Beef. Noodle.
October 20, 2009 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me figure out what this delicious beef noodle thing I ate years ago was?

I used to work at a PR firm at Vermont and K in DC. A tiny pan-Asian place opened up in the building next door for a brief, glorious couple of winter months. I used to go and get takeout to get through late nights.

My favorite thing was something they described as "beef noodle". That's it. It was a dark, silky, soupy stew with chunks of rich braised beef (something short rib-y) and wide, flat rice noodles. It had a complex, caramelized sweetness. There was a strong star anise flavor, ginger, maybe some lemongrass or something else citrusy. It was not spicy, and the broth was clear. I've been trying to figure out what it was for years, with no luck - so I turn to you, hive mind!

It was NOT: pho, bun bo hue, galbi jjim, or a curry. It was very straightforward: thick broth/braising liquid, very wide rice noodles (like 3/4"), beef. There may have been a garnish of herbs, but that was pretty much it.

This restaurant served mostly Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian food, if I remember right. But I never seem to find anything matching the description on appropriate menus, and it's been driving me crazy.

Do you recognize this delicious, delicious thing?
posted by peachfuzz to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup?
posted by watercarrier at 10:10 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is the first thing I thought of, pretty much what watercarrier said.
posted by mhum at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2009

Perhaps drunken noodles?

I LOVE the stuff.
posted by Pragmatica at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2009

Northern China has a large family of braised dishes called "Red Cooked [Insert Main Ingredient here]." The way I make them, they are pretty thick stews, but I don't know how authentic that is (I just like stews better than soups), and they could easily be watered down. I usually serve them with rice, but noodles would work at least as well. The braising liquid is usually made up of some combination of rice wine, soy sauce, hoisin, star anise, citrus peel, garlic, ginger, scallions, and spices. Could be a thin version of that. This is kind of what I am thinking of, but the sauce would have to be thinned and noodles added.

By the way, the "Red" in the title is the character for crimson, and indicates celebration. The sauce itself is various shades of brown.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:39 AM on October 20, 2009

I recall that there's also a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, although it often includes many other things which aren't braised beef and I've only ever had it with round noodles, but it does have a rather complex flavor.
posted by mhum at 11:14 AM on October 20, 2009

I am almost certain the restaurant you are referring to is Nooshi. I dont know what the dish you are reference goes by but it sounds like its northern Chinese.

Anyways, if you are actually talking about Nooshi, you could call and ask.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:58 AM on October 20, 2009

If it is a Northern Chinese based recipe, it's possibly on A&J's menu. A&J is a Northern Chinese restaurant/chain with locations in Rockville and Annandale, so it isn't the place you went to, but they do have many soups.

As watercarrier and mhum have stated, it sounds like "niu rou mian" (beef noodles) which comes in two varieties: "hong shao" (spicy thick broth) and "qing dun" (clear consomme-like broth) as stated on this page.

I know from experience they have both thick and thin noodles, though being Northern Chinese, they'd be wheat- and not rice-based. I'm guessing you had the "hong shao" version since you describe a thick broth, though, since it was pan-Asian, I'm sure other spices found their way in.
posted by Fortran at 12:29 PM on October 20, 2009

It's most definitely Taiwanese Beef Noodle.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2009

Sounds a bit like a delicious dish I had in China called la mian. It had long flat noodles, a delicious clear broth, and chunks of meet (usually mutton, but other types were available). It was from western China, though, so the location doesn't sound quite right, but you'd probably like it in any case...
posted by losvedir at 3:16 PM on October 20, 2009

la mian is not typically made with rice noodles. The noodles are usually made of wheat flour.
That being said, it's freaking delicious, and some of the varieties (they're endless) resemble what you've described.

Another possibility is a dish that is usually called "cinnamon beef noodles".
posted by kaiseki at 2:24 AM on October 23, 2009

Is it at all possible it's a variation of Lad Nar?
posted by scrim at 7:36 AM on October 23, 2009

I am inclined to agree with the people saying "Taiwan-style beef stew noodles" as the clear, caramelized broth with anise flavor and cubes of braised beef are characteristic of this dish. It's usually spicy (chili oil on top) but it could of course be made non-spicy. It's typically served with a green vegetable and some sort of hearty rice noodle, such as in this photo.

I also agree with posters who mentioned Northern-style Chinese food. The hand-pulled noodles associated with Lanzhou (la mian) are generally served in a clear beef broth, and anise (or at least fennel seed) is also a very popular flavor associated with food from that region.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:28 PM on October 24, 2009

Response by poster: hmmmm. I think Taiwaneese beef noodles just might be the thing. Thanks, AskMe!
posted by peachfuzz at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2009

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