Yes, it's that time o’ year when we celebrate the luck of the Irish with shamrocks, green beer, and Irish beef stew. But—let's be honest—that stew can be a bit bland. This year, I’d like to introduce some Sichuan flavors to the traditional Irish festivities. And that’s where the classic niu rou mien or beef noodle soup (considered a national dish of Taiwan) comes into play.
Similarities between the two Irish and Chinese comfort dishes are obvious in their ingredients: beef (usually the shank or short rib), tomatoes, enough garlic to peel paint, and a rich beef broth. The Chinese tastes, though, infiltrate when shaoxing wine, star anise, dried red chiles, soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, ginger, and others join the beef stew soirée. The addition of fresh wheat noodles will make you forget about all of those soggy potatoes.
Reseda’s Tampa Garden Chinese Delight restaurant is an unlikely San Fernando Valley strip mall gem in which to find beef noodle soup. Though it's so far removed from the niu rou mien epicenter of the other Valley of San Gabriel, it’s here under the name “spicy beef hand-made noodle soup.”
Tampa Garden Chinese Delight’s beef noodle soup hits all the right notes. Laden with supple, savory beef shank and swimming in a vibrant, salty-cinnamony broth, this beefy bowl is intoxicating. Throw in the Q-y and chewy noodles—each hand-made strand has its own texture—and you’ll be happier than a leprechaun at a rainbow’s end.
A side of this sour preserved veggie contrasts with the sweetness of the soup, enhancing all the flavors. It’s tasty enough to make you want to dance an Irish jig.
Tampa Garden Chinese Delight, 8241 Tampa Ave., Reseda, 818-349-2221.