July 4, 2018 § Leave a comment
I fell in love with Taiwan and vowed to return and explore the other parts of the island. Well, it took us seven years (unbelievable but true), this time with parents in tow. And so we didn’t venture too far away from Taipei.
Fushan Temple in Jiufen
Honeycomb rocks in Yehliu
The itinerary was loose and relaxed with only 1 full day outside the capital. A family of foodies, the natural thing to do as soon as we landed was to enjoy a bowl of Beef Noodle Soup, Taiwan’s pride. While there are several recommended spots for this, we chose Yonkang Beef Noodle.
Founded in 1963, this small family run, 2-level restaurant serves up signature beef noodle and tendon soup.
It’s Sichuan style hot and spicy soup with huge chunks of tender Australian beef – cooked to perfection and best with a bit of their fantastic chili paste.
Besides having a large variety of side dishes, the restaurant also serves steamed spare ribs and steamed intestines – something to try next time.
We walked off that fantastic noodle soup in Yongkang Street, Taiwan’s cuisine mecca. It is not a very long street, but one can spend an hour or two just browsing. Not to be missed when visiting Taipei.
Initially owning fame for its traditional cuisines such as Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao, Yongkang Street and its neighboring lanes and alleys are now dotted with old-school eateries, coffee shops and dessert shops, clothing and souvenir shops, tea shops and some quirky cafes.
And speaking of xiao long bao, we found another gem just around the corner from Din Tai Fung serving a similar menu but is far less crowded. Perpetually overshadowed by its heavyweight competitor, Kao Chi has been serving Shanghainese dishes since 1949, about 8 years earlier than Din Tai Fung. The 3-story flagship store is quiet, though somewhat a favorite among the affluent locals. Signature dishes include their Shen Jian Bao – pan-fried pork buns, Xiao Long Bao (of course) – Steamed Pork Dumplings, and Steamed Crab Egg and Pork Dumplings, among a wide array of dishes on the menu.
Still full from the massive bowl of Beef Noodle Soup, we opted for an order of Xiao Long Bao, not knowing then about the pan-fried pork buns (later on recommended by a local friend). I find that the XLB was equally good, and we didn’t have to wait in line for it. Another option to keep in mind for XLB fans.
Tu Hsiao Yueh
Another noteworthy restaurant not to miss is Tu Hsiao Yueh. Highly recommended by a Taiwanese friend, we didn’t waste time to go check it out. Established in Tainan in 1895 with an interesting story to boot. The name means “survive a month” or “living through the bad months” referring to the hardship endured by the fishermen in Tainan. In those months, a fisherman named Hung would go to town and sell Dan Tzai noodles in front of the local temple to make ends meet.
Fast forward to present day, Tu Hsiao Yueh has evolved into a modern restaurant chain serving traditional Taiwanese fare and still specializing in the same noodles that is now a Taiwan staple.
The signature dish is a small bowl of noodles topped with minced meat, dried shrimps, and black vinegar. One can choose between egg noodles, rice vermicelli or bihon, or flat noodles, and if you want it with or without soup. We decided on the dry bihon just because I love bihon that way. I was pleased with our choice, but I heard that the soup was exceptional and elevated the dish. That gives me another reason to go back.
Fried Oysters, Stir-fried Tomiao, Minced beef topped rice (reminds of my youth…)
Fried oysters with white pepper and salt on the side was another remarkable dish that we enjoyed so much that we placed a second order – A definite must try!
We followed it up with a bowl of Bubble Milk Tea Sensation – shaved ice dessert likewise made famous by the Taiwanese. Ah… another must.
Yongkang Beef Noodle: No. 17, Lane 31, Section 2, Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Kao Chi Branches:
No. 1, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City
No. 150號, Section 1, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District
Tu Hsiao Yueh branches:
No. 9-1, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City
No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City
Ice Monster Zhongxiao Flagship branch: No.297, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei