Fans of daoxiaomian, or knife-cut noodles, will want to add 93 Taohsiaomien (93刀削麵館) to their list of places to go. This small and clean shop, located a block behind the Sheraton Hotel on Zhongxiao East Road Section 1 (忠孝東路一段) in Taipei, is a reliable neighborhood standby for northern Chinese-style noodle dishes, boiled dumplings and scallion pancakes.
It’s hard to go wrong with 93’s specialty, tomato broth beef noodles (番茄牛肉麵, NT$120), though I prefer the plain tomato soup noodles (番茄麵, NT$80), which hits the spot for taste and texture. The tomato broth is tangy with a hint of sweetness, while the knife-cut noodles are thick and have the “QQ,” or chewy, firm texture that lovers of this Shanxi staple will appreciate. Have a bowl with a fried pork chop instead of beef (番茄排骨麵, NT$120) or go all out and have tomato and beef broth with pork chop (番茄牛湯排骨麵) for NT$130.
If this sounds too hearty for summer, you can always replace the knife-cut noodles with rice noodles (冬粉) at the same cost, or do without the soup. 93 offers a respectable version of the classic moo-shu stir-fried noodles (木須炒麵, NT$85), which is made with the standard ingredients, including scrambled egg and “wood ear” mushroom. Add pork to the mix for an additional NT$50, or beef for an additional NT$10.
The stir-fried noodles are only available at dinnertime and Saturday lunch, but for non-soup options, there’s always zhajiang mian, literally “fried sauce noodles” (炸醬麵, NT$60).
The typical Shanxi-style noodle joint in Taipei is usually a rundown affair, with the cook stationed at the shop front, whittling away at a block of dough, as chunks of noodles fly into a vat of boiling water. You won’t find this novelty at 93, which has a typically drab, but squeaky clean interior, complete with fluorescent lights and a flatscreen TV on the wall. It seems well-suited to the clientele. You’ll see moms with kids in tow, stopping in for a quick after-school dinner, as well as civil servants and staff workers from the nearby Executive Yuan, who stand out with their neatly pressed black slacks, short-sleeve white button-down shirts and black loafers.
Another reason to come to 93 is the shop’s tasty scallion pancakes (蔥油餅, NT$30), which are made fresh from scratch. An order paired with tomato soup (NT$55), the same broth used in the noodle soups, makes for a nice light meal for one.
The restaurant also offers a dish you don’t often see at beef noodle shops: chaobing (炒餅) is like a noodle stir-fry except that the noodles are replaced with scallion pancake sliced into thin strips. The polite waitresses will warn you the dish takes a bit longer to prepare, but it’s worth the wait.
At NT$95, the chaobing with chopped beef (牛肉炒餅) is a great deal for a filling meal. A friend of mine who goes there regularly thinks the shop should be charging NT$20 more for it. He thinks it’s that good; I like it but find it a tad too salty. A vegetable chaobing (蔬菜炒餅, NT$85), which comes stir-fried with cabbage and scrambled egg, is equally satisfying. This dish is only available in the evenings and for Saturday lunches.
One last recommendation: If you get a cold appetizer (NT$20), go for the chopped eggplant, which is fried to a light, crispy golden brown, chilled and then served with a delicious garlic soy sauce.