I hit up Taipei’s famed Yong Kang Beef Noodle (永康牛肉麵) Shop to find out if it really is all it’s cracked up to be.
A slight buzz surrounds the queue that stretches beyond the yellow, and slightly grimy shopfront of what is widely known as one of Taipei’s best beef noodles. From the looks of it, dinner starts early at Yong Kang’s (unexpectedly) small shop.
Yong Kang Beef Noodles sits in the region between hotspot Shida Night Market and popular cafe hopping district Da’an, where Pica Pica Café is located. Eschewing the usual Din Tai Fung – Taipei 101 combination that most travellers took, we went looking for Yong Kang Beef Noodles for dinner, right after a walk through Shida Night Market.
The hype surround this place was pretty obvious. Various TripAdvisor and blog reviews came up, and even Google Maps recommended the place, so I was rather sceptical about the whole thing. After all, how good could it be if the restaurant had to serve tons of people every night?
Down to Earth
There’s no coddling done in this packed space. You follow instructions when it comes to seating, make decisions quickly and try your best to get out of the way when food is being served.
While it doesn’t seem very sexy, Yong Kang Beef Noodles more than makes up for it with its highly approachable menu. It’s a simple one-size fits all kind of menu. You’re presented with a few noodle choices, some side dishes and drinks. We sat down, and quickly ordered some key items that all the online reviews mentioned.
Fast and Furious
Let’s start with the Fried Pork Ribs that hit our table while the oil was still bubbling on the skin. Now, they didn’t squeeze out the excess oil from these deep fried pieces of meat. So, while it’s got a thin breading that had the potential to be crunchy, the tragic post-frying mistreatment ensured a lack of crunch. However, it helped to lock the moisture of the meat within it’s casing, giving the meat a juicy bite. It could have been so much more, but it’s serviceable.
We also ordered some dumplings. They were serviceable, but nothing to shout about.
Now, the Spicy Beef Noodles are the main event for most diners at this establishment, and I have to say that this bowl of noodles was every bit as good as they said it was. The key here isn’t the beef, it’s the soup stock. It’s got that beefiness that comes from long hours of cooking, and a saltiness that isn’t overwhelming. The “spicy” part of this dish isn’t jarring as well. Rather, it’s a gentle spiciness that makes an appearance mid-swallow. The beef is tender, and you have the option of adding other parts like tendons or stomach. I recommend going for the full works with this dish.
The Anti-Din Tai Fung
Yong Kang is the exact opposite of Din Tai Fung, in the sense that it’s just less manicured. The menu is smaller, and more focused on beef noodles and you won’t have the luxury of time or comfort of customer service. But Yong Kang makes up for it in down-to-earth charm and ease of eating. You won’t find Xiao Long Baos that require 3 steps to eat, but you’ll definitely find comfort in slurping down a hot bowl of beef noodles. Plus, that Taipei 101 Din Tai Fung queue is only for the most serious of Din Tai Fung fans.
So, if you’re looking for a solid bowl of Beef Noodles with a legit heartlandish Taiwanese-style setup, Yong Kang Beef Noodles is your place.
Address: No. 17, Lane 31, Section 2, Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 11am-9pm