Given the choice between a warm or cold dish of the same kind, I will often default to wanting the cold version. I also love eating different types of noodles. It’s no surprise, consequently, that I love Taiwanese sesame paste noodles (涼麵 / liang mian). Liang mian is a cold dish that combines savory, sweet, and refreshing elements for a party in your mouth.

I’ve tried variations of liang mian at many different noodle shops. The best I’ve found in Taiwan, so far comes from Er Yatou Mala Liang Mian (二丫頭麻辣涼麵 / er ya tou ma la liang mian) in Chiayi City (嘉義市 / jia yi shi).

I visited the restaurant on a rainy day, so Er Yatou wasn’t too crowded. After walking through the kitchen, like so many other Taiwanese restaurants, we were quickly seated in the back. After ordering, we were given a few side dishes.

There’s a plastic display that contains a variety of dishes to choose from. Many restaurants in Taiwan actually do something similar where side dishes are available to be picked up. From the tofu noodle (豆麵 / dou mian) to lotus root (蓮菜 / lian cai), everything was delicious (好吃). The flavors were not too strong despite the name of the restaurant containing the word “mala” (麻辣) meaning hot and numbing.

Not too long after sitting down with our side dishes, the liang mian arrived. It consisted of a small pile of cold noodles topped with bean sprouts (豆芽 / dou ya), cucumbers (黃瓜 / huang gua), sesame paste (芝麻醬 / zhi ma jiang), and a white sauce that reminded me of mayo (蛋黃醬 / dan huang jiang).

The noodles were just right, or “QQ” (al dente), as locals like to say. The different sauces combined to create a complex but delicate flavor that was both familiar but unique.

To finish this otherwise great meal, we ended it with watermelon from Hualien (花蓮西瓜 / hua lian xi gua). It was the perfect finish to a simple yet amazing meal.

Wenhua Night Market is a short walk away, so if you’re in the area for the night market, don’t forget to drop by and get your liang mian on. I know I will want to go back.

二丫頭麻辣涼麵 (Er Yatou Mala Liang Mian)