Tag Archives: beef noodle soup

taiwanese: old wangji beef noodle king aka taoyuan st. beef noodle (老王記牛肉麵大王 aka 桃源街牛肉麵)

date september 01, 2012

contact No. 15, Taoyuan St., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區桃源街15號/02.2375.8973

hours 7 days a week 10:00-21:00

price 180NT per bowl

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Ximen Station Exit 4 (捷運西門站4號出口)

All photos were taken with my iPhone 4s.

Sorry for the lack of posts in 2012. Overall, 2012 was a tough year for me: several family deaths and a lot of change. Hopefully 2013 has better things in store, including food! I’ll try to be better this year.

Onto the food.

My friend and her boyfriend wanted to take me to their favorite place in Taipei for beef noodle soup (牛肉麵). Everyone knows about the famous beef noodle shops located on Yong Kang St. (永康街), but this shop is a favorite among local Taipei residents and not at all touristy. From what I’ve heard, this shop has been around for over 50 years. This super busy beef noodle shop doesn’t have a sign or any indicators identifying it as a beef noodle shop, just an open kitchen with bowls of beef noodle soup being ladled out.

Located near Ximending (西門町), the shop’s official name is Old Wangji Beef Noodle King  (老王記牛肉麵大王); however, is known more commonly known as Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle (桃源街牛肉麵), as it is located on Taoyuan St. The shop is only a short walk from exit 4 of MRT Ximen station stop, located on Taoyuan St. (桃源街) between Hengyang Rd. (衡陽路) and Baoqing Rd. (寶慶路). Easiest way to find it is to walk down Baoqing Rd. (the street the Far East Department Store [遠東百貨]) until you hit Taoyuan St., make a left on Taoyuan and you’ll see the signless shop on the right.

The store itself looks kind of ghetto from the outside, but the two-story interior is clean enough, very Taiwanese mom and pop shop-like.

According to my friends, there is often a long line vying for a seat and a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup. Luckily the night we went the line wasn’t too long. Regardless, the line went pretty quick.

One of the first things I noticed, no tourists. Unlike places like Lao Zhang and Yong Kang Beef Noodle I saw no tourists while I was waiting, eating, or exiting. This place is a local spot all the way.

The menu, which can be found on the wall in Chinese only, consists of only 7 items:
1. Taiwanese-style Kimchi (泡菜) – 30NT
2. Pig’s Feet (豬腳) – 110NT
3. Steamed Spareribs with Rice Flour (粉蒸排骨) – 110NT
4. Pig’s Feet Noodles (豬腳麵) – 150NT
5. Soup Noodles (湯麵) – 120NT
6. Beef Soup (牛肉湯) – 180NT
7. Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵) [clear or braised broth] – 180NT

We each ordered our own bowl of noodles (I ordered the braised broth [紅燒] beef noodle soup) and a steamed spareribs with rice flour to split.

Note that each table is equipped with a bowl of pickled mustard greens (酸菜) to add to your own taste.

My order of the braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) was pretty standard in size. I thought the broth was pretty tasty. It wasn’t as rich as other braised broths and not spicy at all like other establishments are said to be, such as Yong Kang Beef Noodle, but it was pretty good, a tad oily, but good. The noodles were pretty average: chewy enough, but could be chewier (for me at least). I was a little let down by the beef. It wasn’t as melt-in-your-mouth tender as I’m used to; however, my friends said that it usually is. Either way, the beef was good, just not as tender as I would have hoped. 

Val ordered the clear broth beef noodle soup (清燉牛肉麵). I had a taste and thought the broth was pretty good: rich in beef flavor, but still subtle enough to not be too salty . She was fighting off a cold so the clear broth was perfect for her. Again, the beef wasn’t as tender as I would have wanted, but still not bad.

When our order of steamed sparerib with rice flour (粉蒸排骨) came out the first thing I noticed was that it looked a little mushy…Unfortunately, the look was indicative of the taste. I’m used a little more texture in this dish, but this one was just a little mushy. The flavor, however, was pretty good. The best part was the hidden sweet potato at the bottom of the bamboo basket. The sweet potato had become infused with the pork flavor and spices used to flavor dish.

Overall, I liked Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle. In reality, there are so many beef noodle shops in Taiwan that picking the best is impossible. Like all food, “best” is subjective. Favorites are dependent on personal preference and taste. Would I say Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle is my favorite? No. But do I think it’s worth a try? Definitely.

Oh, random note. Since entering the smartphone world I’ve started foodspotting. Want to know what I’m eating on a daily basis? Follow me on foodspotting!

taiwanese/festival: 2009 beef noodle festival.

date November 22, 2009

contact Civic Hall in front of Taipei City Hall (Taipei City)

hours November 20-22 2009/9am-7pm

price 50NT per bowl

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

website http://sinotour.com/news/609.html

nearest mrt MRT Taipei City Hall (市政府捷運站)

Since the 2010 Beef Noodle Festival is fast approaching, I figured I should write about my experience last year at the 2009 Beef Noodle Festival (aka 2009 Taipei International New Row Mian Festival). I love festivals and try to go to as many as I can, especially ones where the main event is food. I went to the International Food Expo in Taipei earlier this year, and went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA in 2008, so when I heard there was a beef noodle soup festival, I had to go.

We went on the last day of the festival around 17:00. Being the last day of the festival and close to closing time we hit the jackpot: buy one get one free! Best thing to do is go with a group. That way, you can share the bowls and try a lot of them. The bowls are not big, they are small cups, but good enough helpings where you don’t want to eat a whole one yourself.

I ended up trying beef noodle soup from 4 stalls all for 100NT (I went in a group of two couples, so we each bought bowls from two stalls, and then since it was buy one get one, swapped bowls). Super amazing bargain. You can get a pamphlet that has all the shops listed who participated in the festival. It’s pretty awesome. They have places to sit and everything is covered, so if it rains, you’re safe-ish.

There were lots of people at the festival and it’s not very big, so it’s kind of a mad house. Lots of lines, and lots of people yelling into microphones. It’s kind of hilarious because every stall starts to have specials to get rid of their stock. One stand will start with, buy one get two free, then the stand next to it will be like, buy one get two plus a drink, and so on. Be ready for it to be loud and crowded, but it’s too good to not go.

This year’s festival will be held once again at Civic Plaza this coming weekend December 3-5. Festivities will begin on Friday the 3rd at 2pm. Don’t miss out!

For more information about this year’s Beef Noodle Festival visit the Taipei City Government’s website (English) or the official 2010 Taipei International New Row Mian Festival website (Chinese).

taiwanese: seventy-two beef noodle (七十二牛肉麵)

date 12.02.2009

contact No. 188, Sec. 1, Jian-Guo South Road, Da-An District, Taipei/02.2752.5970/台北市大安區建國南路一段188號

hours Monday-Saturday 11am-2am, Sunday 11am-9pm

price 100-200NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

My goal is to go to every 4 star rated beef noodle store in Taipei, according to the 2009 New Row Mian Festival Guide. Seventy-two Beef Noodle was first on that list of places to try. After seeing the picture of the white broth soup, a group of us decided we had to see what was so great about it.


spicy steamed stinky tofu (30NT)

First excuse the crappy photo. My camera died and my boyfriend’s camera does not like the indoors or things too close to its lens. While the boys went to find drinks, we spotted something that looked like stinky tofu and decided we had to order it. It ended up being spicy steamed stinky tofu (麻辣臭豆腐). For 30NT this was definitely worth it. The meat that is on top of is is pretty good and the sauce was tasty. It didn’t taste mala/spicy to me though, but still good.

clear broth beef noodle (130NT)

Honestly, I think we all had really high expectations of what this broth would taste like. At first sip the clear broth beef noodle (清燉牛肉麵) does not taste very rich. The cloudy color of the broth is from the ox bones they use to make it. According to their menu, they brew the broth for 72 hours with ox bones. The bone taste if very prevalent; you definitely know you’re drinking bone soup. While the soup is rich in the bone flavor, I felt like it lacked other  flavor. They have chili sauce on the table as well as rose salt (玫瑰鹽), which if you add a little of both, we thought enhanced the broth tremendously. I think the biggest problem was the noodles, which didn’t soak up any of the broth taste. As a result the noodles were bland, and since the broth was light, the noodles with the soup made everything taste bland. The beef, however, was good and very tender. One other thing the soup was lacking was a vegetable.

Honestly, I liked the broth, but I think when I go to eat beef noodles I expect rich flavor. This just wasn’t what I was expecting. While this bowl was different, it was still good, and definitely worth a try.

broth stewing at seventy-two beef noodle.

taiwanese: zhang mama’s beef noodle (張媽媽牛肉麵)

date 11.18.09

contact He-Ping East Road, Sec. 1, No. 18, Da-An District, Taipei/02.2366.1125/台北市大安區和平東路一段18號

hours not listed

price 150-250NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

When I try a new beef noodle soup place I have high expectations. Zhang Mama’s Beef Noodle is not bad. I pass by it every day on my way to class and a few weeks ago we decided we should give it a try. Tonight was our second time at Zhang Mama’s and tonight’s food was better than the first time.

inside zhang mama's.

Zhang Mama’s is a small shop. Probably seats around 20. It just recently was remodeled (it was completely torn out and redone in like a week. Have to love Taiwanese work ethic.) and looks pretty nice inside.

signature cucumbers (35NT)

My favorite thing here, and probably the reason I went back, was for their cucumber side dish (35NT). I went in another time and they were out of the cucumbers, so I left. Today, we went in around 5:30pm for dinner and we got the last one. Their cucumbers are a “signature” dish on the menu. They’re really crispy, garlicy, and perfectly seasoned, not too salty, not too sweet, and not too vinegary. They are my favorite in Taipei so far.

bean sprouts (35NT)

The bean sprouts here are pretty good. There is a lot of oil, so that’s kind of annoying, but the flavor is good. It’s not spicy, even though there are peppers in it.

small bowl tomato beef noodle (170NT)

I like the tomato based beef noodle soup here the best. They also have Zhang Mama’s beef noodle soup which I have not tried, but it looks like it’s braised and has tripe in it, which I don’t like. I’ve had the braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) and thought the soup was too salty and the beef flavor was drown out. The tomato beef noodle, however, has a good flavorful broth: not too salty and tastes like tomato without being overpowering. One of my favorite parts is that there are actually chunks of tomato that have soaked up the broth. The noodles are okay, I prefer noodles that are thinner and less chewy, even so, these noodles are pretty good. The first time we came to Zhang Mama’s the beef was not good; it was tough, dry, and chewy. Today the beef was much better, more tender, and less chewy. Still the beef was not that great which makes me sad.

Overall I think that Zhang Mama’s is okay. I like it for it’s proximity to my house and for the cucumbers. It’s not a bad bowl of beef noodle soup, but there are plenty more in Taipei that are much better. Despite that, if I’m hungry and wanting beef noodle soup that’s close by, Zhang Mama’s isn’t a bad option.

taiwanese: yong-kang beef noodle (永康牛肉麵)

yong-kang beef noodle.

date 11.04.09

contact Jin-Shan South Road, Sec. 2, Lane 31, No. 17, XinYi District, Taipei/02.2351.0109/台北市金山南路二段31巷17號

hours 7 days a week 11am-9:30pm

price 150-200NT

website http://www.beefnoodle-master.com (Chinese Only)

rating ♥♥♥♥(4 out of 5 hearts)

One of my favorite things to eat in Taiwan is beef noodle soup (牛肉麵). The beef noodle soup on Yong-Kang St. is famous and rightfully so. Yong-Kang Beef Noodle is a two story building and often busy during prime meal time. Every bowl comes in small or large, I opt for the small which is more than plenty for me. My favorite is the braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵, 160NT for a small bowl).

Braised beef noodle soup (160NT).
braised beef noodle soup (160NT).

One of the best things about the beef noodle soup here is that the beef is always tender; I hate when the beef is chewy and dry. I am all about the broth when it comes to noodle soups. If the broth isn’t good, I don’t want it. Here at Yong-Kang Beef Noodle the broth is one of my favorite parts. Yes it’s salty, it’s supposed to be it’s soy sauce flavored, but it’s good. The flavor is great, rich, but in a good way. It is, however, not very spicy for those used to braised beef noodle soup being spicy. The noodles are good too: not too chewy, not soggy, thin though, not thick like many places are. Overall, this is a good bowl of noodle soup worth your 160NT.

Eggplant side dish (40NT).
eggplant side dish (40NT).
Side dish madness.
side dish madness.

The side dish selection here is amazing. Unlike other stores where the side dishes are already pre-dished out, you have to go up to the front and tell them what you want. From there they’ll scoop out a portion for you and send it to your table or just hand it to you there. My favorite is the eggplant. It’s perfectly seasoned and never tastes old. I’ve also had the cucumbers here which are good as well. They are a little more on the sweeter side if you’re expecting pickled and salty. However, they’re really crunchy, which is good, and not overly sweet, just sweet enough to possibly throw you if it’s not what you’re expecting.

Overall, the beef noodle soup here is famous for a reason. It’s pretty averaged priced for beef noodle soup, but not average tasting. The large bowls don’t look that much larger than the small bowls, but then again looks could be deceiving.

a&j restaurant.

date 01.07.09

contact 10893 N Wolfe Rd/Cupertino, CA 95014/408.873.8298

hours Mon-Fri.11:30am-9pm

price <$10 (CASH ONLY)

Taiwanese food is one of those things that I crave all the time. Maybe it’s the Taiwanese in me or maybe it’s because I miss Taiwan so much or maybe it’s just because I love Taiwan. Whatever it maybe, Taiwanese food  is delicious and unfortunately difficult to find in the US. One of my favorite places to go to satisfy my craving is A&J’s in Cupertino.

A&J’s is a Taiwanese restaurant with actual branches in Taiwan. Food is ordered on a checklist that each table is provided with when they sit down. Be warned, this checklist is completely in Chinese. For those who don’t read Chinese they’ll provide you with a Chinese/English menu as well, but you have to order on the checklist. Many a time have I seen poor non-Chinese people trying to match the characters they see on the English menu to the Chinese characters on the checklist. The A&J’s in Cupertino seems to have more English speaking workers, but in Irvine I feel like the mix and match Chinese character game is more likely.

The Chinese Menu.
The Chinese Menu.
The English Menu.
The English Menu.

I always start out with some 小菜 (small dishes, kind of like snacks or appetizers). First thing I usually order is 麻辣黃瓜 (cucumbers in hot garlic sauce, $3.25). I love it. It’s crunchy, a little sweet, spicy, and refreshing. I like to save some and eat it with my main dinner, to give it a little extra crunch. Dan always likes the 皮蛋豆腐 (thousand year old egg with tofu, $3.65), but they were out that night so we got 香菜豆干 (dried bean curd with cilantro and peanuts, $2.25). We had never gotten it before, but it was pretty tasty. Cilantro with dried bean curd is really good for some reason; they compliment each other.

(L to R) 香菜豆干 and 麻辣黃瓜
(L to R) 香菜豆干 and 麻辣黃瓜

For my main dinner, my favorite thing to get by far is the 紅燒牛肉麵 (hot and spicy beef noodle soup, $6.75). I’m not sure why they call it “hot and spicy” because it really isn’t, but that’s what they have it as on the English menu. I always get it with 細麵 (thin noodles), but you can get it with 厚麵 (thick noodles). I just prefer noodles that aren’t so chewy. Beef noodle soup is a popular Taiwanese dish. In Taipei there is a store that has the best 紅燒牛肉麵 ever. It’s hard to come by places that have really good broth, to me at least. A&J is by no means the best beef noodle soup I’ve ever had, but it’s my favorite beef noodle soup I can get in the US. The broth is rich, but not too salty or oily which I’ve found many places to be. The beef tendon is usually pretty good too. I’m getting hungry just talking about it.

紅燒牛肉麵 (Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup, $6.75)
紅燒牛肉麵 (Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup, $6.75)

We also always order either 蔥油餅 (onion pancake, $2.75) or 抓餅 (thousand layer pancake, $2.75). This time we decided to order the 抓餅 (thousand layer pancake). It was great. Perfectly flaky, not too oily, and fresh, just the way it should be. It’s great when you order the beef noodle soup too cause you can dip the pancake into your soup.

抓餅 (Thousand Layer Pancake, $2.75)
抓餅 (Thousand Layer Pancake, $2.75)

Sometimes we’ll order something else at random just cause we’re hungry. Dan was hungry so he decided to order some 小龍包 (steamed soup dumplings, $2.95). One order comes with four dumplings. They’re filled with a pork filling and aren’t bad, but they aren’t great. You could get better somewhere else.

小龍包 (Steamed Soup Dumplings, $2.95)
小龍包 (Steamed Soup Dumplings, $2.95)

Overall you can easily eat a meal for two here for about $20. Service isn’t amazing, but I mean, the more authentic the worse the service. It’s not that they completely neglect you, but if you don’t speak any Chinese good luck trying to get someone’s attention. Oh, and don’t forget cash, the don’t take cards. For Taiwanese food, I’d recommend it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite places to eat.