Thursday, January 21, 2010

阿宗麵線 Ay Chung 西門町 Xiemending Taipei

Some of you in the San Francisco Bay Area (Richmond, Milpitas) and San Gabriel may be familiar with the name Ay-Chung. Sometime around 2003, Ay-Chung Noodle opened up branches in Southern California, Milpitas (Nor Cal), and at one point attempted launches in Houston and Richmond (Nor Cal). Each US location offered a wide variety of Taiwanese street food snacks from appetizers, rice plates, noodle plates, teppan steak set meals, soups, soy sauce marinated mini dishes, teas, slushes, tapioca milk tea. A$Ns love variety like some cheap a$$ buffet, but we know that when you de-specialize in your offerings like that, you run the risk of watering them down at the same time.

No idea what happened but it looks like almost all of the locations have shut down. Not sure about San Gabriel or Las Vegas locations...

And if I were the OG $hiznit Ay-Chung (like this one), I'd be mad too at misrepresenting the brand. So this loving writeup is dedicated to them.

The ORIGINAL Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle 阿宗麵線, is located in the hustle and bustle always busy and trendy Xiementing District. 西門町 Ay Chung has at least two locations in Taipei (the other one being Shih Lin Night Market) and quality between the two are very consistent with each other.

The difference here is that AC offers only ONE product (choose between small or large cup or bowl), the flour rice noodle (Ah Jung Mien Sien 阿宗麵線) , nails and pounds that shit to the ground. About 2 ish years ago they started offering tea drinks on the menu, just to keep it simple. But everyone goes and gets a bowl or two.

Ay Chung is over 30 years old. Same receipe, same menu. Still as popular as ever. Original owner already handed it down to his son.

Really simple procedure at any Ay Chung Taipei location.

1) Go line your ass up

2) Specify quantity and size

3) Respond when asked (in Mandarin) if you want black vinegar, garlic, cilantro

4) Pay

Steps 2-4) takes about 15 seconds, and you get your order by the end of the process if you don't freeze like a deer in headlights.

Here's a clip of the chef scoopin the good stuff ad nauseum

5) When you get your order move to the side. Add chili sauce if you want, use sparingly, it is mindf***kingly devasting but abusively good.

6) If at the XMD 西門町 flagship location, you eat standing up, I guess a true definition of a noodle bar! Take that David "MomoFukMe" Chang! If your order is not to go, and you are done, dunk the plastic bowl into a bucket of dirty dishes. Discard plastic spoons separately as trash.

6b) if at the Shihlin Night Market location you may go inside their bench seating area with flatscreen TV and fans. No tables so avoid spilling that hot shizzle on your lap like a McLawsuit.

Purchased from the Shihlin Night Market location of Ay Chung

Ay Chung's noodles is a sexcellent example of why Taiwanese street food rocks. A run down of its contents

- the base broth is made with katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes, and a key ingredient and literally the soul of all Taiwanese broths), soy sauce and other secret ingredients. Thickened with yam starch (or something similar) but overall a light bite. When you are almost finished with your bowl, you see residual bonito flakes.

- the mien sien 麵線 noodles are uber soft (some might think soggy) but were likely salted and dried in the sun.

- bamboo shoots (very thinly sliced)

- very finely minced garlic brings out the flavors

- black vinegar (optional adding at Shihlin location), this adds additional sensory tickles (savory, sour, ooo-mommy). It is like how black vinegar enhances eating xiao long bao.

- chitterlings or finely cut small pieces of pork intestines with good bounce but not rubbery or too tough.

- cilantro on top that should be a mild distraction even if you hate that stuff.

This is highly recommended also by tourist guides, and also a big hit with Japanese and European tourists to Taiwan as well.

阿宗麵線 (西門町) Ay Chung Ximending Flagship store Taipei
台北市萬華區峨嵋街8之1號‎  (Man Hua District, Er Mei Street 8 of #1)
Tel: 02-2620-9989‎

阿宗麵線 (士林夜市) - Ay Chung Shihlin Night Market branch
台北市士林區文林路101巷24號1樓‎ Taipei City Shihlin District, Wen Lin Road 101 Alley, #24, 1st Fl
Tel: 02-2883-8058‎

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