NOW OPEN AT HELLO PANDA FESTIVAL
Four Four South Village Brings
Old-School Taiwanese Flavor to Flushing
Digging into beef noodle soup done the old-fashioned way.
BRONX TIMES REPORTER,BTR JANUARY 24-30, 2020 57
Years ago, the stretch of Prince Street in downtown
Flushing two blocks south of Northern Boulevard
was home to a pretty good Taiwanese beef noodle
spot called Happy Beef Noodle House. And then for a
decade more, the block — which has housed everything
from a Cantonese restaurant to the storied Nan Xiang
Xiao Long Bao — was bereft of the comfort food many
consider to be the national dish of Taiwan.
Tai bei nou rou mian, a bowl brimming with noodles
and beef stew often scented with star anise, was said to
have been invented in the juan cun, or Chinese military
dependent villages of Taiwan. Four Four South Village
Taipei Beef Noodles, which opened in October, takes its
name from just such a settlement.
One of the first things I noticed about Four Four
South Village, apart from the retro decor featuring vintage
Weixing radios and a soundtrack of chestnuts like
Teresa Teng’s “Wo Yi Jian Ni Jiu Xiao” was how springy
the noodles were. They maintained a nice slightly al
dente texture throughout an entire slurping session.
Take your seat at Four Four South and the server
will bring over a cup of tea, a dry erase marker, and
a menu with check boxes. A roster of 10 varieties of
beef noodles soup — including basic braised beef
noodles soup ($11.95) and spicy beef noodles soup
($12.95) — headlines the menu.
On both of my visits I checked box 113: braised
beef, tendon, and tripe, a trifecta known as hong shao
niu san bao mian in Chinese. Almost every other beef
noodle parlor I’ve visited uses shin meat, but Four
Four South opts for “rib finger meat” or the meat
between the ribs. The rib meat, wobbly bits of tendon,
and slightly funky tripe proved fortifying along with
the broth. The latter, while quite beefy, was also distinct
from other beef noodle restaurants in that there
was no aroma of five spice whatsoever.
At first I thought it was a mistake, but owner
operator Johnny Lin — yes, that’s right, Four Four
South is a chain — says his beef noodle soup made
from a stock of beef, chicken, and veggies that cooks
for eight hours is an old-fashioned recipe.
“A lot of people tell me this is the real flavor,” Lin said
adding that he once encountered a Taiwanese patron in
his seventies weeping into his noodles.
The story goes that when his staff asked the man if
he was okay he responded by saying he was overcome
by emotion since he hadn’t tasted old-fashioned beef
noodle soup for 50 years.
I didn’t see any such display of emotion on my visits
to Four Four South, but I did witness plenty of patrons—
old and young—enjoying those springy noodles
in the hearty soup, whose flavor is rounded out by fermented
bean, chili, and a touch of pickled greens. Four
Four South goes through 5,000 pounds of noodles a
month made. They’re made especially for the restaurant
at a factory in New Jersey. Lin says it took the operator
three tries to achieve the desired texture.
Many Taiwanese are big fans of chou dou fu — or
stinky tofu — but not Lin, who is glad that the Four
Four South opted to feature braised tofu ($6.95)
cooked in soy sauce. It’s a nice accompaniment to a
bowl of old school beef noodle soup.
By the way, if you are not in the mood for beef
noodle soup, the restaurant offers another great way to
combat the wintry chill that has New York City in its
grips: sesame oil chicken soup with vermicelli ($12.95).
Cooked with ginger, goji berries, and rice wine it is
revered as a post-partum meal. Good medicine indeed.
BY JOE DISTEFANO
As the Culinary King of Queens, I’m so
very fortunate to live in the most diverse
and delicious destination in all of New
York City. Really I’m not royalty though,
I’m an ambassador, and a hungry one
at that. Today, a trip to Taiwan via
downtown Flushing to savor old school
Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Four Four
Chicken and sesame oil soup with ginger and
goji berries is good medicine.
Address: 38-06 Prince Street,
Flushing, NY 11354