Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Hundreds of food lovers flooded into the Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival on Saturday to sample the city's famed dish.
The festival, which featured an area for prize-winning vendors, drew excited visitors who wanted to try different varieties of the dish at discount prices.
Bill Hsieh, a 61-year-old Taipei resident, said he has never missed the annual event, now in its ninth year, as he said it's a great deal to sample bowls of beef noodle for as low as NT$50 (US$1.6) each, instead of the NT$200 to NT$300 one normally pays.
Sales were strong, according to the vendors, thanks to the city's increasing promotion on the noodles.
Hung Jin-lung, owner of the Chef Hung Taiwan Beef Noodles, said he sold about 1,000 bowls of beef noodles by noon, two hours after the festival opened.
"Our noodles feature healthy ingredients, which are quite popular among consumers," said Hung, who won the third prize in the international challenge, happening in the festival for the first time.
Taipei government officials said they hope to generate business for local vendors through the event, adding that beef noodles created revenue of over NT$1.1 billion last year, compared with NT$780 million in 2008.
Hung, the former director-general of the Taipei New Row Mian Interflow Develop Association, said the association is working with the government to look into launching a "beef noodle street" in downtown Taipei to cater to tourists all over the world.
A possible location for the street is somewhere in the bustling Ximen area, which accommodates some 50 famous beef noodle shops, according to Hung.
The cuisine has tremendous commercial potential, he said, adding that 30 percent of his 50,000 customers each month come from foreign countries, mostly Japan, China and Malaysia.
Sensing business opportunities, more and more local vendors are working with travel agencies to include sampling of the dish on Cinese tourists' itineraries, said Cheng Cheng-chung, the association's deputy director-general.
The free festival will run until Sunday at the Taipei Expo Park.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)