For a taste of everything, you can try their Signature Mix noodles where the broth is robust from a potpourri of about 20 herbs. — Pictures by Lee Khang Yi
Wednesday, 12 Oct 2022 9:18 AM MYT
PETALING JAYA, Oct 12 — Shen Niu may be a brand new place (they just opened last week) but it’s definitely stirred up quite an interest.
Located at the basement level of The Starling, they champion hearty beef noodles that are the perfect antidote for rainy days.
To be honest, when I saw the pictures on their menu, I actually thought they were serving Taiwanese beef noodles or niu rou mian. After chatting with them, it seems the menu was devised by a north-east China native. While there are similar elements with the Taiwanese version, their tangy, spicy chilli sauce to be eaten with the beef noodles gives it a different spin.
Anchoring the dish is their complex and rich beef broth — simmered with 20 different herbs — without any greasiness. What I also appreciated was how the broth had a balanced saltiness as I didn’t have to reach for multiple glasses of water after eating.
Select from a choice of springy ramen (lai mian) or smooth kway teow for your noodles. Apparently the ramen isn’t made in-house but supplied by their source who handmakes it.
The dry beef noodles is a delicious mix with their ramen noodles and tender chunks of stewed beef brisket.
Pair your noodles with various toppings like their braised beef, handmade beef meatballs, beef tendons, oxtail or beef shank. If you can’t decide, just order the signature mix: beef shin, tendon, tripe and the beef meatball for RM19.80.
The noodles are also accompanied by braised carrots. Prices range from RM18.80 to RM27.80 for your bowl of noodles. The braised oxtail and braised beef shank are the priciest bowls.
What I enjoyed was their braised beef. It may look dry but the meat is braised in the stock that gives it a tender texture. For the meatball, we tend to be used to the commercial versions which have a springier bite but this version is much softer, signifying less flour is used. It’s also larger in size, making just one meatball pretty substantial.
When eaten dry, the noodles have a lovely ‘al dente’ texture.
If you prefer a different taste, order their dry beef noodles for RM18.80. It’s an appetising pairing with springy noodles tossed in a beef sauce, and chunks of braised beef.
Add a dollop or two of their tangy chilli sauce and it’ll ignite those noodles into an appetising bowl; you will slurp up the springy strands. Even though the chilli sauce has a spicy hum, it’s not the type where the spiciness overwhelms your taste buds and makes your eyes tear up. It bears a striking similarity to the chilli sauce served with pan mee with a restrained pungency.
There’s various side dishes like cold salads, a nod towards the north-east China roots, like this unusual cold tripe salad.
They also offer a spicy version. For the spicy version, it’s apparently lighter on the burning heat compared to the mala version to allow the beef broth shine more.
For those who would rather not eat beef, you can order their minced meat paired with noodles as it offers a chicken version. There’s also a beef one.
Rice lovers are also catered for with a choice of their signature mix, braised beef ribs or oxtail. There’s even bak kut teh using chicken.
You have a choice of fried or boiled dumplings with beef or chicken filling to nibble on the side.
On its own, the dumplings can be light in taste but dip it in the dried chillies for a flavour boost (left). The dried chillies with ginger shreds (bottom) gives flavour to your dumplings while the chilli sauce (top) is a tasty, tangy and spicy boost for your noodles (right).
An array of cold appetisers are also on the menu. One can see it’s a nod to the China roots. There’s various cold salads, using black fungus, jellyfish head, bean curd and tripe. I was curious about the cold tripe salad (RM20.80) which turned out to be strips of tripe tossed in a deep tasting sauce given a slight crunch with julienned cucumbers.
A dollop of their dried red chillies dip gives the salad a mild heat. It’s a savoury, appetising flavour, one can happily eat. You also have a beef health salad, which uses their braised beef shin cut in thin slices.
Shen Niu may be new but it’s definitely a great choice at The Starling for comforting beef noodles served without any pork or lard.
I also sampled their beef dumplings or jiaozi (RM14.80 for 10 dumplings). You can also get chicken versions. They are either fried or boiled. I did find the dumpling skins to be too thick even though the beef filling was nice. On its own, the flavour is mild but pair it with the dried chillies dip mixed with strips of ginger for a flavour boost.
Do take note that the place is pork and lard free.
Shen Niu, Lot B-007 (Opposite Ah Cheng Laksa), Level B1, The Starling, No. 6, Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama (Uptown), Petaling Jaya. Tel: 016-9513466. Open daily: 10am to 10pm. Facebook: @shenniu01