Let us find out secrets behind Dan Zai Noodles, an old soul handed down over a hundred year.【Auntie’s Story Time IV】
It was really tiresome and exhausting because your father needed to learn everything and to get ready to inherit family business. It wasn’t easy enough to stir-fry minced pork to your grandpa’s standard. Also, your dad needed to learn ladling out noodles and preparing ingredients, etc. He really learned everything under lots of pressure.
Hsiu Hung: How long did he take to reach grandpa’s standard?
Auntie: From learning to stir-fry at the age of 12 to 20 something before marriage, it was 10 years or so.
The origin of customization
Hsiu Hung: I heard that grandpa was good at memorizing. He always remembered regular customers’ preferences.
Auntie: Whenever they came, your grandpa always remembered to add vinegar or garlic. Noodles or rice noodles, etc.
Hsiu Hung: Wow, grandpa put emphasis on customer relationship management. After all, he built up business on his own. So he took good care of customers’ preference details. Were there anything that impressed you? Or were there any challenging parts?
Auntie: In fact, there was no particularly challenging parts. I believe we had good fortune. Everything went on smoothly. Most of our customers are very supportive since we insist on good quality. So our customer base is very stable.
chrysanthemum, shrimp broth, and braised Duck’s eggs all on a shoulder pole to the shop.
Then, I would make fire and boil water. Afterwards, I’d boil shrimp broth and minced pork to the boiling point. Only after all these works could I start to sell noodles.
Hsiu Hung: So you did all the works, selling noodles, checking orders, serving and so on. Customers surely felt surprised when seeing you doing all those things.
Auntie: You bet. So customers would ask me about my age. Then, when I said “I am 12 years old”, they were all surprised and said “Wow, you sell noodles yourself at the age of 12?! You are really something else!”
Hsiu Hung: Were there any customers that impressed you?
Auntie: Well, I don’t recall any of them. Our customer are simple-minded and many of them are decent. They won’t cause any troubles. Oh, there was once a customer causing troubles. After 10:30 p.m., the late night movies ends and I went home because there was less customers. Your grandpa continued working till 1:00 at midnight. There was a drunk customer who kicked over our shrimp broth and minced pork. He burned his feet at last.
Hsiu Hung: It’s really hard running a business!
Hsiu Hung: I heard that there were many Japanese government officials coming to eat. Did you happen to meet them?
Auntie: Well, yes. Like majors or other government officials coming to Tainan, they’d be treated here. And they all missed our Dan Zai Noodles. So your grandpa developed canned minced pork and sold them with noodles. After WWII, Japan surrendered at discretion and Taiwan's sovereignty was passed from Japan to the Republic Of China. Many Japanese tourists would come visit Tainan and bought our canned minced pork.
Hsiu Hung: Oh right! I also know that many students studying in Japan will come buy our canned minced pork so they can put it on rice. It reminds them of hometown.
From the first-generation descendant Hong, Yu-Tou’s succession, the second-generation descendant Hong, Zai-Lai’s struggling, the third-generation descendant Hong, Zhen-Ming’s business roots planting, to the fourth-generation descendant Hung Hsiu Hung’s business expansion, we all witness the evolution of Du Hsiao Yueh.
The following are excerpts from a conversation between Mr. Hung Hsiu Hung and his auntie. Let us dig out the origin of Du Hsiao Yueh.
A family with an old person has a living treasure of gold. Du Hsiao Yueh has many treasures and one of the most important treasure is the third-generation descendant Hong, Zhen-Ming’s older sister. From the second-generation descendant Hong, Zai-Lai’s struggling, the third-generation descendant Hong, Zhen-Ming’s business roots planting, to the fourth-generation descendant Hung Hsiu Hung’s business expansion, Hong, Zhen-Ming’s older sister witness the evolution of Du Hsiao Yueh. She is a real living treasure of gold. The following are excerpts from a conversation between Mr.Hung Hsiu Hung and his auntie. Let us find out the secret behind Dan Zai Noodles.
Everything starts from carrying a shoulder pole
Hsiu Hung: I remember that Du Hsiao Yueh is founded by great-grandfather who carried a shoulder pole. So rough and difficult! Auntie, how old did you start to help out family business?
Auntie: Since I was 12 years old. Your grandpa (Hong Zai-Lai, the second-generation descendant ) opened a store at Zhongzheng Road. After your father bought a house, our shop moved to a lane beside Zhongzheng Road. Zhongzheng Road was crowded with people. A small bowl of noodles wasn’t cheap but there were still lots of customers supporting us for the good taste.
After military training, their unit waited for the boat to the battle. Nevertheless, Japan surrendered at discretion and Taiwan's sovereignty was passed from Japan to the Republic Of China afterwards. So your grandpa did not leave Taiwan at all. He rent a store to sell noodles and it went surprisingly well .
Hsiu Hung: A journalist called Chen, Feng-Yuan wrote about our Dan Zai Noodles back at that time. He thought that Du Hsiao Yueh is very different from other noodle stands.
Auntie: Definitely! We prepare best ingredients for our broth and minced pork without adding any unnecessary ingredients. That’s why customers can have the real taste of them.
Hsiu Hung: Chen, Feng-Yuan thought that Grandpa was dedicated to serve the best Dan Zai Noodles!
Noodles that carry an old soul
Auntie: At that time, whenever I went to help out, I would smell the aroma of minced pork right at the intersection of Ximen Road and Zhongzheng Road.
Hsiu Hung: When I was little, I still remembered that as long as we started to cook minced pork, the whole street were filled with wonderful aroma of it. All neighbors lifted metal buckets to buy the gravy!
Auntie: Well, no. Your grandpa cut them with a cleaver on a thick wood cutting board. Whether pork skin or ground pork, he cut them himself.
Hsiu Hung: Besides minced pork, we also put some shallots. Did we buy premade ingredients?
Auntie: No, we also cut it ourselves. Daughter-in-law like us have to cut shallots till we drop tears.
Hsiu Hung: But you didn’t have gas back then...Did you start a fire in wood stove?
Auntie: Yes. We bought lonan wood to make a fire. Like the old house on Zhongming Street, we put woods into the stove and cooked on the stovetop.
Auntie: Yes, it is. Minced pork is the soul of our Dan Zai Noodles. It takes lots of skills to stir-fry.
There is another important ingredient: soy sauce. Without good soy sauce, there will be no good minced pork.
Hsiu Hung: For example: how to marinade and the aroma of cooing. They all matter.
Auntie: Besides, we don’t add any chinese herbal medicine like star anise into our minced pork. We just keep it simple.
Hsiu Hung: So customers can have real taste of it.
Auntie: Exactly. With minced pork, scallions, soy sauce…
Hsiu Hung: ...and the skill of stir frying,
Auntie: We can determine cooking methods judging from the process of cooking and make the best Dan Zai Noodles.
Goodoo Puppet Troupe proudly presents time-honored brand history of Du Hsiao Yueh by traditional glove puppetry. Lively exhibit at Taipei Yongkang Store from March 1st.
The bowl of Dan Zai noodles, that carries Du Hsiao Yueh’s glorious history over a hundred year.
Du Hsiao Yueh’s Voice of Culture aims to introduce Taiwan’s local artists. In 2018, we invite Tainan’s Goodoo Puppet Troupe to present Du Hsiao Yueh’s a-hundred-year history of development by traditional glove puppetry. We present you “Puppet Art with Du Hsiao Yueh’s a hundred-year history” in diverse ways: traditional glove puppet shows, micro movie, and photography exhibition in the hope of introducing Tainan’s Du Hsiao Yueh and traditional puppetry to all of you.