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Jul 18, 2010 10:26 PM

Taiwanese beef noodle soup

My favorite staple of Taiwanese cuisine has gotta be their spicy beef noodle soup. It's executed to perfection at all sorts of grimy hole-in-the-wall places in the native country, but vexingly difficult to find a an accurate version of around here.

This is the way i remember it: The broth is spicy, oily, and very aromatic with strong notes of star anise. The meat (i forget the cut, but it's often cut with a lot of tendon and cartilage) is slow braised for long hours in some soy-marinade until it falls apart in your mouth. The noodles, on the thin side and chewy. And the whole thing dressed with copious pickled mustard greens.

I've found some places in the greater NY that do one or another of the elements well.. For example, the various Lanzhou hand pulled noodle places have the right noodle consistency, but the broth is sadly one-dimensional and the meat nothing to speak of. Excellent Porkchop House has the closest broth rendition so far, but the noodles are typical and meat only slightly better than average. Ajisen noodle serves a ramen entree with one of the best tendon-y cuts of meat, but isn't really a beef noodle soup. Even in Flushing (i've tried at 66 Lu's and in the Flushing Mall) which seems most promising, something has always been missing somewhere.

I have the most hope for the Queens area, but basically I'm looking for an authentic Taiwanese style beef noodle soup that has the above elements. Recommendations, please?

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  1. Have you tried Nan Bei He yet? If not, they have a braised beef noodle soup in a thick, stew-like broth that will probably meet some of your requirements. Haven't had a bowl in a while, but I came back for the beef component if nothing else. Perhaps you already know this, but it's the restaurant formerly known as King 5 Noodle, within spitting distance of 66 Lu's, next block over on Prince in the direction of Roosevelt. It's sandwiched between Sentosa and Spicy and Tasty. Also, a half-block up from Lu's, on the same side, other direction, is Happy Beef Noodle. They serve some variations on Taiwanese beef noodle soup as well. Best of luck in your quest.

    39-07 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

    13 Replies
    1. re: Polecat

      Taiwanese beef noodle done well is extremely hard to find in NY, I haven't had a truly good version

      Nan Bei He is closed, the owners also own King 5 Noodle (which no longer has an english name and is simply known as niu rou mian / beef noodle in chinese). King 5 has a decent beef noodle, their beef was pretty decent, broth was good but not great and the noodles were ok, but not as good as the lan zhou places. However, it is the closest rendition i've had in NY b/c it's much more taiwanese style / flavor than the other places. My review:

      As Polecat says there is Happy Beef Noodle, I haven't tried it

      Fyi, my opinion, but 144 East Broadway is much better than Food Sing 88, which isn't bad, but not great either, my review of both places

      1. re: Lau

        The noodle shop at 144 E. Broadway appears to be a sister restaurant of a larger one at 96 E. Broadway. Although the awning identifies it as Fuzhou something or other, it had a sandwich board on the sidewalk identifying it as "Lan Zhou Hand Made Noodle and Dumpling" when I saw in in early June. The name and the menu (including the lettering and colors) were identical to the restaurant at 96 E. Broadway, which incidentally also had a Fuzhou reference on the marquee. I reviewed the latter as part of an umbrella review of four hand-pulled noodle places and noted at the time the similarity to the Taiwanese style broth. http://is.gd/d6AxC

        1. re: soupçon

          well actually they are all fujjian run, lan zhou happens to be famous for their beef noodle soup, so in chinese all of them advertise themselves as lan zhou noodle places and some of their have references to being fujian, but everyone working there speaks fujian and most of the customers are fujian as well. I'm not sure if the restaurants are related or not, but they could be

          i find all of their noodles tend to be pretty good, but i dont think their broth tastes like the ones in taiwan...its not that same type of hong shau broth which is spicier and i think much more flavorful, the beef is obviously completely different

          btw try the zha zhang mian at the lan zhou place at the golden mall, its pretty decent, actually the only decent chinese version ive had in NY

          1. re: soupçon

            A noodle place at 96 E. Broadway? I can't visualize that--I thought there was a bakery there. Chinatown photo project shows Ruby Bakery a few years ago, but earlier this year it was called China Favorite.


            1. re: Chandavkl

              It still says "China Favorite" on the marquee but as of late May was serving the same noodle menu as 144 E, Broadway


              1. re: soupçon

                Bizarre! A stealth noodle operation. Thanks.

          2. re: Lau

            I think Food Sing 88 Corp has the best broth of all the Manhattan shops. Have not tried Happy Beef Noodle yet on Prince.

          3. re: Polecat

            I respectfully report that I was very disappointed in Happy Beef Noodle. I had a craving about a month ago as I walked near Prince Street. I ordered the basic beef noodle soup. Not only did it take much longer than expected (almost 10 minutes), every component (beef, soup and noodle) was below average. I will not be returning.

            I'm also curious about the noodle place next to Sentosa's. I hope to be trying that sometime soon.

            39-07 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

            1. re: nooyawka

              And it was below average because...?

              1. re: scoopG

                Noodle was limp, and the beef and soup lacked flavor. It was just bad. Trust me, I'm not wrong on this.

                1. re: nooyawka

                  My experience of the Taiwanese beef noodle soup at HBN differs from yours. While not stellar, it was solid, with good, deep flavor and al dente noodles. That said, while I liked it fine, it's not likely to meet all of the OP's requirements.

                  1. re: Polecat

                    I really liked the Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Happy Beef Noodle both times I went there. The broth was appropriately beefy, the noodles were fine and most notably, the beef chunks were tender and flavorful - that's something I think trips up a lot of noodle soups, the cuts of meat can be too dry and tough.

              2. re: nooyawka

                the noodle place next to sentosa is king 5 noodle, which i mentioned in my response....now only called "niu rou mian" in chinese, see my post, u can see a review on it

            2. I don't recall my beef noodle soup experiences in Taipei as one of being all that spicy when served - you could raise the spice level yourself with added chili oil. But of course these places abound in Taipei with every neighborhood having their own dispenser. Normally beef shin is used. I find the broth at Food Sing 88 Corp. at 2 East Broadway in Manhattan to be the best of the bunch there - and you have to ask for the pickled greens yourself. If you are nice they bring you the container and let you spoon as much as you like into your bowl. I am not sure if Gu Shine or Main Street Imperial have this on their menu.

              1. While searching for beef noodle videos on youtube, I came across this Chinese media clip
                of Happy Beef Noodle House at 3810 Prince St in Flushing


                To me it looks authentic enough, although I'm sure the owner and shop will be more than happy to do a Sichuan style or add some chili oil on top for you.

                Happy Beef Noodle House
                38-10 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                1. I know what you're talking about and it's unfortunate the best spicy beef noodle soup restaurant in Flushing closed (Shanghai Bun). Have you tried Gu-Shine? I'm not sure if they have beef noodle soup (although they really should), but the dishes have been good. Shanghai Bun & Gu-Shine were the only 2 good Chinese restaurants in Flushing IMO.

                  135-40 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

                  Shanghai Bun
                  136-11 38th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ballmouse

                    i dont think gu xiang has beef noodle soup

                    1. re: Lau

                      ah. well that might explain why i've never had it there then ha :) nevermind then!

                      1. re: ballmouse

                        I love Taiwanese beef noodles. My favorite place was the one that use to be in Flushing mall. Gu Xing does sell beef noodle or use to, I had it there a few years ago. Don't bother, tender meat, no flavor. I agree with the lack of flavor with HBNH, noodles is fine and beef is tender but soup is on the bland side. I think it lacks the Chinese bean paste flavor.
                        The niu rou mian next to Sentosa is actually slightly better. They have different versions, clear broth, spicy broth and two other flavors I can't remembered because I only order the spicy and clear broth. I prefer their foor to HBNH, but like HBNH's service way better. Personally, I think HBNH's best dishes is the Pork Chop over rice. Better then 66 few doors down.

                        39-07 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                  2. Has it been mentioned - the Taiwanese vendor in the Flushing Mall that serves Beef Noodle Soup? Have not tried them yet...Also saw a Chengdu stand there that did not seem to be open.