Two famous beef noodle soup restaurants are located around the corner from Din Tai Fung, but everybody knows about them. VG Gallery Studio Cafe co-owner Eric Huang directed me to a viable alternative around the corner from his coffeehouse, Xi Le Man Zu Noodle House (喜樂滿足麵食館), which delivered a definitive version of niu rou mian, Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
This side street restaurant invites guests to “cherish happiness” and has thrived since 1955. At the most recent Taipei International Beef Noodle Soup Festival, they placed in the Top 10, which makes them some of the foremost NRM practitioners on the planet.
Every NRM specialist employs a unique bag of mystery spices to flavor their broth.
At Xi Le Man Zu Noodle House, specify whether you want beef, tendon, or a mix, and the quantity of noodles, depending on how hungry you are. Then find a seat in their air conditioned, fanned dining hall, which houses small wood tables and benches.
This was seriously great soup, with medicinal undertones, spicy tang, and tender, broth-infused noodles which were QQ, just short of al dente. Pieces of collagen rich tendon, some slippery and others meltingly tender, joined tender chunks of beef and scallions in chile flecked broth. Flavor built to lip smacking, tongue tingling levels with each bite.
To drink, they gave me a cup of jelly tea, filled with brown cubes that was awkward to “drink,” and not very refreshing, but it was a thoughtful gesture.
All trip, I was waiting for a definitive bowl of niu rou mian, and Xi Le Man Zu Noodle House delivered just that on my last day in Taiwan. It’s clear that they live by the three keywords they preach: Intention Persist Delicious.