Nothing beats the original.
I wasn’t too excited when my colleagues planned on taking me out to ‘Din Tai Fung’ as I did have it quite often before and rather wanted to try things I couldn’t get in Singapore instead. But the table was booked and of course I didn’t want to complain being treated for dinner and so lovely colleagues brought me to SOGO to enjoy some dumplings and noodles.
I was stunned and surprised as the food here was just so much better than in the outlets in Singapore. The ‘Spicy Wonton‘ were amazing, the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ simply perfect in taste and appearance and the ‘Shiao Mai‘ were much more like xiao long bao themselves, soupy goodness topped with a shrimp and actually the first version that I truly enjoyed. As dessert we ordered the steamed ‘Tapioca Dumplings‘ which I wasn’t really looking forward to but another surprise, they were pretty darn delicious, heavy and stuffing but delicious and not too sweet either. Thanks for a great evening and maybe I’ll suggest a refresher training for the Singapore branches once I’m back.
Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
B2 Fuxing SOGO Department Store
No. 300, Sec. 3 Zhongxiao East Road
Tel: +886 2 8772 0528
Fatter is better!
I haven’t been to VivoCity in over a year and was surprised how much it had actually changed and how many new shops and restaurants had opened up. One of them was ‘Le Nu’ a ‘Taiwanese Beef Noodle‘ shop that was so new the congratulation flowers were still standing around. I was just about to leave for another trip to Taipei and wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea but since I obviously don’t come by here very regularly and it looked kinda tempting I sat down and hoped for the best.
I ordered the standard bowl with braised brisket with the flat broader noodles and to my joy they also had these little side dishes which you always get in Taiwan so I had two of those as well. The cucumbers were great but the chilled beans with garlic were fantastic, squeaky and delicious. Then came my bowl and yet another positive note, the noodles they used were as fat as those at ‘18 Café‘, wonderful chewy and tasted awesome. The broth was rich of beefy flavours and I appreciated the spoon of preserved greens that added a certain bitterness. The catch was the beef, that taste wise was alright but unfortunately came out stringy and dry which also the freshly made signature bean dip couldn’t really help much with.
It wasn’t perfect, mainly because of the beef chunks but these were hands down the best ‘Taiwanese Beef Noodles’ that I have had in Singapore so far and I wouldn’t mind having those again, maybe trying the more expensive wagyu version next time. Best of success and stick around.
Le Nu 樂牛
1 Harbourfront Walk
Tel: +65 6376 9039
All day, every day, guotie.
I had this on my list for a million years but never seemed to narrow one of their shops down during my previous visits to Hong Kong. This time around wandering the streets of Causeway Bay today we literally ran into one.
These must be up there with the best takeout snacks there is, I mean “Guotie 2 Go”, come on! We had the original and the kimchi flavoured dumplings and both were fantastic even though the kimchi one was by far better because of the extra spicy flavours going on in there. The skin was super thin, nicely crusted and filled with a smooth meat, cabbage and chives mixture. I could’ve eaten this stuff all day. Watch out for the yellow sign.
Bafang Yunji 八方雲集
Nr. 5 Cannon Street 銅鑼灣景隆街5號地下3A舖 (multiple branches)
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2893 2558
Newer isn’t always better.
Food hunting did start getting on my nerves running through Ximending with a whole bunch of people who couldn’t agree on what to eat. We finally settled on a modern franchise looking beef noodle shop a couple of streets further in, away from the buzzin’ around the Red House. It even had aircon, how nifty.
I didn’t change nothing and had my usual ‘Spicy Beef Noodles‘ (牛公館牛肉麵) again but what came to the table here wasn’t remotely close to matching any of the great bowls I had during the past few days. The broth itself was just okay but the noodles were pretty ordinary, starchy and didn’t add anything to the flavour and the meat was tough and dry.
One bad bowl out of four is not a horrible hit rate but I was still disappointed knowing what kind of gems are around here and how our dinner could’ve turned out otherwise. Anyway staff was very friendly and the shop is also very conveniently located but unfortunately that won’t be enough to bring me back here again.
Niu Kung Kuan 牛公館牛肉麵
No. 78 Xiníng South Road / 西寧南路78號
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2314 6298
This is “Se One”!
This was the shop I had my first ever Taiwanese beef noodles in – truly an eye opening experience as you might imagine – and it’s also one of the, let’s say older and original places, which easily can be mixed up with dodgy and sticky. No really, the place is clean, just has it’s shining days of glory behind it, what obviously doesn’t impact it’s popularity as it has always been pretty busy around here when I came by.
They didn’t have small or big portions here, just one size, which I reckon came closer to the larger bowls I had. Sure enough I ordered the ‘Spicy Beef Noodles‘ or ‘Hong Shao’ (红烧牛肉麵) and for a change I actually got what I asked for. It wasn’t overly hot but I absolutely loved it, that much that I didn’t even care that the added chilli oil hyped up the calories even more than usual. The noodles here were wicked, long and firm with a great taste to them, that, together with the loads of tender brisket bits made this my favourite bowl of beef noodles in Taipei to date. So good.
Again no polished facade, not even a signboard but friendly enough people, absolutely outstanding simple food and for NT$150 a bowl a total steal as well. How fantastic that our corporate hotel is just down the road from here so I have the chance to come back even if the days at the office get longer.
Taoyuan Street Beef Noodles 桃源街牛肉麵 / (Old Wang Beef Noodles 桃源街牛肉麵/老王)
No.15 TaoYuan Street / 台北市桃源街十五號
Zhongzheng District (Jhongjheng)
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2375 8973
Beef noodles fancy pants.
What’s the perfect follow up for a great beef noodle lunch? Right, an equally great beef noodle dinner. That settled I met up with a friend at ’18 Cafe’ in a different corner of Da’an district. This place was completely different to ‘Yong Kang’s‘ coffeeshop from this afternoon, modern interior, spotlights over each table, classy almost hip but still with a nice and cosy atmosphere.
As different as the restaurants were, so were their ‘Beef Noodles‘. They take a modern and fusion twist on their food here and the noodles were no exception. They used ingredients I hadn’t seen in this dish before like slightly bitter blanched spinach, fresh cilantro, some tomato chunks and daikon roots and a pretty darn good tasting meatball. At first I was concerned about that one but it was perfectly soft and had a delicious but alien flavour which I’m sure came from mixed in lemongrass. The other more ordinary beef bits were ok too but he ratio of tendon was just a bit too high for my preference. And then there was the strong beef broth packed with super wide noodles that, like so often, were my most favourite part about this. They were thick and chewy and actually reminded more of Italian pasta than your usual Chinese noodles (if there actually is such a thing).
Just before the soup, we also shared their ‘Signature Seafood Salad‘ which was top. Everything was super fresh, the greens were crunchy, the prawns and squid had a lovely firm bite, fish was soft and sweet and the chunky avocado added yet another texture to the bunch. The dressing, even though a bit too heavy on the oil, was citrusy and just simple as I like it.
Delicious and apparently award winning fusion Taiwanese cuisine coming up in huge servings; I didn’t hear myself complain and sure will be coming back to this one again during one of my next visits.
No.55 Section 1 Anhe Road
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2775 5530
Is Yong Kang really the best?
It wasn’t long until my ‘Beef Noodle‘ marathon began and this time I had to have ‘Yong Kang’s’ noodles which are ranked as the best in Taipei by many local food bloggers. The last trip we couldn’t nail this place down walking the alleys of Da’an around Yongkang street up and down but just couldn’t find it. Even this time together with my Taiwanese colleague it took us some extra rounds to get here and then there was a queue in front despite the rain but thankfully it wasn’t too long ’til we got in.
My spicy version of the ‘Beef Noodles‘ was great even though as usual not spicy at all. The broth was dark and tasted slightly like goulash with a sour touch. The noodles were plenty and shaped like edged thicker spaghetti. The meat was fantastic, it fell apart and the fat just disappeared into nowhere but I didn’t like the free flow preserved veggies here; they were maybe a just a bit too well preserved and tasted bitterish. They also had those awesome little plates you pick from the counter and I particularly liked the garlic loaded snappy cucumbers and roots and for it’s positively weird taste the seemingly caramel soaked sweet tofu.
‘Yongkang’ is like most beef noodle shops in Taipei, oldish, a bit dodgy and ran down, service isn’t really of the heartwarming kind but the food is in focus and here they actually did a pretty good job with it. I’m not sure if it is really the best beef noodle shop in Taipei but it’s definitely up there in my personal top five.
Yong Kang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麺館
No.17 Lane 31 Section 2 Jinshan South Road
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2351 1051
Slack Season Noodles and pork in a pot.
I was lucky enough that another work trip brought me back to Taipei and I planned to go back to all the places we had found during our holidays last year and try others I didn’t have the time for then. My first stop was at Da’an and brought me back to a shop we only tried out because there was a massive metal kettle including cook sitting in the window.
This time around I was by myself which didn’t hold me back from over ordering heavily. I started up with two of their three different types of ‘Dan Tzai‘-, ‘Tan Tsi‘- or ‘Slack Season Noodles‘, a local speciality from Tainan. I had the signature and my favourite, the thick rice noodle version, both with soup as I never seem to get the order for the the dry type right. The bowl was a mix of several light flavours, the thin broth with the lovely braised pork mince, some cilantro, the fresh little prawn with a good bite and the great rice noodles that reminded me a lot of thicker ‘Chee Cheong Fun‘. Brilliant stuff. I also had the ‘Braised Pork Rice‘ which wouldn’t win a beauty contest but was terribly satisfying. Quite sinful, the pork has been braised for a long time in the huge metal pot, was lardy and rich, bedded on top of a bed from roundish, bigger grained rice.
As a light side I chose the ‘Stir Fry Bean Sprouts‘ which were as great as veggies can get, boiled but still with some texture, fresh and light, garlicky and juicy with some chilli to gently kick your taste bud’s butts.
I love this place, simple food made great with friendly people to serve it, a picture menu with a tick box order sheet for the non-Mandarin speakers and that all in the middle of one of the nicest areas of Taipei. See you next time.
Tu Hsiao Yueh 度小月
NO. 9-1 Yongkang Street
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 3393 1325
Taiwanese lunch at Jem.
We didn’t feel like our usual lunch options today and then one colleague suggested ‘Din Tai Fung’, another colleague really liked the idea and I haven’t been there for over a year plus so it became our choice for the day. They were a bit understaffed so it took us some time to get seated even that half the restaurant was empty.
Finally in we started of with the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ which they are obviously famous for. Their skin was nicely thin but strong enough not to break when picking them out of the basket but the broth and meat seemed a bit watery and bland in taste. I’d still prefer the steamed buns from ‘Crystal Jade‘, ‘Hong Guo‘ or ‘Si Chuan Dou Hua‘.
I had upset my stomach with something so I skipped the new ‘Spicy Noodles‘ on the menu and went with the ‘Braised Brisket Beef Noodles‘ instead. It was actually quite nice, the broth was rich and beefy and deep dark in color and tasted a bit like goulash with a hint of tomato. When I slurped the last sips from the bowl I particularly enjoyed the roasted garlic and ginger bits that were like refreshing but more hearty pop rocks. The beef was alright and tender but unfortunately pretty fatty too but the letdown were actually the noodles that tasted okay but were downright overcooked.
It’s a chain restaurant so it doesn’t really impress with its’ excess of flair and atmosphere and unfortunately this time I was also rather disappointed with the food. In Germany I would be endlessly happy to have a place like this but here the standards are just on another level.
Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
50 Jurong Gateway Road
Tel: +65 6694 1161
Beef Noodles? Yes. The Real Deal? Uhm…
We were actually planning on a sandwich lunch but one of my colleagues wasn’t feeling to brilliant and thought a hot noodle soup would do the trick and so we ended up going to ‘Liu San’, a Taiwanese restaurant at Bukit Timah Plaza I wanted to check out for some time now.
We ordered some ‘Boiled and Panfried Dumplings‘ for starters which were both okay but not too special also with a much higher cabbage ratio compared to the meat. The panfried version reminded me of gyoza and nicely had a very thin skin. The main reason we came here though were the ‘Taiwanese Beef Noodles‘, a dish I’m nearly as particular about as ramen. This was actually quite surprising, the broth was deep dark and had the typical beefy sweet & sourness with a hint of heat as advertised as the spicy version. My colleague mentioned there was too much soya sauce in it but I thought that it wasn’t too bad for a non-Taiwanese version, but then it has been some time since I had the real deal. I particularly liked the carrots that were not overcooked and fitted nicely in with the other ingredients. The noodles seemed to be the supermarket kind, a bit too floury in taste and texture that left the usual chewiness missing. Last but not least the meat was thinly sliced with a lot of fat which at least was tender enough. I knew I probably wouldn’t get the nice big beef chunks like in Taipei but would have loved them to be just a little bit thicker.
Overall this was an ok choice for lunch, the broth was pretty good actually but beef and noodles could use some pimping. I would say not a bad bowl of noodles even though far from the stuff you get in Taiwan but I guess that’s a useless comment as that is pretty much always the case. Probably coming back but mainly to try their ‘Rice With Simmered Pork‘ or the ‘Minced Pork Noodle‘.
Liu San 劉三閣
1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-09 Bukit Timah
Tel: +65 6463 1833