Ay Chung Noodle and Taiwanese Small Eats
Ay Chung Noodles is a Taiwanese small eats restaurants which already has chains in the L.A. area, and which itself originates from the XiMenDing (West Gate District) of Taipei, an area famous for stores for young people and popular small eats places.
The day before the official grand opening last Saturday, I had a chance to eat there and on subsequent visit I tried several items.
Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodle) – Although not its specialty, I wanted to see how they make this classic dish. The bowl was small compared to other bay area places. The noodle was normal and not as chewy, which is as expected as its not their specialty. The broth is rather rich and little bit oily. It was not bad but just a bit too sweet. The cubes of beef were excellent, however. It was good quality shank/tendon meat braised to perfect tenderness. (B+)
Eh Ah Jian (Oyster Pancake) – This was very good. Lots of fresh oyster and a good balance of eggs vs. flour. Only thing is I would ask for the sweet, red sauce on the side as it almost overwhelmed the pancake itself. (A)
Tong Zai Mi Gao (Bamboo Cup Rice)- This was ok. Not my normal item. Similar to the ZongZi without the leaves, there was rice and various fillings. The meat was overcooked and the overall taste a little bland. (C)
Ay Chung Mian Xian (House Special Thin Noodle) – This is the dish by which the restaurant is named. However, it was just average. It is a Taiwanese special thin noodle (similar in shape to the mi-fun/rice noodle, but brown color) and is cooked with pork intestine in a thick porridge like broth. The “broth” broke down pretty quick and the flavor was not very distinct for a “mi sua” dish. (C+)
Rou Geng (Meat Stew Soup) – This was also average. The meat was tender and good, better than those I’ve tried elsewhere. But the stew was not thick enough and became too watery as well. (B)
Overall this place is still worth exploring, for they also have other classic Taiwanese small eats such as Ba Wan (Meat Ball), varieties of Rou Geng (meat stew soups), and even Pork Chop and Chicken Thigh Rice plates. I should also mention that this place is fast-food style: order and pay first then sit down and they bring you the food (by your number). And during these first few weeks of opening, the lunch lines can almost stretch to the outside. It is located in Milpitas Square.