Taiwan Beef Noodle House

March 26th, 2006 · 5 Comments

taiwanTaiwan Beef Noodle House (Wang ji Taiwan niurou mian guan)
Address: 8390 Granville Street (Just north of 70th)
Tel: 604-266-7966

Taiwanese Treats Around the Clock

By Desmond Cheung
Eat Vancouver Columnist
Sunday, March 26th, 2006

** (of four stars)

Do you ever wake up thinking about a dish that you used to enjoy but haven’t tasted for some time? It might not quite be a sudden craving fulfilled but I was happy to hear from a Canadian-Taiwanese friend that quality Taiwanese beef noodles can be found in Vancouver. Not having slurped any since I left Taiwan almost five years ago, I fancied checking the place out.

Noodlers might aliken Taiwanese beef noodles to Vietnamese pho. There is good reason for it: both should be tender cuts of beef with noodles in an affectionately flavoured broth. But while there seems to be a standard version of pho – variations of brisket, ribs, tripe aside – two years’ of noodling in Taipei didn’t convince me of a comparable classic. So I was curious to see what Vancouver’s top Taiwanese beef noodle house had to offer.

noodlesMost important on a noodle restaurant’s menu are, of course, the noodles (all around the $6-dollar range depending on noodle dish and size). In this category Taiwan Beef Noodle House offers about a dozen choices. If it’s your first time, then you should go for the specials – usually the items at the top of the list. So here it was a straightforward but tasty Taiwan Beef Noodles (niu rou mian) and its spicy version (ma la niu rou mian). Both were slurpingly tasty bowls of tender brisket with noodles cooked just right in flavourful broths. The classic came with a pickled cabbage garnish whose contrasting texture and taste greatly enhanced the dish. The spicy noodles were certainly spicy – so much so that they even saw your Eat Vancouver editor mopping his brow – but in a delicately bud-stimulating way. Other wholesome bowls include noodles with wonton (spicy and non-), noodles in dark sauce (zha jiang mian), hot and sour noodles (suan la mian), and noodles with pickled vegetables and shredded pork (zha cai rousi mian). For all there is a choice of noodles which, though not as extensive as at Shalin Noodle House, is a welcome range for the texturally discerning and includes thick noodles (recommended as the original thing), vermicelli, and thin noodles.

Noodle-lovers will probably agree that although noodles make a fantastic meal by themselves (think of the pleasure in caressing steaming noodles � la Tampopo), a few snacky dishes on the side always add to the meal. In Taiwan, these typically come as small plates of cold tid-bits. Many of these are marinated (lu) meat selections from cuts of beef to pig’s ears to tripe. Also included are preserved eggs, laces of seaweed (hai dai), dried tofu slices (doufu gan), and cucumbers in chilli oil (liang ban huang gua). Taiwan Beef Noodle House offers all of these and they do them well. (Notably absent from the menu was congealed pig’s blood ‘cake’/ zhuxue gao but that’s not something I especially miss, no matter how many peanuts and chili oil are added.)

coldstuffAdditional accompaniments to a hearty bowl of noodles, though perhaps more generically Chinese than particularly Taiwanese, include various kinds of dumplings (Shanghai steamed dumplings/ xiaolong bao, boiled dumplings, and potstickers – most of which can be bought to take out in their frozen forms for the very reasonable price of 50 dumplings for $9), onion pancakes, and fried steamed rolls. A recommended favourite is the wontons in chilli oil (hong you chao shou) – a deceptively simple but wonderful little dish of wontons sitting in a balanced blend of chilli oil, sesame oil, and vinegar.

For drinks you get the typical complimentary tea (but served cold and too infrequently poured when we visited) and bubble tea (which is not on the menu but you can spot the boxes of fresh fruit and cup-sealing machine ready for action).

wontonsWhat else? This restaurant has been open for over ten years and its popularity with appreciative customers assures me why. For inexpensive Chinese restaurants (you’re looking at less than $15 per head with a generous tip) the place is surprisingly sparkling with its faux-pine walls and cash-desk, black ‘granite’ tables, almost-trendy metal framed black leather chairs, and automated washroom. The gaffer (presumably Mr. Wang, since the restaurant’s name in Chinese means “Wang’s Taiwan Beef Noodle Restaurant”?) is from Taiwan and has done a great job of bringing one of the best parts of altogether unremarkable Taiwanese cuisine to Vancouver. For what it’s worth, Taiwan Beef Noodle House definitely garners a nod from this reviewer – and it’s not just nostalgic yearning for culinary memories.

[editorial note: I wanted to name this Beef Noodle is the New Pho, but was overruled.]

Desmond Cheung is a PhD student in the field of Chinese History at UBC. He enjoys the finer things in life.

Taiwan Beef Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Tags: Chinese

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael Chin // Mar 31, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Is that last picture the wontons in hot chili oil? It looks gooooood.

  • 2 Jason // Apr 1, 2006 at 12:14 am

    It is, and it is. The wontons were easily my very favorite dish of the evening. The skins are perfectly tender, not overcooked, and they sat in this extremely flavorful little sauce that was a little sour and a little spicy – my two favorite tastes. I could eat 20 bowls of this stuff, and if that sounds like a challenge, it is.

  • 3 Desmond Cheung // Apr 4, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    The experiential and geneological implications of the editor’s alternative title for this review are, unfortunately, unacceptable to the author.

  • 4 Eat Vancouver » Farewell Des // Feb 12, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    […] South of the Lake, North of the River Taiwanese Treats Around the Clock Nu’s Worth Jazz Brunch […]

  • 5 gale // May 25, 2009 at 2:42 am

    This is real comfort food. Nothing is better then the deep fried pork chop and the marinated tripe.yummy.oh ya and of course the soup.

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