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HUALIEN (花蓮) - TAROKO (太魯閣)






Tuesday, October 16, 2018


When the weather turns cold, nothing beats sipping a hot soup from a bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles.  As the temperatures continue to drop in Taipei, locals and international visitors need a quick relief from the chilly atmosphere.  Most people will go to their favorite restaurants.  Of the many eateries offering the same kind of local food, there are stalls that stood the test of time.   Liu Shandong is one of them and I went there to taste their specialty, the braised beef noodle soup.

Hidden in one of the corners in Taipei.  The restaurant is located at the intersection of Lane 23, Section 1, Chongqing South Road and Lane 14, Section 1, Kaifeng Street.  One would be surprised to see the famous Liu Shandong filled with customers and with a long queue even though it is not visible from the major roads in the city.  I was amazed to discover that there are still places in the city that hasn’t changed at all.  Just a short walk from Taipei Main Station and amidst the tall buildings and shopping malls, a community coexists with its narrow alleys.

To get to Lui Shandong, one must board the Taipei MRT, get off at Taipei Main Station and then look for Exit Z6 or Z8.  The “Big Maze” might confuse first-time visitors on where to find the exit inside the Station Front Metro Mall.  To make life easier, tourists can just go to Exit M5 and then cross the street to find the alley where the restaurant is located.  A Google Map app on my smartphone helped me find my way. Haha!

First-come, first-serve.  Open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm from Monday to Saturday, Lui Shandong has lots of customers during lunch time.  With the thousands of employees looking for something to eat at noon,  people make a long line just to have a seat and have their orders taken.  Knowing this fact, I went to the shop at 3:00 pm in the afternoon.   The restaurant was still busy but there were empty seats where I can sit comfortably.

Can’t speak Chinese? No problem, they have an English menu with Japanese and Korean text to help international visitors choose the kind of noodles that they want to eat.   The braised beef noodles was my first choice coupled with my side dishes, the pure braised beef, and pita bread. I waited for five minutes for these food to be served on my table.   A few more minutes of waiting and my beef noodles had finally arrived.

Thick noodles with floating dark-colored slices of beef.  Its invigorating soup is perfect for the rainy weather in Taipei.   I stared at my bowl of Braised Beef Noodles for a few seconds.  Wanting to know the difference with the “pure braised beef” on the saucer, I grabbed one from the tiny plate and compared it to the braised beef on my noodle soup.   

braised beef

pure braised beef

The “braised beef” has all the flavors and aroma of the soup while the slices of “pure braised beef” tasted like it was just boiled.  The delicious taste of the braised beef made it easy for me to eat all it.  Without noticing that they were all gone, the pure braised beef sidedish helped replenish the meat on the noodle soup.   

I also enjoyed eating the Pita bread especially when I dipped them in the soup.  I just let them get soaked together with the thick noodles so they would become soft and easier to eat.   It was not a typical bread that you put directly in your mouth.   On the English menu, you can order beef noodles with the already soaked bread on it.   It was really meant to those people whose stomachs are not yet satisfied with the thick noodles.  Speaking of the noodles, they were the chunkiest that I have ever seen and they are definitely handmade by the owners of the shop.  

What’s my verdict? A perfect 5 out of 5 luomujie stars.  Comparing it with a bowl of beef noodles that you can buy in the food court in Taipei Main Station, it won’t have a match against the food cooked at Liu Shandong. 

Since 1951. Seven decades and counting…  Time and time again, it will always be hailed as one of the best beef noodles in Taipei.

Liu Shandong Beef Noodles (劉山東牛肉麵)
address: No. 2號, Lane 14, Section 1, Kaifeng St, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, 100
open: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday to Saturday
[Google Map]

How to get here:  MRT Taipei Main Station (Blue Line/Red Line) -> Exit Z6 [Google Map] or Exit Z8 [Google Map] -> walk to the restaurant

My order:
1.  braised beef noodles: NTD 150

2.  pure braised beef: NTD 100

3.  pita bread: NTD 20

Total: NTD 270
My rating: 5 out of 5 luomujie stars

Rapsa is a slang for the Filipino word "sarap" which means delicious. Delicious -> sarap -> "rapsa" (inverted syllable order). The Rapsa Edition of the "My Beloved Taipei" Travel Series will take readers to the tastiest and yummiest foods in Taipei. Get to know the best desserts and local delicacies that Taiwan's capital has to offer, through this subprogram of the luomujie blog.

Liu Shandong Beef Noodles (劉山東牛肉麵) [Taipei kong mahal 181017 (Rapsa Edition): The Best Beef Noodles in Taipei]

Read More

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ichiran Ramen Taipei.  Cooked in Taiwan, but feels like you're in Japan.  This restaurant is crazy!  Open for 24 hours, it holds the record for the longest queue to enter its store.  Not just hours, but 10 tiresome days! Do you have what it takes to line up for that long?  I know its really disturbing, but for the locals who joined the waiting list for over a week speaks something big for this Japanese noodle house.  Hailed as the leading brand of ramen restaurant around the globe, is the hype really true? 

The long queue of people at Ichiran Taipei head branch on a holiday in Taiwan.

Ramen fans will definitely say yes.  There is no doubt that they will jump with joy once the spicy aroma of the broth entered their noses.   I, who is not a ramen lover, fell in love at first sight of my order.  A big bowl of the hot noodles with floating slices of pork and minced vegetables, the smell is already enough to tell every customer that it is so delicous.

An unexpected experience.  Being a very busy Ph.D. student, I didn't have much time to read reviews about other people's eating experience Ichiran. What I know is that it is very famous.  It was a good idea though that it didn't read anything on the internet. It would spoil any surprise that will happen once I stepped inside the store.

I went to the store at 9:30 am on a Wednesday morning.  Going on lunch time even on weekends and holidays would be a bad idea. You will only be wasting your time lining up for something that would seem to take hours to finish.   With no line at all when I arrived at the store, I immediately entered inside, greeted by a lady and led to a tiny room which looks like a computer shop. Haha!

I was assigned to Table 5.

Available seats can be monitored through this counter booth seating chart.  I think the chairs have sensors. Haha!

The reed blind in Ichiran Taipei

An affair with yourself.  Each customer is given a seat and faces a table with a reed blind.  It's like a taking an exam or casting your vote in a polling precint as other tables are covered by a divider.  Behind the “tatami”-like cover are the staff of the restaurant, ready to take orders from hungry customers.  The same-style that the Japanese are experiencing on their homeland Ichiran restaurants.

My order sheet

I also opted for the Ichiran special and the 1/2 noodle refill.

tonkotsu” noodle soup

A checklist makes it easy for visitors to decide on the orders.  The basic ramen costs NTD 288 and the add-ons will make the bowl of noodles more expensive.  For budget tourists in Taiwan, the basic ramen should be enough.  An Ichiran special was offered for NTD 134 and I didn't hesitate to try it.  It is a platter containing extra slices of pork and a soft-boiled egg placed on top of a “nori” wrapper.

Customers shoud take note that if they want to have another round of noodles.  They can request for an additional serving by doing the kae-dama move.  Just place the tiny plate on the sensor, a tune will play and the staff on the other side would raise the curtains and do your request.  When I first ordered my ramen, I already checked the half-serving of extra noodles so they already knew what I wanted I rang the bell.

The soup is life.  Another reminder for first-timers that doing the kae-dama is only possible, if  your bowl is still-half filled with the mouth-watering noodle broth.  I was told by one of the staff  that they only give the add-ons  but don't serve another round of the soup.  Sipping all of it would mean a finished meal.  

A ring on the bowl helped me identify the half-way mark.  After receiving my extra noodles, I then added my platter of Ichiran Special.  It prolonged the life of my ramen and added more taste especially the soft-boiled egg.  I also enjoyed the sliced porks, but the best part is really the  soup itself.  The mixture of flavors and the right level of spiceness created an unforgettable memory on my taste buds.  

The hype is real! So don't miss the chance to eat in Ichiran Taipei.  I give it a perfect score on my own rating system. Five out of five luomujie stars! With its endless line of customers and superb dining experience, it is no doubt that it is the world's best ramen.

ICHIRAN Taiwan Taipei Headshop (一蘭 台灣台北本店) 
address: No. 97號, Songren Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, 110 
24 hours open

How to get here:  MRT Taipei City Hall Station (Blue line) -> walk to the restaurant

ICHIRAN Taiwan Taipei Mitsukoshi Place A11
address: B1F, No. 11, Songshou Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City, 110
Tel: 02-2729-9866
24 hours open

My order:
1.   Ramen: NTD 288

2.  Ichiran Special: NTD 134
(half-boiled salted egg, 3 pieces of sliced pork and 2 pieces of dried seaweed)

3.  half noodle refill: NTD 48

Total: NTD 470
My rating: 5 out of 5 luomujie stars

Rapsa is a slang for the Filipino word "sarap" which means delicious. Delicious -> sarap -> "rapsa" (inverted syllable order). The Rapsa Edition of the "My Beloved Taipei" Travel Series will take readers to the tastiest and yummiest foods in Taipei. Get to know the best desserts and local delicacies that Taiwan's capital has to offer, through this subprogram of the luomujie blog.

Ichiran Ramen (一蘭 台灣台北本店) [Taipei kong mahal 181003 (Rapsa Edition): The World's Best Ramen]

Read More

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