Taiwanese Food Is Having a Moment in NYC—Here’s Where to Eat It
Taiwanese food isn’t new to New York City—mainstays like Main Street Taiwanese Gourmet in Flushing and Taiwanese Specialties in Elmhurst have been operating in Queens for ages—but lately there’s been a new generation of restaurants cropping up, each out to showcase what the island’s unique cuisine has to offer.
As chef and Taiwan native Eric Sze explains, “Taiwan is so diverse. You have the Chinese who came over after generations of Japanese rule, so the food takes influences from so many different cultures.” Sze, who’s currently recipe testing for his upcoming St. Marks restaurant 886, plans on introducing New Yorkers to the stir-fries and street food he grew up with. Until then, here’s where you can seek out the new (and delicious) wave of Taiwanese eats.
Beef Noodle Soup: Ho Foods
Homesick for Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Richard Ho takes matters into his own hands at this pint-sized East Village shop. Using his mom’s recipe as inspiration, Ho doles out bowl after bowl of a comforting broth that takes a full ten hours to complete. It’s kicked up with Sichuan peppercorn, spices and doubanjiang (a fermented broad-bean paste), and served with pasture-raised beef shank, pickled mustard greens and your choice of thick or thin noodles.
10 E. Seventh St.; hofoodsnyc.com
Pastries: Bake Culture
Founded by a trio of former pop stars—basically, the Nick Carters and Justin Timberlakes of Taiwan—this bakery recently opened its first stateside outposts in Chinatown and Flushing, pushing a rotating lineup of more than 200 baked goods. Specialties from the island nation include pineapple cakes (think shortbread-like Fig Newtons with a jammy fruit filling) and taro balls (flaky, lavender-hued orbs stuffed with a sweetened paste made from the root).
Multiple locations; bakecultureusa.com
Modern Taiwanese: Win Son
A collaboration between Trigg Brown (Upland) and Josh Ku (a property manager), the red-hot Williamsburg eatery offers up a bold interpretation of Taiwanese cooking. There are many familiar dishes on the menu, each tweaked slightly with welcome changes—the oyster pancake is studded with Beausoleil bivalves and celery root, while lu rou fan (braised pork rice) comes with minced belly and fermented Chinese broccoli. There’s only one dessert, but it’s a must-order: a vanilla ice cream sandwich draped in condensed milk with fried peanuts and cilantro.
159 Graham Ave., Brooklyn; winsonbrooklyn.com
Bubble Tea: Boba Guys
Yes, bubble tea is nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks coffee thanks to international chains such as Vivi’s, Gong Cha and Kung Fu Tea, but this West Coast import goes above and beyond the typical powdered mix. Using top-quality ingredients—real tea, organic milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery, housemade syrups—boba-ristas pour a mix of classic drinks (milk tea, matcha latte) and less traditional options (horchata, strawberry tea fresca) inspired by the brand’s California roots.
Multiple locations; bobaguys.com
Scallion Pancake: Mimi Cheng’s
When Hannah and Marian Cheng opened an outpost of their dumpling shop in Nolita, they also expanded the menu to include more Taiwanese eats. “Taiwanese food is the food that we grew up on at home and while visiting our relatives in Taipei,” the sisters explain. Along with beef noodle soup and street cart-style greens, they also added a breakfast wrap (available only on weekends) that fills a scallion pancake with scrambled eggs, cheddar, mushrooms, avocado and spinach.
380 Broome St.; mimichengs.com
Taro Balls: Meet Fresh
Soft, mochi-like taro balls—different from the ones at Bake Culture—are the pride of this Taiwan chain, which highlights the springy delicacy in bowls with red bean, sweet potato and more. There are also herbal jellies (an inky-hued dessert staple that’s super refreshing), shave ice and tofu puddings that keep this just-opened import perpetually packed.
37 Cooper Sq.; meetfresh.com
Fried Chicken: Yumpling
That mouthwatering scent wafting out of this roving food truck? That's Taiwanese-style fried chicken. The pieces of crispy, salt-and-pepper-crusted bird come in one of two forms: as the finishing garnish on a minced pork belly rice bowl or sandwiched between a Martin's potato roll with fresh Thai basil, scallions and Yumpling's housemade basil aioli.
Roving location; yumplingnyc.com