Friday, December 03, 2010

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Best noodles in Taipei: Ay-Chung's flour rice noodles 阿宗麵線

12/03/2010 Taiwan Explorer
Probably best and the most famous noodles in Taipei, since 1975.

Ay-Chung's flour rice noodles or Ah Zong Mian Xian (阿宗麵線, pronounced ā zōng miàn xiàn, literally meaning Ah Zong's line noodles) is a popular food stall in Ximending, Taipei. They serve very thin rice noodles (or vermicelli) in a soup with bits of pig's intestines. The recipe is simple, yet unique. This is how the noodles are described on their website: »An unusual taste in an usual snack is the key ingredient! Actually, the silk-like thin noodle, stewed with large intestine and dried bonito of pleasant smell, sliced bamboo shoot, to be taken with a pinch of parsley, basil and Ay-Chung specially-made chilly sauce, everyone addicted to the taste, even the most picky gourmet.« (Read more about that here).

This noodles bear a special place in my heart, because they were the first real Taiwanese dish I ever tried. It was the day I arrived in Taipei, when my lovely girlfriend brought me to Ximending and told me I have to try these noodles, because they were one of the best and most popular in Taipei. It was a rainy evening and I needed to eat something to warm me up, so of course I couldn't decline a bowl of a warm soup. My taste buds had not yet switched from European to Asian food, however I loved these noodles instantly. The taste was mild, yet memorable. The noodles soft and blending perfectly with the small pieces of pig's intestine, which at first I had no clue what that meat was. My girlfriend told me what it was at the end and I was really surprised, that intestines can taste so well. Sure, they were a little chewy, but really a little (unlike the usual pig skin and ears Taiwanese eat at various hawkers).

You have to try these noodles, if you come to Taipei, because I know you will go to Ximending. The are may not be famous for amazing food, but a bowl of Ah Zong's silk-line noodles is a must. Last time I was there, they cost 45 TWD, which is about 1 euro (small bowl, bigger is 60TWD). If you buy a bowl, it's big enough to share it with someone. The stall is so popular, that you'll usually have to stand in line for few minutes, there are always huge crowds of people, because the noodles are massively popular, also with tourists. And when you eat, you will have to stand, don't expect seats and tables, because the soup is just a snack. Enjoy!

People queueing for a famous the noodles, some eating it already.

The thin rice noodles being put in the bowl.

That's a big bunch of noodles. Yummy.

You have various sauces to add to your soup, like soy sauce, garlic, vinegar and chili.

And here they are: The famous 麵線 or "line noodles". Super-delicious!

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