★★★ Sandie's Gourmet - Seattle
Sandie's Gourmet is a hole in the wall type of small restaurant that serves a variety of traditional Taiwanese food. I came here after being referred here because of its great Taiwanese ramen. The owner of Sandie's had a sucessful ramen shop back in Taiwan, she recommended the 川味牛肉麺 (Szechuan style beef noodle soup) so I gave it a try.
The Soup - is a lively combination of rich beef broth, Chinese spices, a slight tanginess, and the steady burn of red chile peppers. I am guessing that they use quite a bit of different vegetables in their stock (tomoatoes, celery, & ginger) that adds more of a sweet and tangy hint to the soup. The spiciness is noticeable right away but doesn't escalate too much. Everything is well balanced and delicious.
The Noodles - are medium thickness straight noodles. Slightly on the softer side but firmer than some other Chinese style noodles.
The Toppings - are many slices of stewed beef and a lot of coriander. The stewed beef is tender with quite a bit of tendon on them giving them a slightly crunchy texture. The slices of beef are wonderful, embodying all the flavors of the soup. Ask for the coriander on the side if you are new to this ramen though.
Overall - one of the best beef noodle soups I have had outside of Taiwan. The type of flavor that helped the owner of Sandie's sell an average of 250 bowls of this ramen a day back in Taiwan. Until I find something better, I will return here anytime I want some really good beef noodle soup.