牛肉麵 – Beef Noodle Soup

Beef NoodleDuring my years living in Taiwan, I came to discover the pure culinary joy that is “牛肉麵” niu rou mien or beef noodle soup. This Chinese and Taiwanese dish is served hot and consists of stewed braised beef simmered in beef broth, vegetables such as Chinese spinach and bok choi, and handmade wheat noodles. It’s usually served with a garnish of Chinese sauerkraut or green onion.

In Taiwan, beef noodle soup is considered a national dish, and vendors are found ubiquitously around the island. Every year the city of Taipei holds a beef noodle festival, where restaurants and chefs come with their best recipes and complete for the prestigious “best beef noodle” award.

Though I ate beef noodle soup as often as I could while living in Taiwan, unfortunately when I returned to Canada I discovered it wasn’t easy to find. Sure, I tried many different variants, hoping they would live up to my lofty expectations, but sadly none of them did. The closest I came was in Montreal’s Chinatown district, where I found a shop that even hand made their own noodles. And there is a very tasty beef noodle at Ching’s Kitchen in Ottawa, but at the end of the day, neither was quite what I was looking for.

That’s why I was so thrilled when I found a hole in the wall noodle shop on Rideau street called Shanghai Wonton Soup. I went there looking for ramen (one of my new favorite discoveries), but when I arrived I saw that Hokkeido Ramen had closed down and Shanghai Wonton had taken it’s place. When I saw “beef noodle soup” on their menu I knew I had to go in.

The dish is $7.50, and for an extra dollar they’ll ask if you want to add an egg. To my delight, this turned out to be a tea steeped egg, another common item normally found simmering in cauldrons in Taiwanese 7-11’s. I didn’t have to wait long, and when the soup came, I was happy to see that as far as looks go, this dish was everything I imagined. The delightful aroma brought me right back to the bustling city streets of Taichung or Tainan.

Next I took a sip of broth and thankfully, I wasn’t let down. This was the real deal. Even the noodles were the same as I remember. The beef was perfectly braised, and some chunks almost flaked apart in the stew. If anything this was a higher quality cut of beef than I was used to in Taiwan. Not complaining!

I asked the owner, and he said although his family is from Shanghai, their recipe comes from the same place in China that many Taiwanese originated from, so the soup would likely be very similar.

Count me satisfied. I’ve gone back several more times since, and I’ll keep going back. If you want to try an authentic Taiwanese style beef noodle soup, I highly recommend you give this place a try.

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