SLACK SEASON NOODLES
or TU HSIAO YUEH 度小月
No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4
MRT: Zhongxiao/Dunhua or SYS Memorial Hall
website: www.iddi.com.tw mostly Chinese
hours: 11:30AM - 11PM
Kid friendliness: lots of kid friendly options
Visit reviewed: 4/16/2012
I love it when relatives introduce me to new restaurants, especially good Taiwanese ones, and my relatives from NY picked Slack Season Noodles as the place for a casual lunch to meet up. I probably could have passed by the shop a hundred times (next to Yogurt Art) and not have the urge to wander in for a meal, as the subtle exterior and sign hides the modern meets traditional Chinese and dark wood interior, and cheap and delicious food inside.
I often get asked to recommend restaurants (Top five favorites? Gluten-free? Romantic on New Year's Eve? Taiwanese but not Din Tai Fung?), and now I have another one to add to my list for the last question.
The menu is check-off-the-box, but ask for the English menu and you shall receive. With pictures for each menu item too! Just match the number from the menu and use it to check off the matching line item.
Slack Season Noodles originated in Tainan, with a street vendor selling dan dan noodles, a minced pork noodle soup. The restaurant's name comes from the shop's origins- when its founder, a fisherman, created the noodles to make a living during the fishing "slack season" and they became so popular he started selling them full time. Over one hundred years ago in 1895! (Though the menu says 1894, the shop's sign says 1895). Now Tu Hsiao Yueh has expanded to restaurants in Taipei from Tainan, offering affordable Taiwanese eats, like tan tsi mian, lu rou fan (braised pork rice), fried oysters or smoked shark, with nods to its origins with chefs preparing the noodles in the front corner of each restaurant at an old school, street vendor-like area.
Each person got a bowl of tan tsi noodles (or dan zhi or dan zai (oh how romanized spellings drive me crazy) (NT$50). Some chose the classic oil noodle, and I chose the thin vermicelli rice noodle. You can also order it with or without soup, or add on things like duck egg or meatballs. The flavor is light, but it's not plain, with flavors of garlic, cilantro, vinegar and Taiwanese shallots infused in the broth and meat sauce. For my relatives, this is their equivalent of chicken noodle soup, their comfort food.
The bowl isn't big enough to fill me up, like beef noodle soup or pho, but is just enough to slurp up and accompany a taste of everything on the table, which includes a lot of traditional Tainan style dishes. Everything is fresh and delicious, and luckily we have a big group so we can order plenty of things to share family style.
smoked goose by tea leaves (NT$200)
braised intestines (NT$200)
deep fried tofu (NT$160)
|Pescadore's Squid Ball (NT$150)|
as well as these addictive golden shrimp rolls (NT150) which are similar to Thai shrimp cakes, with fried minced shrimp and fishcake.
|Asparagus salad (NT$150)|
|Hot spring loofah with clams (NT$180)|
My favorite out of the bunch was the crisp mochi covered in a layer of sesame powder.
I might have been late to the game in finding out about the underrated tan tsi noodles as a must-eat in Taipei, but it holds a lot of nostalgia for many. So add this to your to-do list when in Taipei, or take the high speed rail to the original shop in Tainan.
No. 180, Sec. 2, Zhongshan North Rd., Taipei 台北市中山北路二段180號
9-1 Yongkang St., Taipei 台北市永康街9-1號
No. 16 Zhongzheng Rd, Tainan (Original shop) 台南市中正路16號
No. 101, Zhongzheng Rd, Tainan 台南市中正路１０１號