Eating Niu rou mein in Taipei

Eating Niu rou mein in Taipei

Visiting the mothership for the first time in nearly twenty years felt more emotional towards the end than in the beginning. At the start, there was just the concern about the typhoon that was about to blast the east coast of Taiwan in mid-July. The thing about Taiwan is that they get typhoons all the time and it’s no big deal to them. The typhoon was set to arrive a few hours after our plane touched down, and actually the government told schools and businesses to go home early at 3pm that Friday. We had some dinner while the wind speeds were picking up, and throughout the night the island got battered with typhoon Soulik. In the morning, my uncle took Steph and me to eat some niu rou mein, or beef noodle soup.

Most things weren’t even open that Saturday morning, because people were mostly holed up at home. But the niu rou mein place that my uncle took us to had a damn line out the door. Boo for queues but good that it was so good people would line up for it. Niu rou mein is probably one of the easiest dish to find in Taipei. So the thing about this place is that the name is only in Chinese, and nothing about the restaurant is in English. Since I’m illiterate, I just took a picture of the sign. If you are literate, you can go google this place in Chinese. I don’t even know where it is…

The menu was in Chinese which meant I couldn’t read it except for the part that said, ‘cow’. I’m getting better at reading menus though. I can recognize the word cow in four different languages now! Too bad I dunno the words that surround the word ‘cow’. I just like that one word. Very useful. Anyway, the beef noodle comes in different sizes, and I went for a medium because while seeing family you haven’t seen in two decades, it’s not smart to stuff your face in one sitting.

My uncle ordered some appetizer or small share plates for us. We had some boiled fried tofu. I think that’s tofu that was deep fried and then sometimes people use it for hot pot or whatever. But you can just boil/steam a whole batch. That was good. We had some chilled pig ears! Sliced thinly, these sucks are great. And then some dried tofu that was stewed. These are a good example of things I enjoy eating, but since they aren’t entree dishes, they don’t stick out in my mind as much. I’m still grateful to eat them though.

My aunt and uncle had asked me what I wanted to do in Taipei and I just listed food items for them and Taipei 101. That’s a winning strategy for vacation. Go see a tall building, go, “Ooooooh… ahhhhhhh” and then stuff your face with shit you remember from childhood. Cool kids like to say profit. But this is so profit, it’s dolling out dividends. Bitches. Awesome. It was great to have some bites while we waited for the niu rou mein, even though the wait was like five minutes.

Right before the main event came out, we got acquainted with some wontons in chili oil. These were great. I grew up on pork only wontons. The shrimp varietal that was more popular in Hong Kong was more fancy. But this dish was old school and delicious. I could have eaten whole bowls of this.

Aaaaand then we come to the niu rou mein. This was the beef noodle soup of my dreams. I can’t definitely say this was one of the best in Taipei, but fuck I loved it. That’s the thing about beef noodle soup in Taipei… I’m certain there are lots and lots of places serving amazing versions of that. I think if you go to any place that’s recommended by a local, you almost certainly cannot go wrong. Both the complexity of the broth and the doneness of the noodles were on point.

After finishing the noodles, we went for a stroll through Danshui. But man, I crave niu rou mein that good in New York. It just doesn’t exist. Noodles at Super Taste or at Sheng Wang are OK, but it’s really a completely different dish with different flavor profiles. If I want beef noodles in New York, it has to be Excellent Pork Chop House, but it’s still not the same. The mothership is just too good at niu rou mein.

Posted by Danny on October 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm

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