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Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面) is a dish originated from China, consisting of thick wheat noodles topped with a mixture of ground pork stir-fried with salty fermented soybean paste (zha jiang, 炸酱). The sauce is similar to a bolognese sauce – except that this does not have tomatoes in them.

In Taiwan, majority of zha jiang mian appears in street side stalls and cheap eateries. But there is this particular restaurant, Shuang Ren Hsu Noodles & Bar (双人徐概念店), who aims to be a little different – providing LV style Zha Jiang Mian.

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双人徐 was founded in 2009 by the Hsu brothers, Chris and Walter. The recipe originated from their Grandma which has a Shandong homemade taste. The recipe was passes to the Dad and he will cook it for the family. The brothers hate it because their Dad will cook a big pot of it and they have to eat it for a week. One day, one of the brothers decided to share it with his friends and surprisingly, everyone gave very positive feedback.

It was a big push for them. After testing and finalizing the recipe for 6 months, they launched their online website selling vacuum packed Zha Jiang Mian. After building a steady customer base for 4 years, they opened this flagship restaurant last February.

Walking into Shuang Ren Hsu Noodles & Bar, the high-ceiling space and minimalist design make me relate to a Western cuisine restaurant concept. Never will I expect it to sell Zha Jiang Mian! As you can see, all cooking process are done in a open kitchen concept which gives diners a dazzling visual feast in addition to the enjoyment of taste.

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We had the SRH Individual Set Meal (NT$680) which begins with 3 appetizers. This is not salted vegetables. This is Pickled Green Mango! It is a private dish of Hsu’s dad. The mango slices are marinated with sugar, garlic and vinegar for a long time. Unlike the Thai version of mango salad which is spicy, this pickled green mango has a hint of sour and sweet taste, which is very refreshing!

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Mushroom Salad has oyster mushrooms and lean meat slices, drizzled with sesame.

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Their Braised Beancurd & Peanuts is rather unique. Using organic tofu, they used dry marination method to marinate the beancurd. That is, to cook the braise sauce (lor) till it is very thick and concentrated, put the beancurd in and manually shakes it until the flavour is well absorbed into the beancurd. That will usually take about an hour.

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Here comes the female main lead: Minced Pork and Tomato Sauce Noodles! It sure looks like something which can be done at home, isn’t it? But in fact, much consideration has been put in to make this dish.

Firstly, they specially use thinner noodles so that the bolognese sauce can be better mixed with the noodles. Secondly, their homemade tomato paste uses 2 kinds of tomatoes. The bigger tomatoes (牛番茄) is blended into a thick tomato sauce while a small version of tomatoes (黑柿番茄) is cut into cubes and mixed with the sauce. Recommended to pair with a glass of Torres Vina Esmeralda 2010 white wine.

I appreciate their effort to go into the details of the tomato sauce and it is definitely rich with an added bite from the lean minced pork. Recommended to pair with a glass of Torres Vina Esmeralda 2010 white wine.

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Intermission time offers a cup of roselle flower tea to clear taste buds, before the main lead of the show arrives! Jeng Jeng Jeng Jeng: ZHA JIANG MIAN!

Everyone has their own special way of preparing it. The key to the flavor of this dish is the meat sauce that tops the noodles. At SRH, they has specially ordered minced meat with 90% lean from Costco. Thicker noodles are used instead of the thinner ones.

To fully enjoy the noodles, it has to be mixed immediately when it reaches your table. If you wait till the noodles turn cold, they are all going to lump together. It was thick, slightly sweet and strongly flavoured, lightened up by the cucumbers. Don’t forget to take a sip of Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec 2011 Red Wine for a more holistic dining experience!

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A surprise dish to the set menu is this Garlic Pork. They use 松阪豬 (Matsuzaka Pork) instead of the normal pork belly, so it has a better crunch! Simple seasoning yet it completely brings out the flavour of each ingredient.

And after that, a bowl of chicken soup and fruits are served to end the meal.

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In SRH, they created two kinds of chilli sauce. One is their signature Chilli Oil (招牌辣油) which used 5 different types of chilli to create and Garlic Chilli Sauce (蒜香辣醬) which has garlic and bean paste.

When the signature chilli oil is added to their Dumplings (ala carte order, not in the set), it is heavenly. In fact, I feel this is the best dish for the day. They ensure that the prawns in each dumpling is 6g, nothing less than that.

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They have a selection of wine for you to pair with your dishes. The bistro also offers the noodles in vacuum packages where you can buy and enjoy it at home!

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The idea of having street food in a high class setting is definitely not an idea welcome by some of us. Just like when our local chicken rice or laksa is sold in high class restaurants, there are two extreme reactions to it. Some enjoy the change while others don’t.

But for the couple bloggers Maggie and Rudy (right), they certainly enjoyed it, hence they recommended it. Read about their reviews here. And the man with the thumbs up sign is Chris, owner of Shuang Ren Hsu. It was definitely a pleasure to meet them.

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SRH also offers alfresco dining and it is specially popular during dinners. So reservations are recommended.

Here is their feature on 中天新聞 last March!

Shuang Ren Hsu Noodles & Bar (双人徐概念店)
Address: 台北市內湖區民權東路六段186-1號 (Directions: Alight at 文德站 and take a 5 mins cab)
Tel: 02-2794-8566
Opening hours: 11am – 2pm; 6pm to 12am
Website: http://www.shuangrenhsu.com/

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* Food for Fun (食在有趣) gourmet tour is proudly organized by iSee Taiwan Foundation. Only airfare, hotel accommodation and selected meals are sponsored.