I feel badly writing about a Taiwanese restaurant that does not have an English name nor a site in English for my readers since majority of my readers hail from the US. The restaurant name, 十三香精緻麵食麻辣火鍋牛肉麵, is a long description of what they served; it means 13 flavors fine noodles, mala hot-pot beef noodle soup. Yeah, not terribly marketing friendly nor is it easy to recall. Mala is a description for level of spiciness; the literal translation is numb and spicy. The sauce originated from the Sichuan region of China.
十三香精緻麵食麻辣火鍋牛肉麵, 13 Flavors, is located in Taipei, on Heping East Road, between the National Taipei University of Education and my summer residence. My daughter and I walked by this restaurant twice a day for 20 days this Summer. Below is the evidence of sampling two of their finest noodle soup dishes. This is the mala beef noodle soup with half beef cubes and half tendons麻辣半筋半肉麵. I grew up with beef noodle soup. One of the few fond memories I have with my father is going to a neighborhood beef noodle shop in Kaohsiung 高雄市, where the sunshine filled the open-air restaurant, time stopped and all demands and expectations disappeared. It was just my father and his little girl each eating a big bowl of noodle soup in silence. This is the shredded pork with pickled cabbage noodle soup 榨菜肉絲麵, my daughter and her father’s favorite noodle soup. I was there in the country of my birth, after being away for decades, eating a big bowl of noodle soup with my little girl in silence. In that broth, I saw the reclaiming of my heritage, the passing of my heritage to her, and the intricate relationship between a mother and a child who takes after her father.
13 Flavors is popular. Restaurant is open only at night which is a rare occurrence in Taipei; Taiwanese people have a very strong work ethic and often work around the clock. When we walked by, the restaurant was always filled with diners. 13 Flavors certainly charged enough for two bowls of noodles. The beef was $190 TWD or a little more than $6 USD. The pork was $100 TWD or a little more than $3 USD.
How was the food, you may ask, since this is the primary focus of this blog? It was okay, I believe. The broth for the beef was decent but not special. My daughter gave the pork broth a thumbs up. I would say that the noodles were pedestrian for this level of restaurant and service – better than noodles from the street stands and the night markets yet they were nothing special. But I strongly suspect that I am biased in this view. The memories of childhood and the philosophical question of whether we repeat the mistakes of our parents are what dominated in my thoughts.
This experience took place at
No 48-6, Section 3, Heping East Road,
Phone:+886 2 2733 8986