Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eating My Way Through Taiwan: Niu Rou Mian

Niu Rou Mian
One of my all-time favorite dishes is Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodles). This is a delicious traditional Taiwanese meal. It’s is made with chunks of Beef, Chinese Cabbage, Mustard Greens, Scallions, spices, herbs and of course, the hand-made noodles. All of this is served in Beef stock.

In America, we may choose to serve Niu Rou Mian as a soup with a meal, but here in Taiwan it’s a meal unto itself. It is usually served in a large bowl with no other dishes. It is enough to sustain you. I like it best when the weather is cold and rainy. The hot delicious soup warms you up and takes the chill off, while the aromatic, spicy flavor clears your sinuses.

There are two varieties of Nui Rou Mian that are found in Taiwan. There is the version described above, this is the type most commonly found. But there is another type. The second version contains red pepper to make the meal spicy. The meat is sometimes stir fried in hot sauce. If you are person who likes spicy hot food, then this is the version for you. I like both types and eat both as often as possible.

Most convenience stores carry an instant version. In these, you add hot water and allow it to steep for a period of time. Both the spicy and regular versions are readily available. As with all preprocessed foods, quality is as variable as the number of brands that are available. But don’t misunderstand me; some of these are very delicious, with a flavorful soup and thick noodles. Of course, the beef in these is pretty scarce and the chunks are very small.

One of Bian Yi Liu's other tasty dishes:  Seafood Rice
There is a restaurant in Taoyuan, on Jie Shou Lu, called Bian Yi Liu. The restaurant has an interesting name. Bian is the surname of the owner’s wife. She's from Thailand. and you can see the Thai influence in salads; they serve a delicious papaya salad that is spicy and sweet at the same time. Yi Liu means first class. This small quiet restaurant is just that. They serve traditional Chinese foods in a friendly atmosphere. The owner, Martin, welcomes each guest to the restaurant and often serves you himself. If you’re an English speaker, Martin speaks English very well and will help you to decipher the menu. The restaurant’s specialty is Niu Rou Mian although they serve many tasty dishes.

I only found this restaurant because I’m a foreigner, who doesn’t read Chinese. It is located across the parking lot from a brand new building. I had seen that building many times and thought it might be a nice restaurant to take my wife for dinner. (It has that restaurant look, slanted walls, lots of greenery and large trees.)  So one night we ditched the kids and went out on our own, and I thought I’d surprise her by taking her to this beautiful new restaurant…except it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a place where they sold some new homes. They directed me across the parking lot to Bian Yi Liu, where I was delightfully surprised.

If you are around Taoyuan, you may want to check it out: Bian Yi Liu, Jie Shou Lu, 459, Taouan City, (03) 362-7968. Tell them that you saw it in The Taiwan Adventure Blog, or that Chris sent you, or better yet, email me and I'll go with you...your treat.   .By the way, I wasn't paid for this shameless plug.

Other posts you might be interested in:

Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
Cultural Unawareness:  Cultural Explosions
Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  A Traditional Restaurant

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