Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yong Kang Beef Noodles (永康牛肉麵)

Let me preface this post by saying, I'm really backlogged in terms of what I've eaten, since... well... I've pretty much been eating nonstop since I got off the plane. So here goes.

Let's be honest, of course the first thing I'd want to eat after getting off a plane is beef noodles. I didn't really want to cook, didn't have the ingredients, and to be perfectly honest, I was scared to death that I'd come face to face with a giant flying cockroach as soon as I opened the pantry doors. So I went out in search of a good meal. I know the area around my grandmother's house pretty well, and 永康街 (Yong Kang Street) is always a good place to go find food. It's located right off 信義 (Xin Yi) and about a 10 minute walk from my house. The plane landed around 6, so there was obviously nothing open yet. I walked around the area, still kind of in a daze, when I remembered there was a really famous beef noodle place (the one I'm reviewing now) that opens around 11 am.

永康牛肉麵 is actually not located on the street of its namesake, but an alleyway parallel to it. It would be pretty hard to find otherwise and since most of you can't go, I won't bother with directions (though if you do find yourself in Taipei and want to know, just ask). It's located right next to another beef noodle place, both of which have signs saying they've won the beef noodle soup contest in the past... yes this is a real and yearly event, one that means quite a bit to me haha. Anyway, it has a real homely feel, with a red brick exterior and a giant sign above, proudly stating their namesake dish. Again, there would be no reason anyone would think to walk in... aside from the massive crowds that gather during lunchtime (think... standing and waiting 15 minutes for a table... then having to share a table with complete strangers). From that description, you'd probably assume it's a small shacklike place, but really, it has 2 floors of probably 10+ tables that all seat 4, so it fills up because it's popular, not because it's dingy.

With regards to the food, I can't comment on most of the dishes since I really only hold them accountable for their namesake, and well... they do good by me. The prices range from some 40 NT ($1+) to around 180 NT ($5+) with the beef noodles being 140 NT for a 'small bowl.' While this is kind of expensive (yes that counts as expensive in Taiwan), the small bowl will definitely suffice for an average person... hell, it even filled me up. I've never seen the large bowl, but I respect anyone who eats that on a daily basis lol. Oh yeah, back to the food. Noodles were... surprisingly disappointing. They were of the prepackaged variety, and it seemed like an afterthought considering the restaurant's specialty. The soup and beef though, were out of this world (consider the fact that I'd probably rank this in my top 3 despite a mediocre noodle selection). The beef was part tendon part beef, and was cooked in the broth for several days I would guess. It literally fell apart when you squeezed too hard with the chopsticks, and the broth was a nice delicate balance of spicy with a strong beefy taste. Clearly years of practice had been put into their house technique (they've been around since the 60's another sign had proclaimed). What made this perfect though was their 酸菜 (pickled vegetables). Upon addition to the soup, it was pretty much another level of amazing. While it's difficult to describe, the slightly sour, spicy, and beefy flavors worked together amazingly well. After about 15 minutes, my bowl was empty, my stomach was satisfied, and I left as a stream of customers began storming in.

I don't think I even need to say I would recommend this place. I should add that 蘭州 (lan zhou), sheng wang, and super taste all could learn a thing or two.

As far as my running counter... 0.00 miles today, I wanted to get more eating done haha. I realize the dating is confusing, since I actually ate here on Friday...

distance for the day: 0.00 miles
distance biked for the day: 0.00 miles

distance on the year: 261.11 miles
distance biked on the year: 142.68 miles


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