Monday, September 14, 2009

chinese/mall food: i strongly recommend XIAO NAN MEN at BREEZE

(or Little South Gate Dim Sum World)
at Breeze Center
No. 39, FuXing S. Rd, Sec 1


Kid friendliness: high chairs available.

Visit reviewed: 9/6/2009 and 3/22/2009

When you first come back to (or visit) Taipei, you think, wow, most of this mall food is awesome! It's way better than any Asian mall food back home. And for the most part, that's true- it is better than the mall food back in the states. But once you eat at enough mall joints, you discover that a Taipei hole-in-the-wall is usually better and more filling than the average food court ramen/tonkatsu/korean bim bim bap.

But when I ate at the corner of Breeze Center's food court at Xiao Nan Men, it was like eating at a hole in the wall, but in a nice air conditioned food court.

A long list of the usual suspects on a Chinese-only check off menu, you can't go wrong with the beef noodle soup, the hot sour soup, the steamed dumplings, the beef roll, stir fried vegetables, or my favorite, the crispy, pull apart pancake or zhua bing. But I think here it's called lao4 bing. I really wanted to order another one after everyone took their piece. Zhua bing was one of my favorite things to order when we'd go as kids to Happy Family, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant in LA. It's something you can find from certain street vendors, but Xiao Nan Men perfected the crispy edges and soft doughy center, so you must must order it here.

Don't forget to grab a few of the colorful liang tsai or cold appetizer dishes at the front near the register. Everyone has their own favorites- pickled cucumbers, eggplant, or soybeans wrapped in tofu skin

The pan fried dumplings or guo tie (NT$110) weren't as crispy the second time around. Longer and flatter and greasier versions of the steamed dumplings with ground pork, they come in a set of 10.

The steamed dumplings (NT$110) can be ordered with pork, beef or vegetable fillings and come 10 in 1 steamed basket order. The dumpling skin has a nice handmade bite to it, and the fillings are soft and finely chopped/ground.

I've had better steamed and pan fried dumplings elsewhere, but they were decent.

And you can't forget the noodles. There's rice noodles in a tofu soup,(NT$100) pan fried hand cut noodles, or jia jiang mian. BTW- what the heck is the right spelling? Is it mien, mein or mian??

The tofu soaks up all the soup and makes for a juicy bite. The noodles and soup seemed a little blander on second visit, but it mights a light choice for those not wanting anything too heavy.

The Moo shi chow mein are chewy stir fried noodles with sliced pork, eggs and vegetables mixed in.

The ja jiang mian (NT$100) is thick and slightly oily, you should mix the sauce and everything together. The noodles are al dente and chewy and slippery.

If you just feel like soup, the hot and sour soup(NT$45) is peppery and with strong vinegar flavor without being too spicy, with bits of rice noodle, congealed pig's blood and silky tofu that tastes like Xiao Nan Men's famous dessert soy tofu dou hua. In Chinese, the name suan la tang is a literal translation- sour spicy soup.

Or this tasty seafood soup that my uncle ordered back in March- had a slightly sweet flavor that I couldn't figure out.

The total damage after everything is devoured on one visit- a little over NT$1100 (US$33) for 7 people. Awesome.


Breeze Food Court at Taipei Main Station
No. 3, BeiPing W Rd, 2F
MRT: Taipei Main Station

Xinyi Eslite, B2
No. 11, Song Gao Road, B2
MRT: Taipei City Hall

View hungry in taipei restaurants in a larger map


Dave Hodgkinson said...

That's on the list! Two weeks to go before I'm back. Can't wait!

Su-Lin said...

I wish a place like this would open up in London! All those dumplings (I really want to try that beef roll) and those pickled veg! Yummmmy.

kirbie said...

This looks so good! I've been looking for good Zhua bing, but haven't had a good one in so long.
Your mien spelling question is funny. I've seen it so many different way too. But based on my chinese classes at college where we had to learn pinyin, the correct spelling based on pinyin is mian.

joanh said...

dave hodgkinsons: cool! have a fun trip! what else is on your list?

su-lin: is there any good chinese food in london? i've never been

kirbie: ah! i love zhua bing! thanks for the FYI about "mian"

Dave Hodgkinson said...

What else is on the list? "Whatever my girlfriend says" :)

When I was there before, I got taken for Japanese curry, Thai and American brunch. All were excellent, but hardly Taiwanese. Did get some night market and dim sum after a fight though :)

gaga said...

Wow. All those dishes make me miss Taiwan so much. I agree that hole-in-the-walls are better than mall food, but it's still pretty darn good, esp compared to what we have here in the states. I need to go back to visit SOON!

EatTravelEat said...

I don't get why the seafood soup looks so orange but I do like the zhua bing with it multiple layers and strands! The picture reminds me of my trip to Asia last ear when I had zhua bing. So good!

Baby Madison said...

good... i'm glad you tried it and reviewed it, so it's safe for me to go :)

i've always walked by but never tried it :)

Anonymous said...

i see some of my most favorite foods
lovely photos too! (:

Anonymous said...

"BTW- what the heck is the right spelling? Is it mien, mein or mian??"

Chinese mostly go by either "mian" (in Mandarin) or "min" (Cantonese). It was incorrectly spelled as mien or mein (...kampf?).

(Excuse my bad pun. Anyway "mein" sounds German to begin with.)

In Southeast Asian regions, mian is also spelled mee (Minanese). If you're in Taiwan, that's what the locals would go by too.

Anonymous said...

Xiao Nan Men World of Dimsum is so great. Hope this request isn't too outrageous, but next time you go could you please take some shots of the tops of their famous fried dumplings (i.e. that demonstrate how they're wrapped), and some closeups of the filling? Flying halfway around the world every time I crave these dumplings is hard... Thank you so, so much in advance, and thanks already for all your awesome posts!!!