Thursday, January 28, 2010

[台北] 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館‏ - Hsu's Golden Beef Noodle Soup and Dumpling House

This place was rated mostly 4 out of 4 stars in several categories by the "Taiwan Michelin" team, a self professed group of local beef noodle enthusiasts/rabid fans/experts who are really not as douchey as the real Michelin folks, because for once, it is not about hype but the food. Yes, four stars for delicious restaurant food, 3 stars for sanitary environment, 4 stars for value, service quality, and reasonable price. However don't worry too much about sanitary environment.....this is not a place to take a date, unless he or she is a beef noodle lover of epic proportions, in which case you are so getting laid after eating here (although I'll recommend an even better place for you, keep your panties on).

Here's a view of the kitchen as you enter on your left, before the dining area.

Self help side dishes, NT$30 or roughly US$1 a plate.

The owner during some recent glory days of winning awards, including 2008 Beef Noodle Soup Festival first place (via internet voting).

The owner is a very friendly guy and provided that you speak Mandarin it's smooth sailing all the way from service to pride in their product.

The store has struggled for quite some time, and literally spent half a million (US$) over 8 years in R&D to produce the exact kind of beef noodle soup they want today. And it shows in their effort.

The menu basically offers you a choice of beef noodle soup, or noodles with soup, and also dumplings in beef broth. They also offer Taiwanese style wonton noodles, sesame sauce noodles, stewed minced pork brothless noodles, side plate of veg, fishball soup (made with milkfish), and seaweed eggdrop soup.

But really you come here for the beef noodles and dumplings in beef broth.

Complimentary self help preserved spicy sour veg. Pungent Taiwanese sauerkraut.

Hua Gan 花干 (side dish)

Combination Lu Wei (marinated soy hard boiled egg, dried tofu strips, seaweed, smothered with scallions, drizzled with soy sauce paste and sesame oil)

Oh yeah the "Golden" name. It's weird, because the broth does really have a slightly golden hue or tone to it. And this is their strength. It's not a huge bowl, and for roughly US$3.50 I would not expect it to be, but it does hit the spot. The beef is the standard shank cut (I've been saying criss cross flank too much) and is very nice, although the noodles were typical "yoh mien" that you can find anywhere. Best of all no MSG, the broth is indeed flavorful and deep, but light and not oily. Anyhoo the picture of the owner getting some award and good media coverage is a testament to his success

Now the same broth makes their black pork and cabbage dumplings (also with no MSG) taste soooooo much better, and if you come here make sure you get that as well. Unfortunately I am unable to re-create this flavor of dumpling at home, even with Nijiya black pork from Canada and douchey whole foods cabbage!

Good value, although a little bit divey in the interior. These Taiwan Michelin Folks have been fairly spot on otherwise. Recommended if you are in the area!

許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館‏ (Hsu's Golden Beef Noodles and Dumplings House)
台北市松山區八德路四段272號‎  (Songsan District, Ba Der Road 4th Portion, #272)
Tel: 02-2747-6600‎


  1. The beef here is good, but the soup is truly exceptional. I haven't had beef noodle soup with flavor this deep anywhere else. Thanks for introducing me to this spot!

  2. Thanks Ken! The noodles here are not their strength, but the broth is excellent (which I think pairs slightly better with their dumplings that contain cabbage, bean thread vermicelli and celery). Even the color and tone of the broth borders on gold, hence the word "golden" in the Chinese name. I personally love 72 Beef Noodles the best so far with their clear ox bone milky broth.

  3. wtf! I just googled your website for pictures of 72 Beef Noodles - I can't believe their soup looks like 豚骨九州ラーメン that I had all the time when I lived in Tokyo!

    Thanks for the tip - white soup for beef noodles is definitely non-traditional, but I will have to try it out. Will post a comment once I do.

  4. I didn't know where to post this, but have you tried this Niu Ba Ba? I haven't tried it myself - it may be overhyped with its NT10k beef noodles. I'm a noodle soup fanatic myself (especially Japanese ramen), but this just looks nuts.

  5. Hmmm strange my 72 review wasn't tagged right.

    There are a few other places in town that do beef bone broth that looks white, but not as milky white as 72's. This place is fairly new but the bowl rocks, and I enjoy it a lot more than tonkotsu ramen that I can get in California.

    Thanks for the blog post link on Niu Baba. I've read about Tony Wang's passion before and his NT$10K bowl of beef noodles is crazy (the Japanese beef he uses is Matsuzaka). Never been though, but he's very dedicated. The one that costs NT$3000 might be a bit more reasonable, but if you are almost heading there, might as well try Master Hung's (winner of Taipei Beef Noodle 2010 festival) first.... and let me know how those beef knees taste like!

  6. Very interesting! I actually ride past the 長春店 branch of Master Hung's shop all the time, but haven't had a chance to try it yet. Hehe - beef knees are a bit extreme for me, but I will try their regular beef noodles and post some comments...

    On the opposite corner is a small 臭豆腐 stand that smells pretty good (or pretty bad, in a good sense) that also begs to be tested.

  7. You are a true Taiwanese, especially when you are essentially saying "the stinkier, the better" for the tofu! I haven't tried Master Hung's yet, but a trusted source tells me they're ok, above average, but not mindblowing. Perhaps the super bowl with the beef knees would be interesting, but it is NT$800 or something like that (unless they are still doing half priced discounts with free side dishes?)

  8. Thanks for the compliment. I do like stinkier tofu - in fact, the steamed mala versions tend to be stinkier and often even better! But in fact, I'm a little Americanized, too - for example, I'm not crazy about pork blood cakes, etc...

    I did try that 臭豆腐 place called 小可大麵線 with a big orange sign (opposite corner of the 長春店 branch of Master Hung's shop). It was pretty good - the tofu was lightly fried on the outside, which I like, but the tofu wasn't as stinky as I expected. It may be the mala tofu shop right next door that was emitting the smells. FYI, the top stinky tofu on my list is still the one at the Raohe Night Market entrance.

    Anyhow, today, I tried going to 72, but to my horror, they told me they ran out of the white soup version of their beef noodles! They offered me the regular, but I politely refused and said I would be back another day. I hopped on my moped and headed for Master Hung's on 長春. They had all sorts of award-winning noodles up to around NT200, but I just ordered their regular for NT120 and a hot pepper beef bun, but they were out of that (not my day).

    When the bowl came out, I was somewhat disappointed by the color of the soup - it was much lighter than I'm used to, so even before starting, I expected the flavor to lack depth. Also, unlike the hard-core shops like 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館 or 林東芳牛肉麵, Master Hung was missing the spicy beef lard. Although it throws my digestion out of whack for a couple of days, that stuff has crack-like addictiveness! And Master Hung had none. Expecting disappointment, I was proven wrong. The first sip wasn't bad, but it tasted even better as I had more. Their standard noodles were al dente and had the thickness and consistency like shaved noodles, which I like. Their beef doesn't have the striations like I've seen in some other shops, but it wasn't bad at all. But I have to say, Master Hung definitely falls on my "must repeat" list. Why?

    I really love those hard-core old shops for their flavor, but my body cannot take that kind of punishment over time. Doing 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館 or 林東芳牛肉麵 for one meal throws my digestion all out of whack (it's most likely the spicy beef lard, but I can't help myself). Master Hung has somehow made a "healthy" kind of beef noodles without taking all the flavor out of it - I think that's what sets him apart. I have to admit that I haven't tried any of his award-winning stuff yet, but I like to compare the base beef noodles first when I try different shops. The exception, of course, being 72, which I will get to one of these days!

    Thanks again, Beef No Guy! In Master Hung, you have introduced me to a shop when I can have satisfying beef noodles more than once a week without feeling guilty about eating "unhealthy food" or about leaving my intestines in a train wreck!

  9. I hope to try Master Hung myself the next time I go back to Taipei, not sure when, but thank you for another perspective.

    I am not a huge fan of pork blood cakes (not that I have tried it), but I am a fan of Cantonese Chiu Chow style marinated cubed pork blood. I find the bun bo hue pho shops in Northern California that have equivalent kinds of cubed pork blood to be rather chewy and flavorless in comparison.

    I've only had stinky tofu twice in Taipei, once at Shihlin which I thought wasn't that interesting, and the other at Lir Hua in Yongho that I enjoyed a bit more, maybe it was more neighborhood vibe like. I'm sure there are better ones. Wish I tried them at Shenkang!

    Sorry to hear of your unlucky encounters...didn't think 72 would run out of clear milky broth, that must be so popular now. Do persist, and I look forward to your comments (feel free to post them in the 72 noodles thread!) I am curious how you think it compares to Kyushu tonkotsu broth (even though they are apples and oranges). Definitely no MSG in that broth, make sure you add in their Himalayan pink/rose salt, a little goes a long way. I couldn't stop smiling even down to the last drop of the refill.

    You should start a blog! I am a huge fan of hujiao bing/pepper pork cake...I would go to RaoHe just for that stall.

  10. Oh, ya - Raohe's pepper pork cake kicks major ass - scalding hot and full of juice with a crispy crust!

    Thx for the encouragement - one of these days, I'll start a blog - not having a digital camera is holding me back (use cell phone? hehe).

    I wanted to go to 林東芳牛肉麵 but it's Sunday and closed, so I thought I'd go try Niu Baba. Saw the NT10k noodle on the menu, but passed on that for the standard NT200 beef noodles - still a bit expensive. In a way, Niu Baba is the complement of Master Hung. Master Hung has good noodles and soup, but some cuts of meat are sometimes a bit sloppy and questionable (I've been back 2 more times since my last post, to verify quality). Niu Baba has very good meat, but the noodles are spaghetti-like (which I detest for any kind of noodle soup) and the soup is only ok. I liked Master Hung's a bit more - it's got more attitude. At NT200, Niu Baba's bowl of beef noodles is overpriced - I feel even more so because at its location, there are a gazillion food choices! If it were around NT140-150, I would go more often just for the convenience of its location and the good meat, but at NT200, I could almost have two bowls of 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館 or 林東芳牛肉麵, both of which are better beef noodles, overall.

    IMHO, best soup: 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館. Best meat: Nui Baba. Best noodles: Master Hung. Best overall and value: 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館 or 林東芳牛肉麵. The one good thing about Niu Baba, though, is its relatively clean interior. For friends visiting, I would have no qualms bringing them to Niu Baba. I would only bring them to 許家黃金牛肉麵餃子館 or 林東芳牛肉麵 if they were hard-core noodle soup lovers.

  11. I remember reading somewhere online (that wsj blog you linked?) that Niu Baba offers up to 20 different kinds of noodles. They must have defaulted to spaghetti style...yeah that is just as bad as having very thin noodles for ramen.

    RaoHe's pepper pork cake crust reminds me of Australian shepherd's/meat pie I had in high school...but way better.

    I think the side dishes at 林東芳 were generally slightly better than 許家黃金牛肉麵 (definitely better 花干 for sure), but the pork and cabbage 餃子 at 許家 in their golden beef broth is too good for words.

  12. Thanks for the noodles tip - if I go next time, I will check. Today, for lunch, while looking for the nearby Macho Tacos (as recommended by Hungry Girl in Taipei), I ended up trying a ramen place called 小山屋. They do 豚骨ラーメン. Soup is good. Toppings were ok - the 半熟卵 was more like 煮卵 and the チャーシュー (pork slices) should be cooked to melt in your mouth. Noodles were thin - ok, but not great. I asked them to cook it al dente ばりかた, but this kind of thin noodle should be almost just scalded. Japan's 一風堂 knows how to do it. They actually have 5 levels of noodle hardness. At their recommended level, just when it comes out, the noodles are a little too hard. Because the soup is hot, the noodles are still cooking in bowl right in front of you, so it gets a little softer as you eat it, but it's never too soft. JUST PERFECT. Obviously, this is very difficult to get right, but the detail-obsessed Japanese know how.

    Come to think of it, almost all ramen places in Tokyo make excellent soup. Some may seem too salty or oily at times, but that's part of the "attitude" embedded in their style - just don't drink it all or ask them 油少なめお願いします (abura sukuname onegaishimasu) - reduce the oil please. Most places make pretty good noodles (better than in Taipei, often made in-house) and some make exemplary toppings.

    You are right - the side dishes at 林東芳 are actually of better quality than almost all the beef noodle places I can think of. I have also tried the cabbage 餃子 at 許家 - they are excellent!

  13. Great info on ramen, thanks! I haven't been back to JPN since 1999, and I wasn't into food as much at the time sadly.

    I don't recall seeing complementary 酸菜 at 林東芳 (my memory is fading), that would have enhanced the experience a bit more. The 酸菜 at 許家 was a bit spicy for my liking, but the version at 七十二牛肉麵 was top notch and went well with the signature 清燉牛肉麵, and of course the 眷村炒滷味 at 72 was probably one of my favorite side dishes of all time...the stir frying really brought out the flavors. To enjoy something like that at 林東芳 would have required a custom order and stir frying 4 or 5 side dishes together.... But it seems 72 and 許家 don't have as much side dish variety or at least the non side dish appetizer plates if any were not marketed as well. To me side dishes are an integral part of the overall beef noodle dining enjoyment, although the beef intestines at 林東芳 were not the best.