阿宗麵線 Ah Chung Mee Sua @ Ximending, Taipei
Like many other Asian cities, Taiwan is known for their street food. Everywhere you go, there would be food stalls, tucked within the small alleys and lanes which would offer something to go. The fast pace lifestyles folks in Taipei lead often meant that they have their meals on the go, from takeaway buns, soya bean milk and sandwiches at numerous 早餐店 like 永和豆浆 or 美而美 to takeaway paper bento boxes containing 排骨便当 or 鸡腿便当。 Come nightfall, one of the favorite pastimes of Taiwanese is to visit the local night markets (夜市) which offer a wide range of local delights like 蚵仔煎 ((oyster omelette), 鱿鱼羹 （cuttlefish soup)， 生煎包 （shanghainese pan-fried steamed buns) and the bewilderingly named 大肠包小肠 and 大饼包小饼! One of the iconic dishes in Taiwanese street food is their mee sua, rice vermicelli cooked in a thick starchy broth and of all the outlets around, the most visited is probably 阿宗麵線 Ah Chung Mee Sua at Ximending, Taipei.
Mention Ximending and several signature food joints immediately come to mind. 老天禄 which sells braised every-duck-part-thinkable and 鸭肉扁 which sells goose and not duck despite its name! 阿宗麵線 is yet another popular shop visited by both locals and tourists from all over. The place is always crowded with folks slurping and savoring their signature mee sua. There are two varieties of mee sua in Taiwanese street food, one with oysters added called 蚵仔麵線 or in the case of Ah Chung, braised large intestines. Despite the popularity of the first, large intestines are actually more challenging and time-consuming to prepare, requiring one to invert, rinse and wash the large intestines to remove whatever remnants of what the pig was eating before it was slaughtered. Yes, the oyster version tastes great of course, each dollop packed with umami flavours but for many foodies, large intestine mee sua is really the one worth eating.
The shop along 峨眉街 (E’Mei Street) is crowded all day long, standing, seated or even squatting as they enjoy a piping hot bowl of mee sua.
Ah Chung’s prices have elevated quite a bit over the years. Yet the shop still remains immensely popular.
Only a few things are needed to create a bowl of comforting goodness, especially when the weather is chilly. A splosh of vinegar, a small handful of Chinese coriander and a sprinkling of ground pepper helps to complete the dish. 红麵線 （red mee sua) is used instead of the thinner white version which we are accustomed to cook at home. The former is thicker and more resilient towards prolonged cooking.
As people moved on as swiftly as they’d finished their bowls, more would come by making the place even more congested.
So if you have not had a chance to eat Ah Chung Mee Sua before, I would encourage you to to try it the next time you are in the Ximending area in Taipei. Do not anticipate for it to be astoundingly delicious and out of this world. It is after all peasant food in the past. But on a cold and rainy day, when you are in need of something to warm your tummy, it must just be the thing you need and gratify you to no ends.
阿宗麵線 Ah Chung Mee Sua
8-1, Éméi St, Wanhua District (Ximending), Taipei City