29 September 2015

台灣牛肉面湯 Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup | Best Beef Noodles in Taipei

* this blog post was originally written on 11 July 2014, and has been updated on 29 September 2015*

I'm a sucker when it comes to good beef, and that is perhaps why I fell in love with 台灣牛肉面 Taiwanese Beef Noodles. Unlike our local version of beef noodles we find in Singapore food courts, the Taiwanese version does not come with a thick sticky gravy and boasts of a clear flavorful broth or a spicy soup base. And while the beef slices in the Singapore version are usually very thin, the Taiwanese version boasts of thick chunks of tender beef. When you imagine the thick chunks as a whole piece, it's as good as you've consumed an entire piece of steak!

There is no absolute time to eat beef noodles in Taiwan. Many stores are open from early in the morning. When I told my Taiwanese friends that I often eat a bowl of piping hot beef noodles for breakfast, they were astonished. I learnt from them that it is usually the older generation that consume the heavy noodle dish in the morning. Opps!

The following are a list of beef noodle stores in Taipei that I've personally tried and tasted during my travels:

Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodle King

Undisputed - this is the BEST beef noodles in Taipei according to Hubby and me! Our taste buds don't often agree, but 老王記牛肉麵大王 is the place that we always make time to visit even if it's just one hour before we rush to the airport for our flight home.

Our favorite beef noodle shop is also known as Taoyuan Street Beef Noodle as it's located at Taoyuan Street, near Ximending vicinity. It is a short 5-10 minutes walk from Ximen MRT (depending on your walking speed)

Open daily from 10am to 9pm, a sumptuous hot steaming bowl of beef noodles is a great way to start or end a vacation day. Two choices - a clear broth or a spicy broth, each bowl costs TWD 180 (about SGD 7).

This eatery boasts of very tender beef in a delicious clear broth. The thick beef slices are so tender that they gently tear away when you hold them up with your chop sticks. The above photograph is the clear broth taken without spring onions (yeah, I am not a fan of spring onions and parsley)

I prefer to add heaps of preserved sour vegetables to enhance the soup base. A free pot of preserved sour vegetables is available on each table, and I often consume erm... more than half the pot! There were times I asked the waitress to refill the pot (sheepish smile)

While sometimes you may need to queue a while to get a seat, the queue clears quickly and kudos to their superbly fast service - that's great as I'm always hungry in Taiwan!

How to get there: 15 Taoyuan Street. At Ximen MRT, exit from Exit 3 Far East Shopping Mall. Go straight along Baoqing Road, turn left on Taoyuan Road. The restaurant is on your left side across the road. There is no visible signboard, and the kitchen is facing the street with a big red sign warning no photography of the kitchen. The eatery entrance is to the left of the kitchen pictured, under a red canvas shelter.

Chuan Wei Lao Zhang Beef Noodle Shop

A Taiwanese colleague introduced 川味老張牛肉麵店 in Yong Kang district (open from Wednesdays to Mondays 11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm). Quite an easy walk about 10-15 minutes from Dongmen MRT station

I've been there twice to see if my opinion might change for the better. 

Unlike 老王記牛肉麵大王 which serves almost instantaneously, you have to wait for your food. at 川味老張牛肉麵店. During my first trip there alone, the eatery was half-full and I waited at least 15 minutes. During my second trip there with Hubby, the waitress told us to order quickly otherwise our order would be processed after the tour group which has just arrived. Despite our quick orders, we waited more than 30 minutes. Sometimes I wonder why we are so patient... (waited 2.5 hours when Tim Ho Wan first comes to Singapore, bur that was worth the wait)

On both occasions, I had the tomato soup base which was tangy and thick, much to my liking. There were no signs of tomato pulp though. Maybe they might have use tomato puree (or worse... ketchup) to make the soup haha... ok maybe they filtered the soup base before serving 

Hubby had the clear broth.. and kept scooping from my tomato soup instead. That should give you a good idea of his verdict.

The noodles were not chewy, nor were they overcooked. I don't know what is a good description, but we don't like the noodles. The tourists that were sharing our table had two bites of the noodles and stopped eating. 

The shop is decorated with a lot of photographs that the lady boss has taken with celebrities. Maybe their food were really good in the past, but I guess that their quality standards have taken a big dip as they shift their focus towards delivering mass orders to tour group customers. At TWD 180 (about SGD 7) for the small bowl, I would rather go back to 老王記牛肉麵大王.

How to go: 105 Aiguo East Road. At Dongmen MRT, exit from Exit 4 and walk straight along Lishui Street. When you reach the junction where Lishui Street meets Aiguo East Road, you will see the restaurant on your right hand side.

Yong Kang Beef Noodles

Google search led us to 永康牛肉麵館 Yong Kang Beef Noodles. Despite the online raves, we felt that the clear broth and spicy broth were not as as 老王記牛肉麵大王, but the side dishes were quite good. We tried the century egg with tofu (can't resist) and stir fried beef tendons (i'm not a fan of tendon but this is good). Also at TWD 180 (about SGD 7), Restaurant opens 11am to 9.30pm

How to go: 171 Jinshan South Road, Lane 31 Section 2. At Dongmen MRT, exit from Exit 4 and walk straight along Lishui Street. When you reach a primary school, turn right on the lane in front of the primary school. When you reach the junction where Lishui Street meets Aiguo East Road, you will see the eatery on your right hand side.

Lin Family Herbal Beef Noodles

I discovered 林家藥燉原汁牛肉麵 when watching 食尚玩家 Supertaste for recommended eats. The unique selling point of Lin Family's beef noodles is its herbal broth. 

As it was a distance from Xinyi MRT Station, my ex-colleague C was nice to guide and walk with me there. We took about 20 minutes in the dark evening and past by many mechanic shops. 'This better be good' I thought. However it did not live up to our expectations. 

The herbal broth was weak and diluted. Both of us had expected a stronger herbal taste. The beef chunks were overcooked and tough. I felt that this bowl of overcooked beef noodles pales in comparison to our local bak ku teh herbal version

If you prefer a light herbal taste, you can try the eatery at 9 Wuxing Street, Lane 281, open 11am to 1pm. 

This October!

I am on the verge of giving up exploring new beef noodles shop, but C say that I have to try 穆記. While researching for our upcoming trip this October, I also found a few reviews recommending 林東芳, seems like a must-try too. Ok, so here goes the 5 Taiwanese beef noodle places we will be hitting next month !

林東芳牛肉麵 Lin Dong Fang
台北市八德路二段274號, near Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station (5-10 min walk)
Open Monday - Saturday 11:00am – 3:00 am

穆記牛肉小吃店 Mu Ji
239 Wuxing Street, quite a walking distance from Taipei 101 MRT Station
Open 11am to 9pm, close on Thursdays

七十二牛肉麵 72 Beef Noodles
台北市中正區濟南路二段71號, near Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station (5-10 min wakl)
Open Tue – Fri 11:00 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Close on Monday)

牛店 Niu Dian
台北市萬華區昆明街91號, near Ximen MRT Station
Close on Monday

18 Café
安和路一段55號一樓, nearest Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station (15-20 mins walk)
Open daily 11.30am to midnight
TWD 260 Championship Beef Noodles, generous portions, juicy chunks of daikon and diced tomatoes 

Side Review on Beef Jerky

It is difficult to pen a post on Taiwanese beef noodles without salivating... and hence now nibbling on a pack of 良金牧场高粱牛肉干 Liang Jin Farm Kinmen Kaoliang Beef Jerky

Of the Taiwanese beef jerky brands we have tried, Liang Jin remains my favourite for its tenderness and juiciness. The brand is readily available in the airport duty free goods section, as well as now in Carrefour Guilin (10 mins walking distance from Ximen MRT Exit 1, 24 hours supermarket - woohoo!). 

Andy's fave is 新東陽 Hsin Tung Yang's fruit flavored beef jerky. I don't like that as much since I prefer beef jerky in tear-able slices rather than mushy bits. Hsin Tung Yang beef jerky also comes in various flavors such as pineapple and red wine. You can find their shop when you exit from Dongmen MRT Station towards Yongkang Street.

Can't wait for my next trip to Taipei :)