Bring on the beef noodles.
Some have called beef noodles Taiwan's national dish. Considering the cultural importance the Taiwanese place on food, this statement says quite a lot about this pretty humble dish. Every year Taipei hosts the Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival hoping to afford itself the title of "the world capital of beef noodles." The festival includes chefs from all over the world, but around Taipei, the real contest is about which noodle restaurant in town has the best bowl of beef noodles.
Even though 牛老大刀削麵, or Brother Cow, doesn't boast the latest noodle fest prize, it's menu does give a good mouthful for the money. The focus is on shaved noodles, which basically means they take a big mound of noodle dough and shave off long chunks of roughly cut noodles. This method makes for a particularly chewey texture that I really enjoy. The feature menu items are of course varieties of beef noodles.
For those unfamiliar with the term, "beef noodles" refers to a bowl of beef broth filled with sizable chunks of beef and noodles. Depending on the restaurant, the bowl will also include various types of leafy vegetables and spices. At Brother Cow, the main types of beef noodles are 紅燒牛肉麵, which has a medium- spicy broth and some greens; and 番茄牛肉麵, which is less spicy, adds tomatoes and some greens. All of the beef noodle options include the same type of beef chunks, which are tender and tasty, but do have a bit of fat and gristle.
Other good things to look for are the snacks, or 小吃, on display in a glass cabinet downstairs. The eggplant and dried tofu are among my favorites. If you're not in the mood for soup, try the stir-fried noodles --which is made with the same chewey shaved noodles, or the dumplings, which you can order at 5NT each.
This compact restaurant is a feature of the Shi Da area, and is particularly lively around lunchtime, which means you might find yourself dining with strangers. The prices are reasonable--most people can eat for less than 200NT, which is suitable for student budgets. Eat fast and enjoy!
Address: 台北市龍泉街42號 42 Longquan Road Taipei City
Metro: 台電大樓 Taipower Building
Phone: 02 2369 5591
Delivery is available. An English menu is also available.