Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Restaurant of the week: Akasaka Noodles 赤土反 拉麵

Address: 2F., 122-1 Chunghsiao E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei (北市忠孝東路4段122之1,2F)
Telephone: (02) 2752-0768
Open: 11am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$170
Details: No credit cards accepted. Picture menu

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

TV Champion noodles were a hit in Japan.

PHOTO: MAX WOODWORTH, TAIPEI TIMES

In the heart of downtown Taipei's upscale Tinghao neighborhood, it's hard to find a good meal without it costing an arm or a leg, or both. Akasaka Noodles provides a nice alternative to weary shoppers, especially to those who do a lot more window-shopping than actual shopping.

Akasaka Noodles is part of a chain that began in Japan when, in 1996, the store won the prestigious TV Champion cook-off. With the fame acquired on the nationally broadcast show, five more stores were opened in Japan, and two years ago a branch opened on Taipei's Tunghsing Street, followed a half year later by another on Chunghsiao East Road. The maxim "location, location, location" proved itself when Typhoon Nari destroyed the underground Tunghsing Street store. Now only the Chunghsiao branch (on the second floor) remains in Taipei.

Ramen may be an everyday staple in Japan, but to consistently make a delicious bowl of noodles requires an outstanding recipe and meticulous attention to preparation. Lucas Lin (林健龍), manager of Akasaka Noodles, says the store's Japanese owners are almost maniacal about maintaining the integrity of their ramen's flavors, and apart from the bamboo shoots bought in Taiwan, all other ingredients are imported from Japan. It must be said that their attention to detail serves the store well.

Akasaka Noodles serves 15 different types of ramen and one dish of rice and roast pork with a soft-boiled egg. Oddly, the ramen that won the TV Champion show is not among the most popular. Those honors go to the store's original flavor Akasaka noodles (赤土反 拉麵), the spring onion noodles (香蔥拉麵) and its miso noodles (佐藤拉麵). The noodles in each are wonderfully chewy while the stock is flavorful without being overpowering.

The TV Champion noodles (電視冠軍拉麵), however, should not be passed up if you enjoy a hearty bowl of ramen. The stock is thicker and rich with pork and chicken flavors and large chunks of soft, marinated pork help fill most any belly.

Akasaka Noodles ramens are priced between NT$140 and NT$250, which is a bargain considering their significant size. Soft drinks are NT$30, while Asahi beer is priced at NT$80.

One of the pleasant bonuses of a meal at Akasaka Noodles is its wall of bay windows that provides comfortable light and views onto the square near the intersection of Chunghsiao and Tunhua roads for some interesting people watching. But the ravenous slurping at the restaurant announce that the noodles are obviously the main attraction.

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