Out for a nonsensical wander, we zoomed down High Street, Epping, never expecting to see a place called Taj on High marooned in a concrete ocean that was once a Bunnings Warehouse carpark. In the millisecond we got to eyeball the joint, its decor actually looked good. So, in our never ending search for delicious Indian food, we had to go back and try!
While cavernously big and cold in size, we were pleasantly surprised by how new (they’re 2 years old as of this writing), clean and tidy the dining room was. And no, we didn’t mind the mish-mash of decor styles: industrial lighting versus neon bling-bling, elegant white table clothes versus Indian hip-hop on the big screen. As gaudy as it might seem to those more astute Melbourne foodies, it’s that glowing neon that caught our eye to begin with, so a credit to them for luring us moths to their light!
We were given the standard complimentary Poppadoms and Mint Chutney, which were as to be expected – crunchy and spicy thin wafers offset with a cooling mint dip. We did order drinks, but I just can’t recall their names. So for the sake of this blog, I’ll call them an I-can’t-remember-the-name-of-it Indian Beer ($7) and Oops-I-forgot-to-take-a-photo glass of a solidly good Cab Sav ($6.00).
Hubby Bear ordered the Beef Madrasi ($13.50), a main which he felt would be closest to his all-time favourite curry, and he was so glad he tried it! Super soft beef hidden among mustard seeds, curry leaves, and coconut swooshing around in a thick onion gravy – this one of the closest in flavour to his much loved Beef Madras at Machan in Eltham. Taj’s Madrasi dances around a similar depth in flavour to Machan’s, but doesn’t quite get there – but is darned good enough for Hubby Bear to polish off and be willing to have again! 😉
I had the Shahi Paneer ($12.99), which I find can alter considerably depending on where you get it from. Some places make it tomato based, while others have it more creamy and nutty. This rendition had the latter, a cashew-y rich gravy and big chunks of paneer. But unfortunately the curry lacked any significant spice to make me say “wow” but don’t get me wrong, I ate it! And it was executed well enough to warrant me trying other veg curries from the menu next time. We, of course, also ordered Plain Rice ($4.99) and yummy Garlic Naans ($2.99 each) to mop up all the curry from our plates.
The one downfall for Taj is this: two staff trying to wade through an Olympic pool sized dining room to deliver new orders to the kitchen, and pick up ready ones = slow service. In saying that, both servers were impeccable in their manner, incredibly friendly and full of beautiful smiles – which was a pleasure, when they could make their way to us!
Overall? We’re going back. That should say enough! 🙂
Address: 650 High Street, Epping Victoria 3076, Australia
Tip! Unless they increase their staff count, don’t go there all in a hurry! Be prepared to chillax to some modern Indian pop and hip-hop songs, and become entranced by their glowing mini Taj Mahal at the bar, while waiting for your meal.