vietnamese: cyclo noodle & rice (洛城牛肉粉)

date august 13, 2012

contact No. 377, Sec. 4, Renai Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區仁愛路四段377號/02.2752.8666

hours Monday-Saturday [lunch] 12:00-14:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-21:00 :: Closed Sundays

price <300NT (Cash only)

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (捷運國父紀念堂站) or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站)

website http://www.cyclopho.com/

A visiting friend from Sydney, Australia picked Cyclo for dinner based on a recommendation from his friend. I’d actually heard about Cyclo and it’s “LA style” pho from someone else, so being a Southern California girl I was excited to try.

Located on Renai Rd. (仁愛路) you can either take the MRT to Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化) and head south on Dunhua S. Rd. (敦化南路) then left on Renai Rd. or take the MRT to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念堂) and head south on Yanji St. (延吉街). If you’d rather take a bus, get off at Anhe Renai intersection (安和仁愛) and head east on Renai Rd. then left on Yanji. Although the address of Cyclo is on Renai Rd., the restaurant itself is located behind Renai Rd. off Yanji St.

On a Monday night around 7pm the restaurant was pretty crowded. I don’t think they take reservations so it’s just a waiting game.

The inside of Cyclo is pretty small and narrow. Tables run along the entire left side of the restaurant; there is also a long table on the right side near the door. At the very back of the restaurant is the kitchen, which is open so you can see what goes on behind the scenes. Everything inside Cyclo looks pretty new and clean.

The majority of the menu at Cyclo is in English and Chinese. The “For people who don’t eat noodles” and side dishes are only in Chinese, but it sounded like most of the servers speak some English. Note that each person gets their own menu to mark. Their signature dish is Vietnamese pho; however, they do offer three rice dishes, two other noodle dishes, and some side dishes.

We got:
– Beef noodle soup with three types of meat (清燉牛骨湯) 190NT
– Fried Spring Roll (炸春卷) 45NT
– LA style Spring Roll with fried shrimp (洛城生春卷) 65NT

Every table at Cyclo come equipped with a bottle of Sriracha sauce and a bottle of hoisin sauce, as well as a canister of pepper. I was happy to see the Sriracha because I’m pretty obsessed with it.

Since we ordered pho the server came out with two plates of raw bean sprouts, lemon wedges, chili peppers, and basil.

I decided to order the beef noodle soup (清燉牛肉湯) (aka pho) with light broth (淡), rare beef (生肉片), brisket (胸肉), and brisket point (黃金胸肉) for 190NT. Note that if you want to choose 4 types of beef you can for 230NT. You also have a choice between light broth and rich broth (濃); the light is the orignal. In addition you can choose between three types of noodles: rice starch noodles (細河粉), rice flour lath (板條), and thin noodles (細麵). I chose the rice starch noodles. Overall, I think this might be the best bowl of pho I’ve had in Taipei. It really did taste like pho I’d get at home in Southern California, which according to my Vietnamese friends is pretty good. The broth had a good beefy flavor and wasn’t too salty. All the meat was good, too. The noodles were also pretty good. Basically, as a whole, this was a bowl of deliciousness.

Will decided to order a few side dishes, so we ended up with the fried spring roll (炸春卷) for 45NT. One order comes with one fried spring roll cut in half. Stuffed with a pork and noodle mix, Will said it was pretty good.

Will also decided to order the LA style spring roll with fried shrimp (洛式生春卷) for 65NT. We noticed that you can choose what meat goes into the spring roll: fried shrimp (炸蝦) or American lunch meat (美式午餐肉). These spring rolls were pretty tasty. Like the fried spring roll, one order comes with one roll cut in half. While the serving size is small for the price, it’s still pretty tasty. I saw on Hungry Girl’s blog that the “American lunch meat” option is actually spam…not sure how I feel about that.

Overall, Cyclo was pretty delicious. The pho here was tasty and the side dishes were great, too. One thing we noticed was that they seemed to be out of a lot of things. Will had originally ordered the rice flour lath noodles, but they were out. He also tried ordering a variety of drinks that were all out as well. I guess the lesson learned is this: Cyclo is popular so come early to avoid lines and having everything already be sold out.

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