For a bowl of soup to get the nickname the “King of Asian Noodles,” it would have to be pretty fantastic right? And people would need to fully believe it for a very long time, like hundreds, or even thousands of years?
There is such a soup with that impressive title, and it’s being made as well as anywhere in the world right here in Vancouver.
Beef noodle soup is a delicious combination of soft and tasty meats, rich and complex soup, and tender, smooth noodles. These three elements are essential, but it still needs to be made with great care to be worthy of its impressive title.
To make authentic beef noodle soup means honouring thousands of years of tradition, and RedBeef Noodle Kitchen in Vancouver does exactly that. They know where it came from, everything it’s gone through, and what it takes to make it perfect today.
There are two forms of beef noodle soup that are by far the most popular. The oldest of the two, the Lanzhou beef noodle soup, is literally based on an ancient recipe. The Hui people of the Tang dynasty developed this style of soup in 618AD. It features a clear broth and remains hugely popular today.
The second form of the soup — and the most popular version — is an evolution of the ancient Lanzhou beef noodle soup. The change happened in the 1950s in Taiwan, when chefs began using Sichuan-style red-braised beef in the stew. They called it red-braised beef noodle soup or Taiwanese beef noodle soup (and it’s the style of soup you’ll find at RedBeef Noodle Kitchen).
Red-braised beef noodle soup has a much more aromatic flavour than its predecessor and features a delicate broth with a deeper red colour. This alteration is created through the use of Sichuan-style techniques, which is mainly the use of the red-braised beef in the soup, plus mildly spicy red bean paste for a rich hit of umami.
So what caused this drastic change in the recipe in the 1950s? It all comes back to the Chinese Civil War. Like some of our favourite foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut, it was created through cultural hardship. Veterans from the province of Kuomintang Sichuan fled mainland China and ended up in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where cultures and ingredients came together to forge this soup we can enjoy today.
The Taiwanese people never really used to eat beef because so much of their labour was dependent on cattle. Over time, the soup grew in popularity; it’s even considered to be a major catalyst in breaking the taboo of eating beef in Taiwan. This opened the doors to accept other Western foods like hamburgers, and even used the new beef broth recipe as a base for many tomato, garlic, and herbal medicines.
This period of time enhanced a recipe that stood for thousands of years — not replacing it, but simply building on its history. For the last 70 years, Taiwanese beef noodle soup has become the most popular soup in Chinese culture, and RedBeef Noodle Kitchen continues that legacy today.
RedBeef Noodle Kitchen treats the making of this soup like an exquisite craft. The soups are patiently slow boiled for over 12 hours, using beef bones and a selection of Chinese spices. The meat is wok-cooked at high and braised at low temperatures, resulting in a delicately soft texture.
The noodles are skillfully prepared to be wonderfully tender and chewy. It all comes together in a steaming hot bowl of beef noodle soup, accented with sweet vegetable notes.
A dish with a history this long that has travelled across the world to get here deserves this level of care when preparing it. Taiwanese beef noodle soup has taken nearly 2,000 years to become what it is today. Don’t wait any longer!
Visit RedBeef Noodle Kitchen to slurp down a bowl of this historic soup for yourself.
Address: 1947 W 4th — Kitsilano
Address: 550 Main Street — Chinatown
Address: 81 6th Street — New Westminster