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"Cow Boss Knife Cut Noodles" is my own translation of 牛老大刀削麵, the Chinese name of the shop.

I went here a bajillion times because I lived not too far away. It was always busy, but never to the point where you had to wait in line, or anything like that.

They specialize in knife-cut noodles, as the name suggests. Knife-cut noodles, or dao xiao mian, are made by taking a block of dough and slicing the noodles directly into the pot.

Knife-cut noodles have always had a special place in my heart because my grandfather always made noodle soup in exactly that way. He didn't cut the noodles on a board or put them through a pasta machine etc. Cutting the dough right into the boiling broth gives the noodles a special texture that has to be experienced.



Here's one of my typical student dinners, and it's making me homesick. (Yeah, I consider Taipei my heart's home.) If you squint at the receipt, you might be able to barely, barely make out that I ordered a large bowl of their standard, the beef noodle 紅燒牛肉麵. It cost me $120NT, or about $4 at the exchange rate back then. Probably more like $3.75 now.

Whatever you order, of course, comes with unlimited cold black and barley tea and, IIRC, a small bowl of soup. I usually drank the barley tea.

The plain beef (what I usually ordered) is very lean, so if you like more tender beef, you should pay a little extra to get tendon meat. Which... hm... yeah probably most Westerners are a little off-put at the idea of saying "I'd like to eat some tendon!" Honestly the texture overwhelmed me a little bit when I first tried it. It's got that melt-in-your-mouth fat, instead of marbling. Taiwanese in general like fat on their meat more than modern Americans. Taiwanese chicken tastes better... brace yourselves... because the chickens are fatter. Ditto for pork, folks. I heard fellow former Taiwan people lament that meat in the States just isn't the same... while they reach for skinless chicken breasts with a sticker on them proclaiming how lean they are! Fat. It tastes good, yo. What a concept.

Anyway. This place also sells wontons, chow mein, fried rice and meat on rice, dumplings, and stir-fried year cake, which OMG I want some RIGHT NOW. I may have to see if either of the two Taiwanese restaurants in Pittsburgh make it.

Hmm, anything else... oh, I guess I should say, the entire menu is in Chinese, and nobody there will speak English, so you might want to print out some Chinese to take with you. I'll translate some key phrases here and you can pretty much mix and match.

紅燒 - hong2shao1 - "red cooking" (broth, ie, primarily meat flavored)
番茄 - fan1qie2 - tomato (broth)
牛肉 - niu2 rou4 - in this context, lean beef ($100NT small bowl)
牛筋 - niu2 jin1 - beef tendon ($120NT small bowl)
半筋半肉 - ban4 jin1 ban4 rou4 - half tendon half lean beef ($110NT small bowl)
麵 - mian4 - noodles
湯 - tang1 - soup (without noodles)
素 - su4 - vegetarian (there is no vegetarian knife-cut noodles, but there are vegetarian fried rice and fried year cake)
飯 - fan4 - rice (in this context, that means plain rice under a piece of meat or whatever)
炒麵 - chao3 mian4 - fried noodles (chow mein)
炒飯 - chao3 fan4 - fried rice
水餃 - shui3jiao3 - dumplings (you buy them $5NT per each, or about six dumplings per US dollar)
湯餃 - tang1jiao3 dumplings in soup
抄手水餃 - chao3shou3 shui3jiao3 - stir-fried dumplings
餛飩 - hun1tun1 - wonton
排骨 - pai1gu3 - ribs
豬腳 - zhu1 jiao3 - pigs' feet
雞腿 - ji1 tui3 - chicken drumstick
木須肉 - mu4 xu1 rou4 - moo shu pork (yes, moo shu pork is really Chinese)
炒年糕 - chao3 nian2gao1 - fried year cake
大 - da4 - large
小 - xiao3 - small
碗 - wan3 - bowl

Hmm, that will cover most of the menu (and actually be helpful for a lot of places). For example, if you want vegetarian fried rice, take "vegetarian" and add "fried rice" and you get su4 chao3 fan4 素炒飯. If you want a bowl of tomato half-tendon half-beef noodle soup that's fan1qie2 ban4 jin1 ban4 rou4 mian4 番茄半筋半肉麵! And say you want a large bowl, da4 wan3 大碗. Obviously, some things don't go together, for example, you can't get ribs with your wonton soup. But I hope it's a little helpful.

THIS IS A SUMMARY:
Name: "Cow Boss Knife Cut Noodles" 牛老大刀削麵
Location: 42 Longquan St, Da'an, Taipei 台北市大安區龍泉街42號
Prices: $60-150 NT ($2-5 US)
Service: Busy, busy, busy. Don't make them wait.
Food: Satisfying, hearty portions of good Taiwanese food. Yum.
Recommended?: Worth a visit, but not worth going out of your way for, perhaps. I was a regular here, but I lived close by.
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