Xiao Chen’s Beef Noodle Soup

Taipei is famous for its beef noodle soup, and there are at least 3,000 beef noodle soup outlets around the city.  I have discovered that nearly everyone in Taipei has his or her own favourite beef noodle place.  Just bring up the subject of Taipei beef noodle soup and you will be inundated with people suggesting you try this place or that, and excitedly writing down directions on the back of business cards or napkins. 

Beef noodle soup

I am yet to try all the recommendations I have received, but I have made a good start at Xiao Chen’s Beef Noodles (小陳牛肉麵).  This recommendation came from a friend of mine, who is on posting in Australia as a diplomat.  He grew up in the Xinyi area, and whenever he comes back to Taipei heads straight to Xiao Chen’s for a homely bowl of beef noodle soup.

Thick beef noodles

Despite the clientele that it attracts, Xiao Chen’s is not a posh place.  On the contrary, it is a somewhat shabby hole-in-the wall snack shop.  And I don’t mean shabby chic: apart from the semblance of a sign painted in grubby red letters, there is little to identify it as a restaurant.  We could not even find an address, and there are no business cards or other advertisements.

Shop sign in front of Xiao Chen's Beef Noodle Shop

But don’t let the restaurant’s exterior put you off: the noodles are incredibly good.  We choose wide, thick noodles that reminded me so much of an Italian nonna’s cooking (Xiao Chen’s also offers spaghetti-like thin noodles).  They were silky smooth and yet still slightly chewy.  They were served in large bowls surrounded by a rich, slightly spicy broth which despite being salty was clearly not stuffed full with MSG.  And the best part was the (Australian) beef: several generous chunks of thick, beef tendon stewed until meltingly tender.  The beef noodle soup was delicious as is, but I enjoyed it with a generous spoonful of Chinese-style pickles.

Pickles

Xiao Chen’s Beef Noodle Soup is opposite No. 143 Hulin Street, Xinyi District  [台北市信義區虎林街143號對面].  To get there, take exit 4 from the Yongchun MRT station.  Turn right into the laneway at 7-11 and follow the lane down around 100 metres.  Xiao Chen is on the right in an unassuming shop set back from the street.  A small bowl (which was enough for me) is NTD110 (AUD3.60), and a large bowl (which even my hungry husband found slightly daunting) is NTD150 (AUD5).

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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6 Responses to Xiao Chen’s Beef Noodle Soup

  1. Katiepea says:

    This looks absolutely delicious! It reminds me of a Chinese version of Pho, the delicious Vietnamese broth which also features beef, noodles in a yummy soup.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Hi Katiepea, yes there are similarities between Taipei Beef Noodle Soup and Pho. Both are based on a broth made of beef and spices such as star anise. But whereas Pho is usually served with fresh beef slices with rice stick noodles and an accompanying bowl of salad, Taipei Beef Noodle Soup usually features stewed beef tendon, lettuce and wheat-based noodles. There are many different recipes for each, though, so this is just a rough generality.

  2. The beef noodle soup looks amazing. It looks a little oily but I believe it works well with the hearty flavors and the pickles cut through the oil well. I love the chewiness of the noodles.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      The soup stock was a bit oily, but surprisingly not too salty. Definitely not something to eat everyday, but I am keen to retry this in winter. It was a dark, raining day when I ate these noodles and it cheered me up enormously.

  3. Y says:

    We just went there and it is really good. We had the liang ban noodles too as the beef broth is too spicy for the little ones, and I dare say the liang ban noodles tasted even fresher than those for the beef noodle soup. The guy (owner) even speaks a little English. And the night we went, there was a vendor selling zhongzi which we took home and were also good upon reheating.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      It’s a good store, isn’t it? The shops around that area are cute as well, not far from the Yongchun markets.

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