Trinity Indian Stores

The exterior of the building that houses the store. Despite the large poster and sign outside, I’d walked past it several times without noticing it. The store is on the second floor (first to we Brits).

Perhaps not from the very minute I started this blog,  but fairly early on,I realised that, with a fair number of  blogs relating to Taiwan already out there, I wanted it to be a little different. I don’t mean stylistically, though that too, but in the actual content I would present.

Generally I try not to write about stuff other people are writing about and, if I should sometimes stray from this defining maxim, stumbling down well-traversed paths, in doing so, I try my damnedest to leave deeper footprints than those who’ve gone before.

Trinity Indian Stores is well-known to gourmands, restaurateurs and most Taipei old hands worth their cardamon seed. When I finally managed to locate it just a couple of minutes walk from where I’d been doing some voice recording yesterday, I felt like I usually do in secondhand bookstores:  giddy with excitement at the breadth at so much good stuff ; picking up everything in sight and replacing it without even properly looking; wanting to buy everything and invariably walking out with nothing.

In fact I did makes some purchases for a BBQ at mine tomorrow: chickpeas and  seasoning for one of my flagship simple but effective dishes (chana masala), a chicken tikka masala BBQ marinade, and a palak paneer sauce. I also put in an order for half a kilo of paneer (similar to cottage cheese), which they only order in every few months. At other times, Neville Chen and his brother, who man the store in the absence of its Indian owner, will make it for you if you order in advance.

Chen is an engaging chap. Chewing on leaf-wrapped, double-hit binglangs that are flecked with sour plum powder, and taking breaks in his narrative to attend to his empire-building in whatever multi-player RPG it is he’s playing,  he gives me a detailed rundown of how a Hakka Chinese ended up being born and raised in West Bengal.

“My grandfather ran away from China during World War II,” he says in a familiar Indian-English accent that is amusingly peculiar coming out of the mouth of a Chinese person. (He also does the requisite side-to-side head wobbles.) “He was running from the Red Cross, you know? Not the emergency medical one. But that fucking bastard Mao Zedong.”

“The Red Army?” I offer.

“Yes, that’s it. Well those fuckers wanted his land and there is no way you cab get out of it or get it back later. So there is no point in staying there anymore. So he ran away.”

Were they KMT supporters?

“Nothing to do with that. KMT, Mingjindang (民進黨) [there was no point in pointing out the obvious here as he was in full flow and it was fun], it doesn’t matter. Those bastards just tell you they want your land and that’s it.”

Neville hard at “work.”

“Let me explain,” he said, standing up to better act out the story, the same way I do, a habit that friends and family find either annoying or silly. “My grandfather was a good guy. He didn’t rip off the farmers. I’m not a farmer, so I don’t know the exact amount, but let’s say you made 20 k.g. of whatever on your land. After that, he would say ‘Every extra kilo is yours.’ He allowed his farmers to live and eat and do well for their families. But the Red Cross Army, they don’t think like that. They ask you ‘How much do you need to eat everyday?’ Let’s say you need just one biandang (便當) for each of your family. You tell them 500NT. But they say, ‘Noooo … We can see you are doing well. You don’t need that much. You can have 100 and we’ll take the rest. That is what they are fucking doing …”

As I left the store, Neville was going into the kitchen. “I’ll do that paneer for you now. My brother will be here tomorrow. He’ll have it for you.”

Today, I went back during my lunch break to pick it up.

“Paneer? No, no paneer,” says bro. He get’s on the phone to Neville. “Oh, he forgot.”

Neville’s a nice enough chap, warp-speed loquacious, and liberal with the invective, but in a way I like. I do suspect that he is allows  computer gaming to dominate, though, when he should be handling his biz.  I’m definitely asking for a discount tomorrow.


Trinity Indian Stores: 2/F, No.137 Zhongxiao East Rd., Sec. 5, Taipei (台北市忠孝東路五段137號2樓). The shop is in a normal residential-type apartment building and is pretty easy to miss. Get out at City Hall (市政府) MRT, exit 4, turn left and walk for a couple of minutes max (if you’re a snail pacer) and you’ll be there. If you get to the corner of Yongji Rd. (永吉路), you’ve gone to far.

Tel: (02)2756 7992

e-mail: (You might catch Neville there as there’s a good chance he’ll be on the computer.)


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