If it were not for the Taipei Beef Noodle Festival 2005, currently being held by the Taipei City Government, which runs until Sept. 24, many diners may never have heard of a fascinating restaurant called 688 Beef Bowl, as it is hidden down a quiet street in the busy eastern district of Taipei.
The festival, taking the popular local delicacy beef noodle soup as its main theme, has seen Tony Wang (王聰源), owner of the restaurant, appear on several TV talk shows in recent weeks commenting on the success of 688 Beef Bowl.
Tony's daring pricing strategy, charging customers as much as NT$3,000 for a bowl of beef noodle soup when the average noodle restaurant charges around NT$120, has aroused much curiosity.
Tony's restaurant is plain-looking both inside and outside, and makes one wonder whether Tony's deeds are worthy of his words, or rather his prices. However, he has been running the noodle shop at the same location for the past 16 years, whereas some 30 similar restaurants within a 1km radius of his neighborhood have all closed down.
His business received a lot of publicity in 1999 when he and his wife Jan decided to offer the shockingly expensive NT$3,000 beef noodle soup. Since then, as Tony proudly points out, he has served nearly 4,000 bowls to patrons.
There is a good reason why the soup prepared by Tony tastes superb and costs the earth. He uses 7.8kg of beef tendons to make three servings of beef essence.
The extract is then deposited in a small stainless steel container and frozen. Tony then removes the top two layers of frozen beef extract to make the soup. Then the stir-fried beef is cooked in the extract before being served with noodles. Each finely chopped piece of meat is extremely tender and is marvelously rich in taste. No artificial additives are used in Tony's soup.
Tasting is believing and it is no wonder that most of Tony's clientele return to his restaurant for more beef noodle soup.
In addition to beef noodle soup, Tony's restaurant offers other choices for diners on a budget. A lighter version of the NT$3,000 noodle soup costs NT$200, or a serving of delicious pig trotter noodles can be had for the same price.
To end a meal at Tony's restaurant, Italian cream cheese or Canadian almond jelly would be an excellent choice for dessert. Overall, the food is very appetizing and delightful in this clean, quiet and lovable restaurant.