The mass of Taipei's steakhouses can leave carnivores with feelings of quiet desperation.
Most smother their rib eye and T-bone in unappetizing choices of black pepper or mushroom sauces. This is a travesty, but ask to hold the sauce and you'll find that the meat tastes equally unpalatable. True, places like Noble Family steakhouse offer a free trip to the salad bar. But you'd get a better result if you spent the money they charge per meal on a good cut of meat and cooked it yourself.
Fortunately for steak lovers who don't have time to cook and can't afford Ruth's Chris, Bull-Demon-King offers tasty meals for very reasonable prices at two locations off Shida Road.
Both are owned by Huang Jong-hsiang (黃榮祥), 50, who opened the first, a stall on Longquan Street in the Shida night market, more than 20 years ago. Even in hot weather, the stall is always packed at dinnertime, with customers jostling elbow-to-elbow at small folding tables as they wait for sizzling meals.
The night market location has become so popular that Huang opened a fancier sit-in Bull-Demon-King four years ago off Shida Road on Alley 49. There's air-conditioning here and the menu is more extensive, with side dishes like salad and puff pastry soups, along with additional main courses like a shrimp platter (蝦排, NT$240). The restaurant pulls in between 200 and 300 customers per day.
Huang chooses his cuts of beef himself, removes the tendons and bones, and marinates them for six hours, leaving the steaks tender and juicy. When a customer orders a meal, the steak is fried until nearly well-done, then dropped on a sizzling iron plate along with spaghetti and a raw egg, which cooks in seconds. Hold a napkin in front of the skillet because the meal will still be cooking when it comes to your table.
But the real difference is in the marinade, said Huang, when asked why his night market stall and restaurant are so popular. He studied Western cuisine in chef's school and invented his brew — an orange concoction containing chicken bones, onions, carrots, pepper, garlic and bacon — after much trial and error.
Because most of Bull-Demon-King's customers are students, prices are very reasonable. The generously portioned fried chicken cutlet costs NT$120 at the night market and NT$140 at the restaurant. A filet mignon (菲力牛排) meal will set you back NT$220 at the night market, or NT$280 at the restaurant. Each comes with sides like soup and tea at the outside location, or soup and salad in the restaurant.