Dan zai noodles or tan-tsu noodles (Chinese: 擔仔麵; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tàⁿ-á-mī; literally: "shoulder pole noodle") is one of the best known snacks in Tainan, Taiwan. It originated in Tainan, (in southern Taiwan) about 130 years ago. Tan-tsu Noodles is also known as "Slack Season Tan-tsu Noodle". While the general recipe is well known, some of the spices and the proportions of the various ingredients (shrimp flavored soup, shrimp, coriander, and garlic) are well guarded secrets by the different restaurants/stands that serve it. While seemingly a simple snack, foodies from all over the world have given it substantial recognition. The normal serving size is usually small, being considered more of a snack than an entree. It is also on the pricier side (relatively) at around 50 NTD ($1.67 USD) for a small bowl.
Tan-tsu Noodle is rumored to originate in the late Qing dynasty, around 1895. The founder was a fisherman named Hong Yutou, from Tainan, and descending from fishermen in Zhangzhou, Fujian who immigrated to Taiwan. During the Tomb Sweeping Festival and summer season (July to September) each year in Taiwan, there are frequent typhoons, rendering fishing too dangerous. These periods of time were called the “Slack Season” because the fishermen were not able to work. When Hong was 20 years old, he began to sell noodles to earn money during this "Slack Season" and then eventually began to make this his primary occupation. In the beginning, he carried his noodles on shoulder poles (擔仔; tàⁿ-á) and sold them on the street before setting up a small stall in front of the Tainan Shui Xian Temple. Thus the name “Slack Season Tan-tsu Noodle”.