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Taiwanese

Nothing beats the original.

imageI 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
Da’an District
Taipei 10654
Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 8772 0528
http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/

Fatter is better!

imageI 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
#02-91/92/93 VivoCity
Singapore 098585
Tel: +65 6376 9039
http://www.paradisegp.com

All day, every day, guotie.

imageI 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.

imageThese 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)
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2893 2558
http://www.8way.asia/

Newer isn’t always better.

imageFood 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
Wanhua District
Taipei City
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2314 6298

This is “Se One”!

imageThis 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.

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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)
Taipei City
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2375 8973

Beef noodles fancy pants.

imageWhat’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).

imageJust 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.

18 Café
No.55 Section 1 Anhe Road
Taipei City
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2775 5530
http://www.room18.com.tw/

Is Yong Kang really the best?

imageIt 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.

imageYong Kang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麺館
No.17 Lane 31 Section 2 Jinshan South Road
Taipei City
Taiwan / Republic of China
Tel: +886 2 2351 1051
http://www.beefnoodle-master.com/