7 foot wide. 1 seat. 5 minutes.
855 Beef Noodle Shop is an immersive experience that uses the concept of an iconic Taiwanese cuisine, beef noodle soup, to help the audience tangibly understand the workings of the Taiwanese language system, specifically the traditional characters and phonetic symbols.
Through ordering and “eating” this beef noodle soup 牛肉麵, the customer will learn how the Taiwanese language system, Zhuyin 注音 (phonetic symbols), and traditional Chinese characters work.
Forming the thought:
Since the beginning of my senior year, I knew I wanted to focus my thesis on promoting Taiwanese culture. The casualness of the Taiwanese food and scenery have a special place in my heart. My thesis was an homage to my home country.
Gradually, I narrowed my concept down to the unique Taiwanese language system called Zhuyin (bopomofo), and traditional characters. I used the representation of a Taiwanese delicacy, beef noodle soup to portray this cultural experience.
I looked into a lot into the Taiwanese chef, André Chiang and his restaurant, Raw (located in Taiwan). He successfully merges French-style cooking with Taiwanese ingredients to provide a complete dining experience for customers. Chiang doesn’t only think about the food taste— he thinks about the whole experience from delivering the dish to the table, to plating, and how a customer can interact with the food. I watched many of his interviews and tried to channel his manifesto. He said that when he is lost, he tries to think back to ‘why’. Why am I doing this? Why did I start this?
I was very inspired by the customer interactivity with the food. Therefore, I not only made my food interactive, but I also was at the shop selling noodles. I welcomed my customers, took their orders, and made food in front of them. Then, they ate the noodle soup by interacting with each layer. At the end, I even gave them a receipt postcard with business cards and stickers. Hopefully, this experience immerses them into the Taiwanese cultural environment while learning about the Taiwanese language system.
The final day was very hectic. I am very thankful for my employees who helped out the whole two hours. They assisted in greeting customers, handling with the check, making the food, and clearing dishes. Even though I was sad that I couldn’t serve all the customers on the waiting list, I truly enjoyed talking to every customer and promoting Taiwanese culture to them.