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BEST Chinese Dinner for an Out-Of-Town Taiwan Native?

  • h

Here is my situation - my great uncle from Taiwan is in town for two days. This is his first time in New York City and he has been waiting his whole life to come here (he's a bit on the old side and jokes that this may be his first and last time in this city).

I have been asked by my parents to choose a restaurant for dinner this Friday night (tomorrow).

Shamefully, I don't know of ANY good Chinese / Taiwanese restaurants! I'm looking for something that's not slam-your-drink-down, dirty-chopsticks, rush-rush service...something a bit nicer, classier, more impressive. It doesn't have to be extremely expensive OR extremely cheap, just someplace that would make my Taiwanese uncle feel like he's experienced a good authentic meal in New York.

Any suggestions are welcome! And thank you!

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  1. Why take your uncle to a taiwanese dinner when Taiwanese cuisine is lacking in NYC? Perhaps Japanese kaiseki, Honmura An, french, or Italian would be a more unique experience...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Porthos

      Agreed that Manhattan is not the place for Taiwanese food. However, the link between Taiwan and Flushing goes back over 50 years. Ultimately that's why there's a Flushing Chinatown. If you could arrange a side trip there it's something he might find very interesting.

    2. If it were up to me I would definitely take him to a non-Chinese restaurant. However, my parents requested a Chinese restaurant! :)

      1. Shun Lee Palace is both Chinese, and a classic New York institution. Some will say the food is not the BEST in NYC, but the service and decor are impressive, and the food is certainly very good. Be ready to shell out bucks, but for overall Chinese food dining experience, he wouldn't be disappointed. Not sure about the "Taiwanese" element, but if Chinese is what you're after, this is a great place to don the coat and tie.

        2 Replies
        1. re: surfer dude

          i couldn't disagree more...

          "not the BEST in NYC" is a huge understatement...service is impressive if you like snotty captains, pretentious attitude etc...i don't think the decor is anything to get too excited about either...on my first and last visit there, i found my food about on par w/ my local Cantonese delivery joint, perhaps w/ slightly better ingregients (but inferior to the Chinese places that have opened up since then -- e.g. Grand Sichuan)...my visit there was one of the silliest wastes of money i've ever had in an NYC restaurant...

          that said, i've heard from others on this board that Shun Lee has some yummy specialties and perhaps i ordered poorly...and i'll conceed that if the OP merely wants a coat&tie place, this is one of the few Chinese places where that'd be normal...

          to the OP: i agree w/ the other posters that a non-divey AND tasty Taiwanese dinner in Manhattan is hard to come by...i'd recommend checking again to see: a) if the meal really has to be Chinese and if your great uncle might enjoy something else (e.g. a steak at Keens, great Italian at Lupa, etc), or b) which other regional Chinese cuisine he favors: you can find much better Sichuan in Manhattan than Taiwanese, or you could get some nice Cantonese seafood at somewhere like Ping's...

          1. re: Simon

            ^ also, youve gone to the og SHUN LEE on the east side. the westsider version is not snobby. it would be a decent choice.

            too bad the uncle was not here during the DIN TAI FUNG expo at the sheraton hotel in flushing, but i dont think they had it this year anyway???

            is there nothing taiwanese worthwhile in flushing?

        2. Sadly, there are no authentic Taiwanese restuarants in Manhattan.

          If you really want Taiwanese, you have to go to FLushing.

          Two good ones: Lau Seafood (on the corner across the street from the big parking lot)

          Lu Ho 39-07 Prince St

          Fianlly, It's not Taiwanese but upscale Chinese is Ocean Jewels, also in Flushing

          3 Replies
          1. re: Buddha Belly

            Lau seafood, the place that used to be Laifood or 66? Had a couple of bad meals there, and unfortunately, not feelin' it. You can do David's, which I think is the only place that has the word Taiwanese in its name. That place is in Elmhurst. Or, do they still have that place Ku Shiang?

            1. re: bigjeff

              I believe Lau Seafood is what Laifood used to be. I wasn't a big fan of Laifood, but now they offer homemade noodles, so I'm all set! :) I think Ku Shiang is still open. I believe there is also another restaurant in Eastern Flushing on Main Street. I can't remember the name though!

              1. re: bigjeff

                I like Lau Seafood, had a couple of good meals there.

            2. Some people have arguments about the xiao long bao from Joe's Shanghai and the famous place in Taiwan. This might be fun (or not fun)for your family to debate the virtues of both.

              Joe’s Shanghai restaurant.
              (718) 539-3838
              13621 37th Ave
              Flushing, NY 11354

              Be sure to order 2 pans right when you sit down so you don't have to wait forever. Plus don't order the pan fried dumplings, they are so disappointing after eating xiao long bao.

              1. You can try Chinatown Brasserie.
                The dim sum is fantastic and the space is, though a bit kitschy, very nice.
                Stay away from the menu items that aren't dim sum.

                It's not taiwanese but it's the only "upscale" chinese restaurant in manhatten that I've been impressed by.

                1. There are so many good restaurants in Chinatown. The best, I think, are Cantonese/Hong kong style. I think my favorites now are 6 Chatham Square and Amazing 66. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/340879 I used to love East Ocean ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/226620 ) but the last time I was there it wasnt as good. Still, it might be worth investigating.

                  For more background, check out this post.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Brian S

                    All roads lead to Cantonese food!

                    BrianS you will get blown away if you chowhounded Cantonese food in Vancouver or Hong Kong.

                  2. I don't think you can go wrong with a good Cantonese meal at Amazing 66 on 66 Mott Street. I would say Japanese too, but I have no idea what his stand on that is.

                    1. What about Tang Pavilion on 55th between 5th and 6th Aves? Classy Shanghai food, very pleasant decor (CC Wang paintings nad oxblood porcelains) and atmosphere (reminds me of the Jiangzhe restaurants I remember in Taipei a while ago), very good service - the place is always full of Chinese and Japanese parties (and Japanese people know their Chinese food, of course)...this is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Chinese or no. Maybe 25% more expensive than Chinatown and a lot more comfortable for a quiet dinner than most of the restaurants there.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart

                        I was very disappointed by my one meal at Tang Pavillion. It was good, for sure, but nothing special, especially considering the price. I think Evergreen is better.

                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                          Sorry to hear that, we have always enjoyed the food there - they have a scallop and bamboo shoot with pickled veg (xue cai) dish that is utterly delicious and unique in the city, at least to my knowledge - also their mao dou bai ye rou si (pork strips with beancurd sheet noodles and edamame) is very refined - I suppose it's all in what you order. Have been going there since it opened, and I think it has gotten even better lately.

                      2. It is already past your date, so I guess it doesn't matter now.

                        But I was just in Taiwan last weekend, after 24 years of absence (!) I have to say, just about any little stand on the side of the road has better snack than the imitations in Flushing. I was happy that my stubborn food memory from 24 years ago were real, and not from nostalgia, but I was also sad that once I left Taiwan, that taste can never be duplicated anywhere else.

                        Now, the so-called Taiwanese food we crave in the States are mostly food from the night market on the roadside. There ARE older Taiwanese (or Mainlanders) who do not eat those type of food for fear of cleanliness.

                        You didn't say if your family and your Great Uncle likes to eat or not, but I wouldn't try to take him to a Authentic Taiwanese restaurant in the States, except maybe if he wants soy milk and Shaobing for breakfast...but then I'd go to the Noodle House in Flushing for that, not Manhattan.

                        I would probably try to take him to a good Dim Sum place if it has to be Chinese. Or Wu Liang Ye for Sichuan food. If you end up in Chinatown, maybe to "Whatever" (formerly "Healthy Dessert") for fruity ices, instead of the tired ole bubble tea places.

                        Anyhow, would be interested to find out where you did take him....