Sunday, June 26, 2016
Hanlin Tea Room (II): Vetting The Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
After my first visit to Hanlin Tea Room I couldn't let more than a week go by without returning to try the Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup. TWBNS is a noodle soup genre with a cult following that I'm always looking to collect more data points on; I've never been to Taiwan (or Monterey Park, for that matter) and I would like some day to have confidence in my ability to recognize a "good" Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup when I see (and taste) one. Since Hanlin Tea Room is a Taiwan-based chain of some note, it was reasonable to assume it might provide a clue or two.
When my soup arrived, I was surprised (but not disappointed) to discover that it came with the same Iron Goddess Tea-infused noodles that I went the previous week to investigate; a discussion with my then server had left me with the impression that the TWBNS came with conventional (wheat only) noodles. The noodles rested in a dark, tomato-less and beefy broth that inched toward the spicy, rather than the medicinal end of the Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup broth spectrum, but not so much as to cause discomfort for any but the most spice-averse slurpers. The cushion of noodles supported a full meal's worth of meltingly tender chunks of beef brisket with just enough fat on them, as well as some slices of carrots and daikon radish.
Where slurped: Hanlin Tea Room, 809 Kearny St., San Francisco