lin says, appreciate the restaurant's habit of toning down the heavy spiciness of Indian food. However, foreign and native Indian diners only need ask and the kitchen will pump up the volume on the curry and peppers. The extensive menu includes the full range of Indian grilled, chicken, mutton, beef, seafood and vegetable dishes, with popular items like the Chicken Tikka Masala (NT$250) and spicier Chicken Vindaloo (NT$250). A newer, well-liked addition is the charcoal grilled Tandoori Squid. Vegetarian offerings include Palak Paneer (pureed spinach with cottage cheese, NT$180), Allo Gobhi (potato and cauliflower), and well-known staple, Daal (yellow lentils, NT$140).
Cacti has one other significant plus over Spice Shop--a reasonably-priced menu of "Thali" (set) lunches/dinners (NT$220-280), available on weekdays (excluding national holidays). Those looking for a cheap all-in-one meal or perhaps a sampling of Indian cooking can try one. The "Chicken Thali" set, for example, comes with a warm, savory Samosa appetizer, small Indian salad, bowl of curry chicken, piece of chicken tikka, Allo Gobhi side dish, white rice, big disk of fragrant Naan bread, and iced tea. There are also beef, fish, mutton, shrimp, and vegetable Thali options.
Other meal extras on the menu include Paratha pan-fried bread, Lassi yogurt-based drinks, Masala Tea (NT$50) and, of course, India's Kingfisher Beer (NT$80). Add it all up and you have the makings of a tasty, belly-filling Indian dining experience!