By Maggie Hiufu Wong
TAIWAN (CNN) — In a city where a bowl of noodles doesn’t usually cost more than $6, a shop in Taipei has been charging $325, or TWD10,000, for its beef noodle soup — and diners are happily paying for it.
Beef noodle shop Niu Ba Ba, founded in 1990 in Taiwan, serves just eight types of beef noodles — ranging from the classic Beef Father Beef Noodle Soup ($16) to the most expensive — the Presidential Beef Noodle Soup ($325).
“The price of our cheapest noodles seems astronomical to some,” says Eric Wang Yiin Chyi, second-generation owner of Niu Ba Ba. “But our way of making beef noodles differentiates us from others.”
Each bowl of soup features at least four different types of premium beef cuts from the United States and Australia. Only the best and well-marbled cuts — such as ribbon steak and ribs — are used in the Presidential Beef Noodle Soup.
Beef is braised and frozen for three days before being cut in a specific shape to achieve the perfect texture and flavor.
Six stocks are blended to complete the broth. Five types of noodles can be paired with different options and preferences, allowing diners to customize their orders.
Wang: We do the opposite of what others would do
The shop has amassed a large following and attracts travelers from around the world. But success didn’t come easy.
After spending more than two decades in Canada, Wang Tsung Yuan — the original founder of Niu Ba Ba and Eric Wang’s father — decided to return home to Taiwan and open a beef noodle shop in 1990.
“The flavor wasn’t quite right for the taste of the people in Taiwan then and business looked bleak,” Wang tells CNN Travel. “My father’s partner backed out after just 11 days.”
Determined to create the world’s best beef noodle soup, Wang Tsung Yuan spent years refining the recipe.
Unlike most businesses, as Niu Ba Ba’s clientele expanded, the shop shrank. In 2007, Niu Ba Ba moved to a new but smaller location.
“It seats about 18 to 20 customers at most,” says Wang. “We were less likely to focus on perfecting each bowl of noodles if there were more customers. It’s quality over quantity.”
The shop’s been serving Presidential Beef Noodle Soup for about 20 years but the staggering price tag was only finalized in 2007.
“The price tag was left blank for almost 14 years — we asked customers to pay what they thought it was worth. Many said they were willing to pay TWD10,000 for the noodles. And in 2007, we decided to make that the official price.”
Wang recommends making a reservation two days in advance.
So after a lifetime of eating noodles, has Wang grown tired of slurping back the Taiwanese staple? Not a chance.
“My father and I are both huge fans of beef noodles,” he says.
“When eating out, we still order beef noodles wherever we can. We even order beef noodles when dining in Din Tai Fung — the [Michelin-starred] restaurant that’s only famous for its xiaolongbao.”
Niu Ba Ba, 149, Section 6, Minquan East Road, Taipei City, Taiwan; +866 287917187
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