There’s no denying the popularity of beef noodle soup (牛肉麵) in Taiwan, and in the bustling Taipei City, there are countless places where you can get the dish adored by almost everyone. Clear, braised, fusion – there are lots of different styles and preparation of beef noodle soup. If you ask a random stranger on the street for the best, most likely each will tell you something different. But if you are looking for something unique, you can’t go wrong with Lin Dong Fang (林東芳牛肉麵), one of the most established names in Taipei.
The first thing anybody notices on their first visit to Lin Dong Fan is the appearance of the restaurant. A tremendously old shop that is sprawled across three old shops, it seems Lin Dong Fang never bothered with renovating or improving their decor. It’s all about the food here. You can call it a hole-in-the-wall, traditional, old school, or even janky, but there’s no denying that there’s magic happening in the kitchen!
Lin Dong Fang is serious about their beef noodle soup. With your first sip of the broth, you instantly notice the unique flavors. Made with a medley of herbs, the broth is somewhat clear and clean, with a distinct herbal flavor and nothing like the traditional beef noodle soups. The best part though, is definitely the chili oil mixture, or “beef butter”. You can determine how spicy and how oily you want your soup to be. Add a little scoop and just watch the mixture melt into your soup, giving it more depth and flavor, and a bit of a kick. The chili oil mixture is supposedly made with chili, oil, beef fat, and stock, but for those trying to replicate it, the ingredients are a closely guarded secret.
Beef here is cut against the grain and braised for so long it almosts melts and falls apart in your mouth. Not too fatty and not too lean, it is the perfect match for the amazing broth. The noodles are in a league of their own as well. They have a handmade quality to them and are cooked by experienced cooks to that perfect “Q” texture that Taiwanese people love. The noodles are thick and wavy and pick up flavors from the broth easily.
Lin Dong Fang is a tried and true favorite and has maintained a popularity that few can rival. Expect to wait around an hour around lunch and dinner time. But if you find yourself with a late night craving, you’re in luck – Lin Dong Fang stays open late, at times even until 5am! It’s not surprising to see the after-party crowd here clamoring for a table to satisfy their hunger. Where else but Taiwan can you find a beef noodle soup place that is busy all the way into the wee hours of morning?