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Oct 31, 2007 08:08 AM

Taiwanese and Thai beef stew noodles in the East Bay?

Thanks, twocents. Kim Huong's next on the list.
I was actually thinking about how much it resembled Taiwanese spicy beef noodles... maybe that's why I find it so much more satisfying than standard pho. What are your East Bay recs for Taiwanese (and while we're at it, Thai) beef stew noodles? The only Taiwanese ones I've had in the East Bay were at Spices 3, which were ok the first two times, but way too salty the last time. Really, they just made me miss the ones at A&J in Cupertino, with the thick, chewy noodles.

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  1. are you taiwanese?

    i am, and i've been very disappointed with what's offered in the city since i moved here. i've yet to venture out of the city for taiwanese. but if you or anybody can direct me to some of the best of SF/bay area...that would be greatly appreciated! please help!

    6 Replies
    1. re: inmandarin

      Since you're in the City, maybe you'd be interested in checking out Sweet Delite on Clement? It's a favorite for boba, but we've not heard much about the Taiwanese noodles, etc.

      Sweet Delite Gourmet Foods Co
      519 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        i'll certainly check it out when i'm in the area. i'm intrigued by the mention of "snacks" in your previous thread; as the taiwanese are best categorized for their street snacks (xiao3 ci1). even at dinner, you'd find a display of multiple small dishes.

        thanks for the tip!

        1. re: inmandarin

          Don't thank me yet until you try it! It's just a small cafe (tea, gelato, candy), so the offering of savory snacks is intriguing. The tea eggs seem to be popular, but no idea about the other things. Do call ahead to check on availability, as was suggested on the posted menu.

      2. re: inmandarin

        Hey, I just realized you're the one who started my favorite "where to eat in SF" thread:

        Where did you end up going? (That should be a separate thread, though, or appended to the original).

        I'm not Taiwanese enough to appreciate the ooey gooeyness that seems so prized - here's my report from 168 Restaurant in Richmond. Have you had a chance to try it yet? I'd like to see a report from someone who's more familiar with Taiwanese food than I am.

        1. re: daveena

          hey, yes that was me! :)

          i've been meaning to do write up a response thread for that trip, but i never got around to it. it's long overdue. thanks for the reminder though.

          very interesting thread on 168! i'll certainly make my way out there and let you know how it is. thanks again!

        2. re: inmandarin

          I, too, have been disappointed with the options in the city. The best I've had by far has been Joy down in Foster City, particularly for their beef noodle soup.

          (sorry not east bay, but was in response to inmandarin)

        3. For Taiwanese, Spices 3 is my favorite in the East Bay... but I agree it isn't perfect. I've never had it too salty, but I wish there was more meat and less soup, and that they would take off enough of the saturated fat so that it wouldn't form a full on slick. I like that it's reasonably spicy, and that they serve it with mustard pickle. I actually like the pork chop noodle there better, but it is pretty uneven, both in broth seasoning and pork chop quality.

          168 at Richmond 99 has an ok version, but it is a non-spicy one and not my favorite style. Dark broth, spinach or ong choy as the vegetable.

          I usually make it myself at home, but I haven't in a while because I don't cook much anymore.

          Mostly I eat Thai beef/boat noodle. I like Ruen Pair (spicy, traditional boat) and Sa Wooei (sweet, very rich broth w/ good beef mix (ball, steak, stew and perks up well with chili sauce and vinegar peppers). Also Champa Garden has a version that is v. salty and not spicy but agressively thickened with the traditional agent. Usually ong choy as the vegetable.

          Actually I have not been eating out too much lately, but these three were all amongst my favorite meals for the first half of the year. Include the Kim Huong bo kho and especially the Kang Nam bo kho, and yes indeed I am crazy for beef noodle soup.

          2 Replies
          1. re: twocents

            I had a really nice boat noodle the other day at Ruen Pair... l should add that it seems to me to change in overall balance/composition if you order mild instead of medium. I would avoid spicy here unless you are known to push limits in this regard. The broth this week was dark, rich and perfectly balanced in hot/sour/salty/sweet. I also got the pork version this time; I am not sure if that made a difference. Possibly not, since I think only the meats are changed and not the soup itself.

            Also, link to earlier thread:

            1. re: twocents

              i've tried spices 1 in the richmond and wasn't impressed at all. i had chou doufu (stinky tofu), niuro bing (beef in an onion pancake of sorts), and doumiao cing cai (just a side of light greens), and it didn't really do much for me. it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good either. just okay. i noticed that a lot of the dishes on the menu were an assortment of mainland chinese food (which is fine for a taiwanese restaurant). but that didn't appeal to me at all. perhaps i'm being a stickler, but i'd give spices 1 a thumbs down. i've yet to try spices 2 and 3.

              thanks for the insight.

            2. little off the subject. but are there any good taiwanese or szechuzn restaurants that's in sf (sorry am from out of town so apology if not calling area by the correct name) vs richmond, albany? won't have access to a car so won't be able to try the restaurants that have been mentioned before.

              actually heard friend mentioned there is a new chinatown. where is that as we would like to try that out if possible?


              1. add link

                Ruen Pair
                1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                Sa Wooei
                10621 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

                8 Replies
                1. re: twocents

                  The BEST Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup I've found is at the oddest place. It's called Wuling Karoke and it's in El Cerrito on San Pablo. Not sure the address but it's by Moeser. This is the tackiest place ever, my parents have been going for years, and the door is locked for the public. But you can knock to get in. Anyway, I've been a few times with my parents over the years and they have the BEST beef noodle soup ever. It's completely authentic and most of the clientele is from Taiwan, as well as the owners. But you just have to put up with the karoke, if you're into that...

                  1. re: calalilly

                    Thanks for the tip - do they do knife-cut noodles? Can you compare it to A&J or ASJ in the South Bay?

                    1. re: daveena

                      I just called my mom to ask since she goes every weekend for karoke. She said they are actually in the process of remodeling right now and will be open for lunch and dinner soon and only karaoke after like 9 or something. Great news for people like me who love the food but can do without the singing (though my mom says they get a big crowd for singing.)

                      As for the knife-cut noodles, I've had it twice and it's delicious, but it's not always available. I haven't been to A&J or ASJ, but the noodles here are way better and more consistent than Spices.

                      1. re: calalilly

                        I will add my thanks for the tip. I will keep an eye out, as I am often at Sa wooei for lunch. It would be great to have a great Taiwanese BNS as an option. It's actually about a block south of Sa Wooei.

                        1. re: twocents

                          I tried to go today and they're still remodeling, but said they'd be open May 9th.

                          1. re: daveena

                            Wuling looks like they're open today, 9/23/2008. There is a Grand Re-opening banner, the door was open at lunchtime this sunny day, and they even have an LED "Open" sign now. I drive by this place a fair amount at lunch and it never looked very inviting. So may have to try it soon.

                            1. re: twocents


                              10561 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

                  2. Boat Noodle House, Berkeley. Shattuck just south of University.

                    I stopped in here relatively late one evening last month and had a pretty good Thai Boat Noodle. This is probably the version most heavily thickened with blood that I have had locally. Champa Garden would be the second. The broth here is not too salty, like Champa's and has a lot of flavor. It is not as good as Ruen Pair's but better than Champa's, and punches up nicely with pepper vinegar and chili sauce. The meat here seems to be soy stewed beef, and tastes fairly strongly of soy, a minus. Also I didn't care for the use of baby bok choy instead of darker greens. Nevertheless, the soup was good enough to warrant a revisit, and to compare to the nearby Thai Noodle's version, which has always been solid.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: twocents

                      I had a bowl at Boat Noodle last month as well. I thought the bigger chunks of beef were nice and tender, but I tasted a 5-spice seasoning rather than soy. Also, in addition to bok choy, my soup included chinese broccoli and spinach. I like that the broth had a lot going on, slightly sweet as well as tart from the blood. It was my first bowl of boat noodle however, so I have nothing to compare to.

                      What noodles do you usually order with the soup? I had vermicelli here and they were of the thinner variety, so they didn't hold up well with the stew.

                      1. re: DezzerSF

                        I prefer rice stick noodles (aka thin rice noodles) for boat noodles. These are the noodles commonly used in pad thai, like pho noodles. Second most common is wide flat noodles, like ho fun. Vermicelli to me is the thin round rice noodles, like in bun. Is that what you had? I agree I would think that they would be too soft. My beef was not as tender. There was indeed five spice, but mainly soy. Contrast it with the tender slices at Ruen Pair or the delicious, soft tender braise of various bits in Sa Wooei's beef noodle soup (not a boat style noodle) and it suffered significantly in comparison.

                        1. re: twocents

                          Yes, thin like bun noodles. I had beef slices as well as beef chunks, the former weren't as tender. I'll have to try Ruen Pair & Sa Wooei's versions when the weather cools.