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Monday, September 14, 2009
chinese/mall food: i strongly recommend XIAO NAN MEN at BREEZE
XIAO NAN MEN DIAN XIN SHI JIE
(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
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