My first blog post of 2013 is an addendum to my last post of 2012 (continuity matters, right?) -- a followup visit to the long- neglected (by mwe) Tea Garden on Mission Street. My mission on Mission Street today was to check out the second beef noodle soup on the menu, the "boiled beef without soy sauce" option. It became clear it was to be a "clear" broth version of a Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup when the cashier/mama used the word "qing" in relaying my order to the chef/papa of the establishment. .
What came to me was a bowl of what seems to be a Taiwanese take on a Lanzhou-style beef noodle soup. The round "la" style noodles. basic clear broth, thin slices of chewy beef brisket and profusion of cilantro were all reminiscent of the many bowls of "Lanzhou Zheng Zong Niu Rou La Mian" I've has in Shanghai. Whats different was the inclusion of large chunks of luobo (a. k. a. daikon), said to be a Taiwanese touch, and the use of black pepper as the most prominent seasoning, so much so that it could be justly called "black pepper beef" noodle soup. It's worth noting that the broth seemed mild and characterless at the outset, but by the time I got the the bottom of the bowl I was getting serious black pepper heat from it; I realized that I had once again forgotten the advice of a wise noodle mentor: "Always remember to stir the noodles; there may be a depth charge of flavor lurking."
Overall, it was an ample and tummy-pleasing cold weather lunch, but the clear broth lacked the brightness I associate with Lanzhou-style soups, and on a return visit my preference will be for the "with soy sauce" (red-cooked) version I previously reported on.
Where slurped: Tea Garden, 515 Mission St., San Francisco
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