Here’s a secret. Up until recently, I thought Taiwanese Beef Noodles were overrated. *GASP*. Yes, it’s true.
Let’s go back a bit: Beef Noodle Soup is one of the National Dishes of Taiwan. In fact, it has it’s own wikipedia entry:
Beef noodle soup is a Chinese and Taiwanese noodle soup made of stewed or red braised beef, beef broth, vegetables and Chinese noodles. It exists in various forms throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. Stewed beef noodle soup was first created by the Hui people (a Chinese Muslim ethnic group) during the Tang Dynasty of China. The red braised beef noodle soup was invented by the veterans in Kaoshiung, Taiwan who fled from mainland China during the Chinese civil war.
Here’s the wiki link
With all of the times I had been to Taiwan plus additionally all of the Taiwan eateries in Shanghai, I’d eaten beef noodle soup dozens of times. And I always thought “huh, it’s ok . . .but national dish? It’s no Hainan Chicken Rice”
Turns out, my issue was not getting it from a really good place.
Seeking to solve that, I went to Taipei’s famous Lin Dong Fong located on Bade Road. It was so popular that even in the rain, all three sections of the restaurant were full and there was a line. I got seated in the spill over section pretty quickly though, as the line moved really quickly.
Lin Dong Fong Beef Noodle Soup
Here’s the famous wheat gluten (not for gluten free diets!)
And then the main event – the beef noodle soup! I ordered the half tendon, half beef. And it was in this bowl that I really discovered the true meaning of the national dish.
The beef was tender and flavorful. The tendon chewy, but also soft and buttery. The “beef butter” – a homemade spread of stuff that I’m going to assume is bad for you is at each table to add a bit of umami to each bowl. The clear broth was full of depth and the beef was spicy enough to have flavor, but not be overwhelmed. It didn’t taste overwhelmingly of baking soda (used as tenderizer) nor was the beef chewy and tough like many of the other beef noodle places I’ve been. And the noodles were a star. One of the key issues with food in China is that I don’t think that restaurants pay enough attention to the noodles. Here, however, they were obviously crafted with care – they tasted handmade with enough springyness and bite to be interesting.
Apparently Lin Dong Fang stays open really late – my colleague mentioned that its often a post clubbing stop for people till 4 or 5 am!
So I amend my opinion, most bowls of beef noodles are not that interesting, but if you can find one like the one they serve at Lin Dong Fang, it would be in your interest to sit down for a bowl.
Address: No. 274, Sec 2. Bade Road, Taipei