It’s obvious – a bowl of beef noodles is the best way to dive into the Taipei experience. Here are seven bowls to get you started.
Niu Dian (牛店精燉牛肉麵)
If the massive horn sculpture that hangs off the wall is any indication, Niu Dian takes its cattle seriously: the ample slices of beef and succulent tendon that fill the bowls of beef noodle soup served here are certainly delicious. The broth is fragrant without being heavy, the udon-style noodles springy without being tough. Whereas some beef noodle places offer heavily seasoned chili oil on the side, this shop’s specialty bone marrow oil is milder, so feel free to add generously to the soup.
Niu Dian takes its spiciness more seriously than other establishments, so consider ordering one notch milder than your usual preference.
Add: 91 Kunming Street, Wanhua District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 2389 5577
Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodle (老王記牛肉麵)
This is beef noodle soup at its most traditional: chunks of meat and noodles in a bare-bones broth that tastes predominantly of soy sauce. The beef runs dry and the soup is salty, which means you’ll be reaching for water several times throughout the meal. It’s not a gourmet experience by any means, but if you’re looking for a filling meal, Lao Wang Ji certainly gets the job done.
Add: 15 Taoyuan Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 3786 0050
Yong Kang Beef Noodle (永康牛肉麵館)
Arguably the best known of the establishments on this list, Yong Kang Beef Noodle also suffers from having the most-imitated name; here, we’re talking about the classic restaurant that sits just two blocks from Dongmen Station. The beef noodle soup comes in a dark broth that is surprisingly balanced for its color; the large chunks of meat and tendon are tender. Disappointing, however, are the noodles: thin and tough at the core, they feel undercooked.
If you’re looking for dessert after your meal, don’t fall for the tourist-trap shaved ice monoliths that line the north end of Yongkang Street; satisfy your sweet tooth at one of the indie coffeeshops tucked away in the alleys.
Add: 17 Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 2351 1051
Lao Zhang Beef Noodle (老張牛肉麵)
At Lao Zhang Beef Noodles, it’s really the beef that ought to star in the dish. The hefty chunks of tender meat are unfortunately overpowered by the soup base, which feels cloying after a few sips. The noodles are solid, if not particularly remarkable.
Go for the clear broth instead; it sidesteps the heaviness of the spicy option and allows the natural flavors of the beef to shine.
Add: No.105 Aiguo East Road, Da’an District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 2396 0927
Lin Dong Fang (林東芳牛肉麵)
The slices of beef at this old-school establishment stand out for the intensity of their meaty flavor. On the other hand, the broth can be somewhat bland, which is why Lin Dong Fang’s concentrated chili oil is a necessity: a little goes a long way in adding much-needed spice to the dish.
Add: 274 Bade Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 2752 2556
Zhen Shan Mei (真善美牛肉麵)
Beef noodle soup at Zhen Shan Mei is unfortunately marred by a few flaws: pickled cabbage devoid of any flavor and a broth so oily that you can feel a film coat the roof of your mouth. The beef, though tender, is also dry. The thick noodles and soft tendon would stand fine on their own, but they can’t quite compensate for the other parts of the dish.
Surprisingly, the luwei (braised food) here is quite good.
Add: 47 Anju Street, Da’an District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 2377 8866
Tian Xia San Jue (天下三絕)
With an extensive menu that highlights the provenance of its beef, Tian Xia San Jue positions itself as a restaurant for connoisseurs—and at 350NT for a half meat-half tendon bowl, you’re certainly paying for the bragging rights. A healthy sprinkling of scallions and your choice of thin or thick noodles (both well-textured) accompany tender beef and tendon, the latter with a remarkably pronounced star anise flavor. Sodium lovers should be aware that the broth is rather light; it’s clean and refined, but it may not offer the rich taste you’re looking for.
The mirror-studded décor is a bit gauche, but if you’re looking for a beef noodle place to impress a date, this is one of your best bets.
Add: 3 Ren’ai Road, Da’an District, Taipei
Phone: 00886 27416299