Believe it or not, you can go out to eat beef soup at 4 a.m. in Tainan. You might wonder why this particular dish is served at this particular hour. Is it to service early-rising construction workers?
Maybe it’s because this is when the bars let out? Well, these people may be able to benefit from the goodness at this ungodly hour, but the reason beef is available so early in the morning has more to do with the supply than the demand. Cattle slaughter is done in the middle of the night in Tainan County and shipments arrive at various establishments as early as 4 in the morning. Some of these establishments open their doors when the beef first arrives to provide salivating carnivores with the freshest beef imaginable. For those city-dwellers who like their meat straight from the cow, it’s worth getting up early for.
One of the few places in town who offer this service is Ah Cun Beef Soup on Bao An Road near the corner of Guohua Street. Bao An Road is a narrow old street that runs parallel with Fuqian Road, starting from Ximen Road and extending to the canal. You can find lots of traditional eateries up and down this street. Ah Cun Beef Soup is just a simple little roadside stall with a couple fold out tables, but as is traditional with the culture here, it’s all about the food. This little shop has been around for two generations of owners, so they know their beef.
There are a few varieties of beef soup (niúròu tāng 牛肉湯) available as well as other beef dishes such as beef fried rice (niúròu chǎofàn 牛肉炒飯) and beef fried in sesame oil (máyóu chǎo niúròu 麻油炒牛肉). Dishes of sliced beef in a soup broth and a side of rice go for about NT$100. There’s no English menu or spoken English here, but pointing and grunting always works.
You don’t have to wake up at 4 a.m. to enjoy the food here. They have a split schedule offering morning and evening service, and the beef is still pretty fresh in the evening.