When you do one dish for the last 50 years, you can only perfect it with practice. Many go to 阿宗面線 because of the fame. But I would recommend Chen’s Oysters Noodles 陳家腸蚵專業面線, a store known only to the local connoisseur.
Oyster noodles (蚵仔面線 pronounced as ô-á mī-sòa) is a unique street food that can be found in every night markets in Taiwan. The quality of a bowl of oyster noodles depends on the size and freshness of the oysters, the taste of the large intestines, and the rice noodle 面線 made by hand. The stock is usually made from boiling lots of big bones with bonito flakes. After putting in the seasoning that is the secret of every store, the noodles can then be considered complete.
Chen’s shop is very interesting. The logo is 嫦娥 Chang’e, the legendary fairy that flew to the moon after taking the elixir pills. It is a play on the sound of Chang’e 嫦娥 and the Taiwanese accented Mandarin pronunciation 台湾国语 of 肠蚵.
The noodle of Chen’s is cooked using firewood for a consistent temperature, and their stock has dried shrimp in it for that extra umami. There are noodles, large intestines, oysters, minced garlic and parsley in each bowl. Say you order, and what do you not want in the final product. You will be amazed by how the staff remembers all the customisation in rapid successions.
The oysters are plump and fresh. The big intestines have been stewed before hand in a five spice braise. The tastes for each – the umami from the oysters and the savoury intestines – do not crash but complemented each other. Together with the satisfying stock thickened with potato starch and the chewy rice noodles, it is a meal in a bowl. Be aware the garlic can be overpowering, so you might want to skip that before a date or an important meeting.
Judging by the crowd lining up in front of the store from opening until the last bowl is sold, you know its popularity, especially they have no franchisee or a separate branch. They open around 10am (the timing is not specific, they open only when the noodles are ready), and close when the last bowl is sold at around 5pm on a weekend. You have better chance on a weekday, you can get still get one if you are lucky at around 7pm.
Chen’s Oysters Noodles 陳家腸蚵專業面線
No.166, Section 3, Heping West Road, Wanhua District, Taipei