ad sense header

Thursday, November 21, 2013

taiwanese/beef noodle soup: LAO WANG JI BEEF NOODLE SOUP

No. 15, TaoYuan Street
(02) 2375-8973

MRT: Ximen

hours: 10am-9pm

$ (about NT$180/person)

Kid friendliness: old school two story noodle shop, no high chairs spotted

Visit reviewed:10/2/2013

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?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

desserts/delivery: I recommend THE COOKIE JAR

(02) 8218-2777

I had spotted pictures of the cookie sandwiches aka whoopie pies from the Cookie Jar for awhile online, but didn't get a chance to try them until last week when a girlfriend and I decided to fulfill our cookie cravings together.  I pointed her to their Facebook page and she ordered the cookies and brought them over. The cookies from Cookie Jar are made to order by the owner Karen and ordered via phone, email or online through the website or Facebook page and are usually delivered the next day or at an arranged pick up area. The bright pink bag and adorable packaging are perfect for gifting, or to order to share like we did.

Cookies in Taiwan usually tend to be thin and crispy and it's harder to find American style chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside cookies unless you know where to look (I find myself going to Subway or We Love Cookies for cravings or making them at home). But it's always great to have another listing on the rolodex in case a craving hits and the Cookie Jar even delivers (although you have to wait until the next day to fill that craving!)

The Cookie Jar offers a great selection of flavors to choose from- including red velvet with cream cheese frosting, chocolate with marshmallow filling, cranberry oatmeal, carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting and oatmeal raisin.  Whoopie pies tend to typically be a cookie-cake hybrid in texture, and I'd say these cookies were more along those lines and softer than what I expected- not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm guessing that's why they recommend putting the cookies in the fridge if they aren't eaten the first day.

I really enjoyed all the cookies I tried, but my favorite was the chocolate cookie with marshmallow filling- the cookie was not as cakey and the filling was gooey but not too much so. A lot of the frostings in the cookie sandwiches tasted very similar to me, but the marshmallow filling stood out. The chocolate cookie also had chocolate chips in it, so it was a double chocolatey delicious bite.


I also enjoyed the carrot cake cookie and cranberry oatmeal which had just the right amount of sweetness if eaten apart from the frosting. A box of 6 cookie sandwiches is NT$250, but if you want just the cookies- a box of 18 is NT$300- and you can mix and match the flavors in your order. Even with all the macaron craziness with the opening of Laduree in Taipei, sometimes a chewy cookie is more satisfying (and more affordable!).