Until the Capital Region gets its own ramen joint, we'll settle for Taiwan Noodle. It's not the chew we're still dreaming about from our ramen trip to Portland's Pai Men Miyake but a bowl here is cheap, filling, and definitely better than the instant ramen packet sitting in your cupboard. At $6.95 it's a steal for this stewed pork belly bowl with bok choy and soy egg. The broth is light and clean, without being too heavy. It's not heavily spiced or as complex as a pho or ramen broth but a spoonful of this stuff is welcomed with the cooler weather rolling in.
For a different take on a noodle dish, try the spicy noodle bowl with meat. Think of it as the Taiwanese version of spaghetti bolognese. It was a little on the bland side this time but there's something about the textural contrast between the bean sprouts, noodles, and sweet and spicy meat sauce all mixed together that's enjoyable. Don't forget the small bowl of broth that comes on the side. I have no idea if you're suppose to slurp alongside or add to your noodles but a few spoonfuls of this oniony broth in between bites broke up some of the heat.
Taiwan Noodle has a number of sharable small plates too. You'll find typical dim sum items like soup dumplings and scallion pancakes but I convinced J to try the pig ear. You gotta love weird textures to like this. My love of this stuff comes from my childhood memories of my mom making homemade headcheese with pig ears. Served cold, it's fatty, gelatinous, and slightly crunchy from the cartilage but packed with flavor from being stewed in five spice seasonings. If pig ear isn't your thing, there's also pork stomach and stewed pig feet. Don't be afraid of these cuts; they're some of the most delicious bites!