Hoshina 穗科 (tpe)

Udon noodle making, from start to finish, all is hand-made.
Udon noodle making workshop, from start to finish, all is hand-made. (Both Marukame and Rakurakuan are using machines for the last step of cutting the noodles.)

As the unfounded French saying goes, jamais deux sans trois, in other words, never two without three. So let I, do a third udon restaurant review, and end the streak here or I’ll make myself sick of it if I keep writing about it.

This actually dates back to last summer, when I was frolicking around Taipei. After crashing an afternoon and enjoying a coffee cocktail at Gabee in the Songshan 松山 district, I made my way out, back to the the closest YouBike station. Unfamiliar with the area and too lazy to double check the path online, I walked around, following random streets, confident that I’d eventually find my way. It was late in the afternoon, and a few restaurants were already starting to prepare for the evening shift.

Walking by Hoshina 穗科, I felt like a piece of a Japanese garden had been transplanted into this residential area. With a zen garden in front of the restaurant, and the neat and tidy noodle workshop behind its huge glass window, it gave the place an appeasing atmosphere. However, I had other plans for dinner, so I snapped out of my daze, jotted down the name of the restaurant, and rushed to the YouBike station to avoid competing for a bike with the working crowd getting off duty.

Upon inquiring about Hoshina online, I found out they had a second location in the Da’an 大安 district, closer to my stomping ground, so I sneaked it on my schedule for the following day.

4rht in line does not sound too bad, except when the first round of customers have all gone in, assuring a 30 minutes wait, if not more.
4rth in line does not sound too bad, except when the first round of customers have just all gone in, assuring a 30-minutes wait, if not more 囧.

Just like the Songshan branch, the Hoshina in Da’an also welcomes customers with a zen garden, and the udon making workshop right by the entrance, a great spectacle to attract curious hungry souls, and convince them to go in or get in line. However, the zen aura quickly vanishes as soon as you step in, greeted by an energy-full staff clamoring a welcome greeting. If you happen to sit nearby the entrance, and tend to enjoy a quiet meal, you may consider bringing some earplugs. Next time, I should record whatever it is that they are shouting at the top of their lungs, and use it as my wake-up morning call, it will be efficient, for sure XD.

Popularity oblige, lines quickly form on the weekend, while weekdays are more laid back, with people coming and leaving at a smooth pace such that there’s never too much waiting to do. The minimalist vegetarian-only menu makes for an headache-free decision-making process. They have a cold and hot udon category, a variety of cold side items, and a few desserts.

Cold side dishes to whet the appetite.

The block of black sesame tofu, looked intriguing, with each bite packing a rich aroma of black sesame, maybe too rich for my liking. I remember telling myself that I wouldn’t order it again, but looking again at it now, my senses are once again captivated by it.

The udon noodles here are served thinner for the cold dishes, there’s a plain option for dipping, and other choices accompanied with colorful garnishes. Of the few times, I’ve had the cold udon at Hoshina, it did fail me once, with a more rigid than usual texture which took away from the chewiness, but still, that hasn’t deterred me from coming back. The hot broth udon, on the other hand, has always delivered, loaded with a colorful array of vegetables and big cubes of tofu floating atop a serving of thick udon noodles. The end-product is fulfilling and delicious just as is. At Hoshina, meat is superfluous, something all vegetarians can rejoice about.

Alright, no more udon talk for another while ;). There’s still a lot more places to explore in  Taipei, not as many in Kaohsiung, so I’ll have to dig harder for it.

Name: Hoshina 穗科
Website: http://www.hoshina.com.tw, fb
Additional Reviews+Photos: wp/taiwanaut, pixnet/ukmybaby
Price: ~200NT+ (10% service fee)
Menu: Chinese only, but menu with pictures.
Locations & Business Hours: check company’s website

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