[Taipei, Taiwan] The queue for Ah Zong Mian Xian (or Ay Chung Rice Noodles) 阿宗麵線 was long in the past, but it had extended to a lengthier line with a throng of crowd surrounding the shop at Ximending.

If there is a list of “10 Must Have Food From Taipei”, this will be a shoo-in for one of the spots.

Every time I come to Taipei and if I make it to Ximending, I would have a bowl of this Taiwanese style vermicelli, which the locals call Mee-Sua.

Ay Chung Rice Noodles has no tables to place your food. No chairs for you to seat.

You will just see lots of lots of people surround the shop, one hand holding a big bowl, the other slurping furiously. And for me, also wiping my sweat away if it is in summertime.

In winter, it would be a totally shiok feeling.

Surprising, while there were at least 40-50 people in front of me, the line cleared fast. Within 10 minutes.

The changes over the years: Prices have gone up to NT$50 and NT$65 (SGD2.30 and SGD3.00 respectively for the small and large bowls.

(The uniforms, I noted, have changed from a white to black polo. Probably looked ‘cleaner’ as the servers normally would have brown gravy on white.)

If you are saving space for other street food, get the small bowl of comfort. If this would be your first time, experience the large bowl in its fullest glory. Then find a standing corner to slurp.

Do not miss the condiments corner where you can add combinations of 3 sauces of vinegar, chili oil and garlic, which could elevate the taste even further.

The chilli oil made a whole lot of different, but go easy on the portion (half a teaspoon will do?) as it could be extremely spicy.

Compared to other Taiwanese mee sua which would probably include oysters, Ah Zong’s version had large intestines which were soft yet chewy.

The gravy looked like a gooey mess, but taste-wise savoury-spicy goodness with silky thin vermicelli. (Disclaimer lah: Mian Xian is really not everybody’s cup of tea, especially if you are not comfortable with pig’s intestines.)

However, I did feel that Ah Zong did taste much better in the past, and had somewhat gotten more diluted.

You can find Ah Zong at Xi Men Ding 西门町 (E-mei street across rows of sports shops), Zhong Xiao Fu Xing 忠孝复兴 (behind Sogo) and Shilin Market 士林夜市. Xi Men Ding is the branch most would go to.

Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線 – Xi Men Ding
No. 8-1 Emei Street, Taipei Wanhua District, Taipei City (East XMD Pedestrian Area, Xi Meng Ding Station Exit 6)
Tel: 02 2388 8808
Opening Hours: 10am – 10:30pm (Mon – Thurs), 10am – 11pm (Fri – Sun)

Ay-Chung Rice Noodles – Xinyi
No.2, Lane 17, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City

Ay-Chung Rice Noodles – Shilin Branch
1F., No.24, Lane 101, Wenlin Rd., Shilin District, Taipei City

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