The Taiwanese are crazy about beef noodles. So crazy, in fact, there's actually a Beef Noodle Festival held in Taipei annually to celebrate the soupy bowl of bovine goodness. It's so beloved I think it might very well be Taipei's national dish. Like chicken rice in Singapore, there'll be a million different people who will swear a million different beef noodles is the "very best one in Taipei".
Together with Lin Dong Fang, Yong Kang St Beef Noodle is the other reigning bigwig in the Taipei beef noodles guild. Similarly old-school, Yong Kang St Beef Noodle is distinctive, plainly by the snaking line sported at its eponymous locale.
As with all the other Taipei establishments we visited, the queue moves fast. The Taiwanese are a considerate lot; there's no dilly-dally-ing after a meal is scoffed down. Not while there's a bunch of people waiting their turn outside the restaurant. There's no need either, unlike in Singapore, for hungry would-be patrons to stare daggers at any dawdling diners.
We also found service in Taipei to be irreproachable. Even at the most decrepit and cramped of stalls, when business is a-roaring and staff are evidently frenzied, service was unfailingly patient and nice. I floundered through my orders in Mandarin, asked a gazillion questions about the dishes, changed my order halfway, and had special instructions to hold off, you know, the usual parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions (they call them "xiang1 cai4" and "qing1 cong1" in Taiwan), and the waitress actually told me to take my time. Then she scurried off to take another's order before returning to take my order. Fat chance you'll ever get that in a hawker centre in Singapore.
Stunningly amazing service aside, I wasn't as ga-ga over Yong Kang Beef Noodle as Lin Dong Fang. The Beef Noodles (NT$220 for small) was a perfectly lovely bowl of wholesome mellow soupy goodness, but it lacked the exquisite nuance of the one at Lin Dong Fang. Though, the beef, thicker dice cuts of Australian meat, possessed more heft. The noodles here were also less chewy, but more ramen-like in its softness.
The Spicy Beef Noodles (NT$220 for small) packed an eye-watering heat, but like the non-spicy version before, it was missing that something-something Lin Dong Fang had.
We also supplemented with a bowl of Spicy Dumplings (NT$120) which tasted as rustic as it looked. Not the best I've ever had, but it was decent.
The resaurant facade for reference. You can't miss it, what with its big honking yellow signage and scarily long queue outside.
Yong Kang Beef Noodle
No. 17, Lane 31, Section 2, Jinshan South Road
Da'an District, Taipei
Tel: +886 2 2351 1051
Open daily from 11am to 9pm