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Beef Noodle @ "Taoyuan Street Beef Noodle" | by yusheng
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Beef Noodle @ "Taoyuan Street Beef Noodle"

NT$150/US$4.66. The name of the shop is in quotes because the shop doesn't actually have any signage. It's just known as the beef noodle shop on Taoyuan Street. It's a run-down shack packed with people in the middle of the block, you can't miss it.


This is one of the most well known of Taipei beef noodles. I haven't been there in years and on account of it being mentioned in the NY Times travel piece on eating in Taipei ("Feasting at the Table of Taipei"), I decided to go back for a taste.[1]


I remember it being okay and it was that: okay. Nothing particularly wrong with it, but it was exceedingly boring. The neither-thick-nor-thin machine noodles were boring. Give me thick or, even better, give me thin, but I really hate these boring narrow flat noodles. And the neither-too-soy-saucy (which would be bad) nor-too-beefy (which would be good) nor-too-anything (which could be interesting) soup was boring. All the flavors that should be present are present, but in a way that doesn't titillate my palate. Very textbook Taiwanese beef noodle broth that does not offend, but excites no senses.


The beef was very tender, though.


桃源街牛肉麵 / Táoyuánjiē Niúròumiàn


No.15, Taoyuan St. (where is shop is located)


No.9, Lane 11, Taoyuan St. (this is where the entrance is located, which is just around the corner from the other address)




Incidentally, I've always wondered about the quality of NYT's Travel section pieces when it comes to food. NYT's Dining section does a very good job covering New York's restaurants, but what about outside of NY?


I thought that the article was decent, despite the author's hyperbole in describing several of the places. I've been to all the places he mentioned (except for that fancy-pants nouveau Taiwanese cuisine place C'est Bon which I have my doubts about but which I'll go investigate sometime) and they are all well-known and well-liked. Of course, being well-known and well-liked does not necessarily mean good eats, but mostly he guides the reader to decent joints. Even this beef noodle place will serve as a passable introduction to Taiwanese beef noodles if you have never had one. Like I said, it's boring, but very textbook.


Anyway, you would get a decent sampling of what Taiwanese cuisine is about if you come to Taipei and eat nothing but what he recommends.


Obviously this is one correspondent covering one city and it's an awful tiny sampling but this article does closely reflect my own experiences with NYT Travel food pieces. The places they recommend are mostly decent and often well-known locally, but they're usually not as good as the writer's typically breathless descriptions. They are either easily impressed or maybe they are asked to rave about the foods in foreign lands because that makes better reading.


Anyway, the best meals I've had while traveling are often found from discussions online by foodies who actually live there (even then, it's hit-and-miss... food is just so subjective).


[1] NYTimes listed this place as Old Wang and I searched online and I guess that's what this shop used to call itself until the owner took down the signs and decided to go name-less. In any case, I don't think anybody would know what you're talking about if you said you wanted Old Wang, better to stick with saying Taoyuan Street beef noodle (in Chinese of course, saying anything in English in Taipei will get you nowhere).

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Taken on October 3, 2008