The Genesis of Su Beng’s Tokyo Noodle Shop- PART III

With no one else selling Northern Chinese style dishes, the food stall was an instant success. In about 3 years time Su Beng had saved up enough money to buy a 2 story building which is where he opened the New Gourmet (新珍味) noodle shop. And so the food stall was closed. For years, Su Beng had been sending money earned from his food stall and later his noodle shop back into Taiwan to fund underground activists in Taiwan. Years later, in the early 1960s, 3 additional stories were built, making the building 5 stories tall.

It was here in the noodle shop that he wrote the Japanese language version of Taiwan’s 400 Years of History (which was published in 1962) and the Chinese language version (which was published in 1980). At first, he'd get up early in the morning to go to the library before opening the noodle shop to do some research. Libraries in Japan turned out to be a wealth of information on Taiwan, which had been a colony of Japan from 1895-1945. He would steal away some time during the day when business was slow to write the mammoth book.

"Su Beng" was the pen name he choose to write the book under to keep his identity secret. The character 史 (Su/Shi), means history and 明 (Beng/Ming), means clear. Taken together, they can be interpreted to mean to "clear history" or "clarify history." Later when word leaked out about his identity and the book he was writing, he had to write the book in secrecy. Ever since then, this nom de guerre seems to be the one that has stuck.

Su Beng’s 2000 page plus Chinese language version of Taiwan’s 400 Years of History. Photo courtesy of Su Beng.

NEXT: Learn how profits from the New Gourmet noodle shop paid for bribes to obtain the Chinese Nationalists' classified documents, funded activities of Su Beng’s underground network of Taiwan independence activists and their organized acts of urban guerrilla warfare.