The well-known ‘Hsinchu rice noodles’ are not just one type of ‘rice noodles’; older generations of Hsinchu distinguish the rice noodles into ‘Shuifen’ (water rice noodles) and ‘Cuifen’ (steamed rice noodles). When they talked about ‘rice noodles’, they were actually talking about ‘Shuifen’ which is thicker; therefore it is also called ‘Thick rice noodle’. The thinner ‘Cuifen’ was developed later on, and is also known as ‘Thin rice noodle’.

Before the Japanese colonized Taiwan, Hsinchu rice noodle had already become famous domestically because Hsinchu’s wind was perfect for the drying process of the thicker ‘Shuifen’ noodles. After the restoration of Taiwan, we developed the unique process of making quality ‘Cuifen’ noodles, which then became famous world-wide. Nowadays, few are able to distinguish between ‘Shuifen’ and “Cuifen’, they are all called ‘rice noodles’. Generally, the ‘Hsinchu Rice Noodle’ we see in the markets now are the thinner ‘Cuifen’, and they are one of the most famous characteristics of ‘Hsinchu Rice Noodle’.

We may also distinguish ‘Cuifen’ and ‘Shuifen’ according to their manufacturing processes.‘Cuifen’ is pressed into thin noodles first, and then steamed. The Hokken pronunciation of ‘steaming’ is ‘cui’, therefore it is called ‘Cuifen’. ‘Shuifen’ is usually thicker in shape, and is cooked in boiling water. Then it is soaked in cold water to prevent sticking. Water is involved in the process, therefore this type of rice noodle is called ‘Shuifen’ (water rice noodle).

It is well known that ‘Hsinchu wind’ is famous; other than the fact that ‘Hsinchu wind’ is freezing during the winter, what else do you know about the nickname ‘Wind City’? What does ‘Hsinchu wind’ have to do with Hsinchu rice noodles? Here is a brief explanation!

Other than the offshore islands and Penghu, Hsinchu city’s monsoons are the strongest among all the west coast cities. This is because Hsinchu alluvial plains open up from southeast to northwest in the shape of horn. As soon as the wind enters the city, it will increase due to the constraining shape of the alluvial plains. During winter, wind disasters are common along the coastline of Hsinchu, so there is a proverb of ‘Hsinchu wind, Keelong rain’ for this reason.

The northeast wind is strongest during the months of October to December, and southwest wind during the months of June to August. Hsinchu does not rain a lot especially during the time of northeast wind; it becomes the perfect condition for the wind drying process of rice noodles. The ‘frosty’ wind does not contain a lot of water, so it becomes the best time for the sun drying process of rice noodles when the sunshine comes out. The rice noodles that are made during autumn and winter are the highest quality, because the process involves 30% of sun drying and 70% of wind drying. Although the sun is strong during summer, the quality is not as good without the wind drying process.

In conclusion, the horn-shaped plains are able to compress and increase the wind; Hsinchu is also located at the back of the mountains, therefore the rain brought by the winter wind is left in Keelong and Yilan, and only the cold wind comes through to Hsinchu, which becomes the best condition for making rice noodles.