Beef Noodle Soup at Spices! + Stinky Tofus
I had really high hopes for Spices!, as it seems to be one of the few highly recommended places for Sichuan and Taiwanese food in the city. We made a track from the south bay to SF over the weekend and after 30 minutes of looking for parking, finally found a spot.
The place is small and the decors similar to a boba tea place, not as wild and crazy as expected. We had came purposely to try two of the specials of the house (and as mentioned on the outdoor sign itself): Ma La Cho Cho Guo (Stinky Tofu hot pot) and Taipei style Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodle Soup).
Also ordered were FuQiFeiPian (spicy beef/tenden/tripe cold plate) and deep fried stinky tofu.
The stinky tofu hot pot came on its own small pot with a burner on the bottom. It was not exactly same as those found in Taiwan. Instead of a soup based pot, the broth was extra thick with lots of broken bits of stinky tofu and a few big pieces. It reminded me more of Ma Po Tofu instead of a tofu pot. Due to the thickness, it was too filling and oily. (B)
The FuQiFeiPian was also mediocre. The pieces were small and uneven and the flavor not very pronounced. Better versions can be had at many Sichuan places in the south bay. (C)
The real disappointment was the Niu Rou Mian. The soup was very spicy which is fine, but the soup lacked any depth. The noodle was good, though not excellent. The worst part was the beef. Several normal pieces were ok but many were too tough. There were also at least 10 pieces of niu nan (brisket) skins pieces where were chewy. I probably left 2/3 of all the meat/nan skin behind. Not sure if they just ran out of the good pieces or if this is normal. Marina Market’s food deli gives better beef in their beef noodle. (C)
The fried stinky tofu was good but not the best either. (B) Better versions can be had at Joy” and Shinbala.
So overall a real disappointment. Perhaps Spices II has better food? We may try it again, but won’t be holding as much high hopes.