Sun, Sep 25, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Beef noodle cook-off attracts a herd

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two westerners eat beef noodles outside the Red House Theater in Hsimenting, where the 2005 Taipei Beef Noodle Festival was held yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

A month-long Taipei Beef Noodle Festival ended yesterday with an intense cook-off in front of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and 100 judges who then faced the tough job of voting on the "most creative beef noodle."

The Taipei Beef Noodle Carnival got underway at 9am yesterday in front of the Red House Theater as the 30 top vote-getters in an online survey set up stalls to serve their specialities to a ravenous public -- with bowls costing just NT$50.

The festival's Web site attracted a total more than 140,000 visitors since its opening on Aug. 14, and nearly 20,000 cast a vote for their favorite beef-noodle shop.

Many of the people who showed up yesterday said they wanted a chance to compare beef noodles.

"I want to try their beef noodles and see what the No.1 beef noodles taste like. I don't mind waiting here for a while, and besides NT$50 is cheap for a bowl of beef noodles," said one woman as she lined up in front of the stall of the "Chuan Wang" beef-noodle shop.

The shop had garnered the most votes in the online competition.

As beef-noodle fans enjoyed the wide variety of offerings, the three cooks -- Liu Wei-jen (劉維珍), Lin Jiang-long (林健龍) and Lai Huei-chen (賴惠盛) -- who had impressed a panel of professional judges with their creativity in a series of earlier contests, got busy preparing ingredients for their specialities.

Ma and the 100 judges were served Japanese raman-style beef noodles with vegetables by Lin. Lai prepared a five-vegetable beef noodle dish and Liu's offering was cold beef noodles served in a cocktail glass.

Ma gulped down the three bowls and praised the Japanese ramen-style beef noodles for their refreshing flavor. He said he was wowed by Liu's cold noodles.

"The noodle is elastic but smooth, and the soup is light, different from the traditional strong-flavored beef noodle broth. It's very tasty," Ma said as he polished off the glass of noodles.

Liu was declared the winner.

"Most young people, especially women, watch their weight and want to eat healthily. So I use beef stock and serve it cold and light. I am glad that they like my creativity," she said.

The festival was organized by the Taipei City Government to promote the country's traditional culinary culture and help beef noodles regain their popularity. Pleased by the surprisingly success of the festival, Ma said that the city government would continue to promote different traditional Taiwanese dishes through similar events.

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