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Taiwainese Beef Noodles: How to critique & where to go?

Hi All,

I've always been a soup noodle type of person. I love wonton noodle, pho, ramen, etc, but the one type of noodle soup I really haven't gotten into is Tawainese Beef Noodles (TBN). I've had TBN before but have never been impressed by it.

A few weekends ago, my sister and I were in Aberdeen Centre and we needed food. My sister wanted to go to Chef Hung TBN but I wanted to go to Guu. My sister convinced me to give TBN another try as she was convinced I haven't had a decent bowl.

She was right...I was impressed by the TBN I got at Chef Hung. I ordered the Champion Noodle Bowl with regular soup. The beef was tender, I liked the flambed beef strips, the noodles were al dente and stayed al dente throughout my meal and the soup was complex & flavourful.

As a result, I want to try more TBN to expand my soup noodle repertoire. I've done a bit of research and just want some thoughts about some locations I should try out and the criteria I should be judging the bowls on.

It seems Tony's Beef Noodles across from Oakridge Mall and Lao Shan Dong across from Metrotown Mall seem to be good places to go. Are there anymore?

Also in addition to tender beef, al dente noodles & no MSG in the beef soup stock what else should I be looking for in a good TBN.

I'm 100% sure Chef Hung uses Goji berries in his soup stock, is this common?

Lastly am I missing out by not ordering the noodles with a spicy soup? I can't handle spicy food any more and when I try I get bad heartburn for days, so I avoid it.

Thanks in Advance!

-----
Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA

Guu
838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

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  1. One thing... Taiwan beef noodle is mostly branding-- it's not markedly different from a lot of other braised beef noodles in Great China. Braised beef noodles have a long history, but a pretty short history in Taiwan. They're a result of the '45-'49 Mainland-to-Taiwan emigration-- it was homesick food for Mainlanders.

    But... anyways...

    Go to Wáng Gē Niúròumiàn 王哥牛肉面 aka Tony's, across from the Oakridge Mall, at 5754 Cambie. Your choices are málà niúròumiàn 麻辣牛肉面 (the spicy one) hóngshāo niúròumiàn 红烧牛肉面 (regular old braised beef), and thin or thick noodles. I think it's the best in town, as far as Taiwan beef noodles goes. I love this place. Side dishes are dope, too. Conveniently located right by a Skytrain station and right on my way home.

    But...

    I'd also ask you to promise me that you'll go to Huāxī Niúròufěn 花溪牛肉粉 at Crystal Mall. The not-so-spicy version is just as good as the spicy version. It's like your Chef Hung's beef noodle, but with everything turned up a bit. If Chef Hung's noodles are Journey, then Huaxi's noodles are the Dead Kennedys. Just splashier, more fun. Bigger chunks of beef. Lots of neat stuff like sticky tendon. With a pretty, mean girl working the counter. With a cool selection of additives, incl. raw garlic and fennel and chili oil.

    -----
    Crystal Mall
    4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

    18 Replies
    1. re: DylanLK

      Lord help whoever you end up calling the Eagles of TBN.

      1. re: DylanLK

        I think Tony himself opened up another place (not affliated with the Tony's on Cambie) at 67th and Oak Street. The soup base at this newer location, compared to the other Tony's, seem to be clearer and cleaner (more like Chef Hung), not as "thick" as the Tony's on Cambie. The 67th and Oak is a pretty good bowl. I find the Tony's on Cambie punchier and currently prefer it over the other.

        Lao Shan Dong though has a killer broth, although I found when I went there the noodles to soup ratio was a bit off for me: too much noodles. But that might be because I ordered a small bowl instead of the large.

        1. re: _js_

          The new one on Oak is called Taiwan Beef Noodle King.

          (Google Streetview not showing new shop and signage):
          http://maps.google.ca/maps?oe=utf-8&a...

          Not bad at all, I've been there 3 times now, each time the TBN was good. Not salty/MSG-ey neither.

          LSD's broth is saltier but contains more preserved snow cabbage which I like. I like more noodles too. As far as I can tell, their recent offshoot (The One, Kingsway at Buller Ave) TBN tastes the same, as are the dumplings:

          http://theonerestaurant.ca/

          .

          1. re: _js_

            just curious I always was under the impression that Tony(originally across Oakrigde) sold this location than opened the one on Granville which was opened 24hrs for a period. which he sold and I guess now opened on oak and 67th. not sure if my facts are acurate.
            but i do remember the 1st TBN I had at Tony's. So i take it the new owners are doing just as good if not better at the across Oakridge location.

            I also liked the LSD broth. and agree about the noodles. actually i find Chinese food esp in china to be too much starch in general. even in the greater Vancouver. wish they have the option for less noodle more meat option. would take that option nine out of ten times.

            dylan, nice post as ususal.
            fmed, soup nazi.. :-) . I manage to get a smile out of her once. it didnt last long. dont blink, or you'd missed it.

            1. re: betterthanbourdain

              I actually have no clue as to who owned what and where, LOL

              But Wang's Beef Noodle House (Granville/68th) had its original location on Main @ 38th:

              http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&so...

              I ate there three times before they shut down. And it was a REAL hole-in-the-wall !! (where food tastes best)

              1. re: betterthanbourdain

                The 24 hour one on Granville is under new ownership and is really good again. My wife is Taiwanese and the Granville one was a favourite among the ex-pats, it was sold and went downhill, now it has changed owners again and is once again great. Really rich, meaty broth, chewy handcut noodles, good helping of pickled cabbage and more can be asked for on the side. And open 24 hrs. just writing this I'm getting the urge to jump in the car and drive over the bridge....and it's 2 am...

                1. re: jcolvin

                  Granville and what cross street, jcolvin?

                  1. re: grayelf

                    @ 68th, next to the VPL Marpole branch. Called Wang's Beef Noodle House:

                    http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&so...

                    Lots of local food bloggers reviews of them.

                    If you're going down there, might also wanna poke your head into The Place Restaurant up at 63rd. They had some changes of owners/chefs in the past 2-3 years (chef went to Lin @ Broadway/Granville). I haven't been to The Place for quite awhile but this past Sept I walked by and they looked completely revamped inside.

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      Thanks, LR, know it well. Was just wondering if it was a different place or not. We've hit The Place a couple times too, not bad since the changeover but a bit inconsistent...

            2. re: DylanLK

              "If Chef Hung's noodles are Journey, then Huaxi's noodles are the Dead Kennedys."

              i may hijack my relatives and drag them to crystal mall

              1. re: doughnut

                Hm. . .I don't know about you but some of my relatives aren't as food-obsessed as me. I'm usually wary about taking people like that to places that serve good food with no "ambience." If TBN is what you're looking for, I would recommend Chef Hung at Aberdeen Centre. I'm thinking it might be more "tourist-friendly," specially when travelling with children and elderly people, as in there are chairs, cutlery, and service.

                -----
                Aberdeen Centre
                4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA

                1. re: _js_

                  I know. . .I don't get how people can't be not food-obsessed. I don't get some of my friends and family. ;)

                  1. re: _js_

                    Are you ...... talking to yourself, JS ?

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      LOL. . .More of a clarification, but yean, sometimes I have to. ;)

                      1. re: _js_

                        im sorry, i shouldnt have left js hanging! no one understands me. i dont care about ambiance. sometimes if its scary like hospital cafeteria scary, it ADDs charm (in my book). :-) life is short. sometimes you have to be open to eating places that dont have orchids in handblown glass.

                2. re: doughnut

                  And your versions are "Don't Stop Slurping" and "Any Way You Want It" :-D

                3. re: DylanLK

                  The pretty, mean girl behind the counter is definitely the Soup Nazi of Crystal Mall. Don't mess with her...try not to make eye contact.

                4. What do I look for in a good bowl...

                  I like a chewy noodle. You can go to Northern Meixi in Crystal Mall and get braised beef with pulled noodles. But I actually prefer something more carefully put together, a chewy coil of noodles in the bottom of the bowl.

                  I like a relatively fatty broth. And I don't want to know there's any MSG in there. Sure, put some in! But I better not realize there's any in there. And there better not be enough for me to complain about it.

                  I like meat braised right to the point where it's barely hanging together. I also like a good mix of chewy meat and tendon. The tendon should have sticky texture, so that it almost sticks to your teeth.

                  I like a ton of pickled mustard and/or a ton of garlic, preferably on the rawish side. But I usually request it extra. My favorite beef noodle place EVER was in the Yaohan Centre food court, run by Sichuanese, I think (anyone remember this? fmed? It's been replaced by a Thai place, I believe), and they had a big pot of pickled mustard and pickled ginger within easy reach.

                  I want only beef, noodles, and condiments. No lettuce! No bean sprouts! I make a point of requesting this, if I see any other bowls with bean sprouts or anything else in them. I'm picky about that.

                  -----
                  Crystal Mall
                  4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DylanLK

                    "I want only beef, noodles, and condiments. No lettuce! No bean sprouts! I make a point of requesting this, if I see any other bowls with bean sprouts or anything else in them. I'm picky about that."

                    "No beef noodle for you !!!"
                    http://dissonanced.files.wordpress.co...

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I just saw that dude at Eat Vancouver!

                      He was eating a roast pork sandwich from Mochika's.

                  2. Thanks for all the info, especially to Dylan & the history aspect. It makes sense as TBN reminds me of the Braised Beef Brisket/ Beef Tendons Meins you get at HK cafes. Although the music analogies kinda went over my head.

                    I think I will probably hit the Metrotown/Crystal Mall area locations first as it's easier for me. Tony's will probably have to wait for a while.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: moyenchow

                      In that case, start with Crystal Mall: Northern Meixi and Huaxi. Afterward, walk around lots, do lots of shopping, and soon you'd have new appetite and be ready for dinner at either Lao Shan Dong (LSD) or The One, LSD's sister operation :-D

                      1. re: moyenchow

                        that version at crystal mall with the TBN nazi gal is Solid. broth is nicely spiced, beef is just nicely tender and noodle has a bite. possibly top 5 spicy beef noodle.
                        i believe the one to get is either the no 9 or no 10 or was it no 11.

                        dylan did you really see the Seinfeld soup nazi at eat vancouver? he must be in his late 50's now....

                        1. re: betterthanbourdain

                          I was quite surprised to see the Seinfeld Soup Nazi on the billing of Eat Vancouver. As far as I know, he's an actor, not a food-person. Maybe he made a career switch?

                      2. 3 places I go regularly are:

                        Lao Shan Dong across from Metro, Pearl House in Burnaby, and Beefy Beef Noodle House on Main/King ed.

                        Best soup base goes to Lao Shan Dong. Best beef goes to Pearl House, and Best noodle to beefy beef

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mh0408

                          I lunched at Pearl House last week (salty peppery chicken nuggets with rice combo) and was sorely disappointed. Chicken was bland, not really crispy, and was only a small handful (first impression was maybe they screwed up the order). The side dishes were nothing to write home about, just filler to make you feel like you got a large combo box. Worst part was the order took almost 30 mins (!) to arrive. If it weren't for the fact that the server was cute and she had good manners with a killer smile, I would have demanded for a full refund kicking and screaming ! [wink]

                          The guy next to me seemed like he had a good bowl of TBN :-(

                          Been to their hotpot operation next door years ago.

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            =( I've never tried their salty peppery chicken nuggets before. I usually just get the TBN. I agree with you though on the portions. The TBN rarely fills me up and I usually have to order something extra on the side.

                            Ahh, the shabu shabu place next door. There is never a bad time for some hotpot =)

                        2. There's a new one in the Richmond Public Market (replacing Lu Zhi Shen). A few samples of the basics... weak broth... weak noodles... chewy meat....

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DylanLK

                            FWIW we had a taste of the Taiwanese sausage from that booth, Dylan, and it wasn't bad...

                          2. Lao Shan Dong's TBN is the best I have tried in Vancouver, although it's still not exactly "perfect" in my standards. It has more of a sweeter broth compared to other locations and the spicy is not spicy at all!

                            I go to Tony's a lot just for convenience purposes but I think it's not bad.

                            As for Chef Hung's, I have yet to go, but I still think it's overpriced and I have heard its TBN is pretty good, but not great...

                            1. Some solid recommendations. I like the broth at Lao Shan Dong, but find their beef to be a bit tough normally. I did enjoy Chef Hung's in Aberdeen.

                              Two additional ones I haven't seen mentioned are:

                              Accord Food House on Kingsway - the broth is probably my favourite of all spots and the beef is tender

                              and

                              Huang's Beef Noodles on Victoria - The beef was the highlight here. Really nicely marbled and perfectly tender.

                              1. My choices (as I like braised beef noodles also very much, in additional to Vietnamese beef pho):

                                No.1 Beef Noodles some blocks south of BCIT, my original best place. They use tendon marbled beef (I don't like beef brisket that many places use, they are too fatty and chewy / dry, b/c the restaurants try to save a few bucks), tasty soup, and al dente noodles. But too difficult to park (tiny parking lots and no where to park on the street) at busy times.

                                Their sister restaurant (in Chinese name it's the same) on Main, very similar taste but easier to park (even though parking lot could be full). Service is better (slightly) at the Burnaby location though.

                                Master Hung at Aberdeen Centre is good, but not worth the higher price and smaller bowl, but you pay for that in a mall. Service is quite good so far though.

                                The one on Granville and 67, has changed hands so many times, that they went from good to terrible (messy fatty dirty soup), and now back to more than good. However, I don't think the current operation is 24 hours though (no great restaurants operate 24 hours, it's just not possible nor they have to). So it's back on my list.

                                Also tried one at Crystal Mall, but I forgot the name, but it's their specialty. I like it, but it's not as big a bowl as in restaurants, as pricey, but you have to use tiny chopsticks and thin tiny spoons so it's not as convenient. Also the soup is still not as tasty as the other places, but as food court quality goes, it's good enough (I don't sample too many food court stuff, as I found them less in value, as you often get a smaller serving than in restaurants).

                                I also tried the one at Imperial Mall on No. 3 in Richmond, which took over another place, which specializes in No MSG which they emphasize again and again. It's good, but not as good as others, but price is good too, so it's still on my list (as cheap beef noodles in Richmond are not easy to find).

                                I have also tried this at various bubble tea places such as "Big Head Boy", Well Tea, "Yuen Heung" and a few other places, normally they charge more and is only mediocre, but still not too bad.

                                I think it is on average easier to find a great bowl of braised beef noodle in Vancouver area than a great bowl of Vietnamese beef pho. For that, there is only 1 place that is considered an A (that is Thai Hoa on Kingsway, the sister one in Richmond is only a B+).

                                -----
                                Aberdeen Centre
                                4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA

                                Crystal Mall
                                4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jueyukyuk

                                  I Agree! that place is called No.1 Beef Noodle, on Willingdon. Broth was very tasty. Parking on the other hand is almost impossible during lunch time.