Technically, my first meal stop in Taipei was to the Da’an outpost of the famed Ay Chung noodle shop (阿宗麵線), near the Zhongxiao Fuxing metro stop. Ay Chung (or Ah Zong, in phonetic Mandarin) is well-known for its mian xian, a kind of rice vermicelli, in a thick, savory soup made from dried bonito, bamboo shoots, and pork large intestine (there are still chewy bits of the intestine in the soup, which added nice textural moments).
I didn’t have much of a point of reference, but the small bowl I had packed an immense wallop of flavor, a pungency that recalled and rivaled some mean ramen broths, which makes sense given the shared presence of bonito. The noodles are barely noticeable, almost disembodied, but this seemed appropriate; more weight would’ve distracted from the flavor rush. I further punished myself by adding small but potent doses of additional seasoning, especially the hot sauce, which unexpectedly hit me like a ton of bricks. I slurped my bowl to the gooey end, pausing to wipe the sweat dripping from my head.
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodles
No. 2號, Lane 17, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106