LAO WANG JI BEEF NOODLE SOUP
No. 15, TaoYuan Street
$ (about NT$180/person)
Kid friendliness: old school two story noodle shop, no high chairs spotted
Finally got a chance to try the infamous Lao Wang beef noodle soup, although it was by accident. I was with some out of town friends in Ximending and we lost half our group who were off to "that famous beef noodle place on Tao Yuan Jie" when they turned a corner. So we hopped in a taxi, exclaimed our destination and he drove half a block and stopped at this signless shop. Doh!
From the outside, the shop looks like it's been here forever (ok, over 50 years). It doesn't have any fancy signage, much less signage at all to signal that it's a beef noodle shop. Once you step closer you can see the front of the house kitchen dishing up bowls to serve (with a giant no photos allowed sign) and inside is packed despite it being past the prime lunch hour (which I hear there is often a line).
We make our way upstairs where everyone is busy eating, hunched over on stools. When the staff takes our order, we have the choice of ordering the braised beef noodle soup or the clear broth beef noodle soup- I opt for the classic braised beef broth (NT$180). The pickled vegetables, self serve chopsticks and condiments are already on the table, although the owner might grab the vegetables once you're done to share with another table.
We also try to order the steamed pork rib (NT$110), but they've run out, so we share with our friends who've gotten the last order. (Yong Kang St Beef Noodle Shop's steamed pork ribs and intestines are more memorable as it also comes with sweet potatoes)
The braised beef noodle soup (NT$180) is impressive looking when it comes to the table, with several thick slices of beef piled atop the huge bowl of noodles and soup. Because I had heard how amazing the beef noodles were here, I wanted to love it. While the beef was tender and plentiful, I found the soup to be on the salty side for me so I couldn't drink more than a few spoonfuls with the noodles. But Lao Wang is the favorite of quite a few people, so if you're in the Ximen area, you could give it a try.
The search for my favorite beef noodle soup in Taipei continues! So far my favorites are still Shan Xi Dao Xiao Mian (knife shaved noodles, get the broth with tomato!) and Little Shanghai (half tendon, half beef). Where should I try next?