August 15, 2015

A sort of homecoming: beef noodle run

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One of the things I promised Hello Kitty in this trip was to take her to my favorite beef noodle joint.  Beef Father Beef Noodles (牛爸爸牛肉麵) has been my favorite since I was first introduced to it more than 10 years ago.  Having stayed away for the last few years since they relocated from the center of town to the boonies, it was time to scratch that itch.

This is just about the most expensive beef noodle restaurant in town, and well-known for serving bowls of noodles at seemingly exorbitant prices. On my last visit about 5 years ago, I splurged and got myself a bowl of noodles for USD 100.  I knew that they hiked prices across the board a few years ago, with prices of most bowls (in fact, all except their most expensive offering which cost more than USD 300) going up about 50%.  I had briefly contemplating splurging again and paying TWD 5,000 for what I thought used to be the TWD 3,000 (USD 100) bowl, but as we were unexpectedly joined by the Parental Units, I thought better of it.

But first we would start with a few appetizers.  First and foremost would be the peanuts - which are cooked and marinated over three days in the sauce for pig trotters.  Mom didn't seem particularly impressed as lots of people used to cook their peanuts in this type of sauce, although that's no longer done today.  I also got ourselves a couple of plates of veggies and marinated kelp.

VIP beef noodles (貴賓牛肉麵) - this used to cost TWD 1,000 but today costs TWD 1,500.  Comes with a classic, slow-braised beef broth full of beefy goodness.  I suggested that Hello Kitty take this since it is the signature of the restaurant.  Five very tender cubes of beef, with different cuts coming from several countries.

Beef noodles with clear broth (清燉牛肉麵) - I've never had this on all my visits, so I decided to try it out for once.  Also TWD 1,500 a bowl.  The first thing I noticed was that there was no beef in my bowl, only the clear beef broth and the noodles!  The noodles are noticeably thinner than the ones used in the VIP beef noodles.  The broth was clear, but I gotta say that it was a little too mild and delicate (read: bland).  I love beef broth whether it's heavy or a clear consommé, but it's gotta have more oooomph than this!

The beef came on the side, with a little bit of the braised broth.  Six cubes in three different cuts.  All very, very tender and tasty.

At first glance I thought I was given a couple of beef meatballs, but they're actually beef shank cut into spherical shape.  Yum.

We also got some almond jelly, which turned out to be so-so.  They decided to use gelatin instead of agar-agar, so the consistency was a little too rubbery.

Mom finally had a chance to try these noodles, even though she only had a couple of nibbles from dad's and my bowls.  Verdict from mom?  Quality was definitely high, both in terms of the raw materials as well as the execution.  But there was no way that she would willingly pay for the noodles at these prices...

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