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Taiwanese in Manhattan?

Jim Leff Feb 2, 2010 10:02 AM

I got asked a perfectly reasonable question yesterday that totally stumped me: where to get good Taiwanese in Manhattan.

I'm so used to heading to Flushing for Taiwanese that it had genuinely never occurred to me to seek it or track it in Manhattan (Chinatown or northward). But there's got to be somewhere real good, no? Preferably a non-hybrid (i.e. not Shanghai/Taiwanese), and neither too shmancy nor just snacky. Is there a Laifood analog in Manhattan?

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    nsp216 RE: Jim Leff Feb 2, 2010 10:24 AM

    I wish I knew more great Taiwanese restaurants, but I live/work in Manhattan so I don't make it out to Flushing as often as I'd like, sadly. The only place I can recommend in Chinatown is Excellent Pork Chop House on Doyers. My favorite dish there is the pork chop over rice (it comes with minced pork and pickled cabbage). Their braised spare rib soup is also pretty good. I've heard about a few other small Taiwanese restaurants in Chinatown, but I don't think any of them (including Excellent Pork Chop House) offer the same variety and quality as the Taiwanese restaurants in Flushing.

    There's supposedly a Taiwanese lunch truck in Manhattan (maybe in Midtown), but I've never tried it. Would be interested in hearing whether it's any good!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsp216
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      glutton08 RE: nsp216 Feb 2, 2010 12:42 PM

      It's called the cravings truck.

      http://www.nyccravings.com/

      I honestly have no idea if it's authentic or how it compares Flushing or Manhattan restaurants because I haven't had much exposure to Taiwanese cuisine. That said, it's delicious.

      1. re: glutton08
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        nycfinedining RE: glutton08 Mar 15, 2010 10:16 AM

        Thanks for the suggestion! I just looked at the website and the Cravings truck happens to be parked right near my office today, so I went on down and got a Taiwanese pork chop over rice. It is pretty good in absolute terms (large quantity of meat and rice, very tasty but a bit salty... I'm very thirsty now!) - I used to live in Taiwan though and this doesn't exactly compare. But hey, beggars can't be choosers!

    2. Chandavkl RE: Jim Leff Feb 2, 2010 02:09 PM

      The short answer is there aren't enough Taiwanese residents in Manhattan to support much in the way of Taiwanese cuisine. They're all parked in Flushing. I hesitate to attach the link below since it sort of got off topic, but it does mention all the possibilities in Manhattan.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/681387

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        bearmi RE: Jim Leff Feb 2, 2010 02:35 PM

        I like some of the Taiwanese-style rice plates and noodle dishes served at Saint's Alp's Tea House in East Village (3rd Ave and East 9th). The meat sauce they use has a lot of fried shallots which is very typical of Taiwanese cuisine and the stewed eggs are pretty flavorful. However, their "meal" menu is pretty limited. If you guys find other Taiwanese places, please let me know!

        12 Replies
        1. re: bearmi
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          Lau RE: bearmi Feb 2, 2010 05:37 PM

          its basically doesn't exist and you're way better off going to flushing, but if you must stay in the city, here's what i know:
          - excellent pork chop house: this is the only taiwanese restaurant i know of, i think their pork chop is just ok, the one thing they do have that is good is "si sheng tang", which is a intestine soup (very light, a little herbal, not gamey or anything like that), i get it with the lu rou fan (which is just ok), but it does the trick
          - china fun: on the upper eastside, they serve mediocre taiwanese style breakfast on the weekends only (xian dou jiang, shao bing etc)
          - NYC cravings: its the taiwanese truck; its not bad, but its not good either, i tried both the pork chop and chicken leg rice, it'll do the trick though
          - san chia: 29 catherine, never been, but i believe they serve taiwanese food
          - may wah: its not taiwanese per se, but they serve pork chop rice, i haven't been here in a while, but its a decent pork chop (better than NYC cravings or Excellent Pork Chop House, on par with hua ji)
          - jobee: never been, but they serve taiwanese food although i heard its very mediocre
          - hua ji: again not taiwanese per se, but they make pork chop rice; again not amazing, but i think this and may wah are the best pork chop rice in the city

          1. re: Lau
            buttertart RE: Lau Feb 3, 2010 08:29 AM

            Jobee is not terrific, it's more or less like a run-of-the-mill lower end bian dang three dishes for x dollars place. We went once and never went back.

            1. re: Lau
              DarthEater RE: Lau Feb 5, 2010 08:56 PM

              San Chia has been closed for a while now.

              1. re: Lau
                Chandavkl RE: Lau Feb 5, 2010 09:47 PM

                The "trouble' with the places in Chinatown is the price point. For example I don't think there's anything on the menu at Hua Ji priced over $4. At those prices there's no way you're going to get the quality you find in Flushing.

                1. re: Chandavkl
                  bigjeff RE: Chandavkl Feb 6, 2010 09:21 AM

                  is hua ji the place on allen near skyway, the snacky place with the basil fried chicken, etc.?

                  1. re: bigjeff
                    Chandavkl RE: bigjeff Feb 6, 2010 10:30 AM

                    Yes, 7 Allen St. Used to be Wah Ji then they changed it to Hua Ji. Location was Kingdom of Pancakes a few years ago.

                    1. re: bigjeff
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                      Lau RE: bigjeff Feb 6, 2010 10:52 AM

                      yah thats the place, they have xiang su ji, but its not that good

                      1. re: Lau
                        Chandavkl RE: Lau Feb 6, 2010 12:19 PM

                        Well with all of their $2 items they're clearly targeting the masses, not the Hounds.

                        1. re: Chandavkl
                          bigjeff RE: Chandavkl Feb 6, 2010 12:58 PM

                          or the masses of Hounds!

                          1. re: bigjeff
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                            Lau RE: bigjeff Feb 6, 2010 01:10 PM

                            i heard that vivi (the bubble tea place) has decent xiang su ji, which actually really reminds of bubble tea places in taiwan / asia

                            1. re: Lau
                              ChiefHDB RE: Lau Feb 6, 2010 01:21 PM

                              Is that the one with the Mr. Sparkle Homer outside?

                              1. re: ChiefHDB
                                ChiefHDB RE: ChiefHDB Feb 6, 2010 01:24 PM

                                Answered my own question.

                                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/1...

              2. teresa RE: Jim Leff Feb 2, 2010 07:27 PM

                I also have been looking for good Taiwanese food in Manhattan. I just recently read about this "fancier" Taiwanese gua bao (kind of like a hamburger) place in the LES called Baohaus. I think it opened within the last year. I have yet to visit it, but the menu looks pretty good. Of course the prices are bit pricey since they use higher end meats/ingredients.

                http://www.baohausnyc.com/

                Also, I heard that Tkettle is expanding on St Marks Place. Maybe they'll have real Taiwanese food now?

                14 Replies
                1. re: teresa
                  bigjeff RE: teresa Feb 3, 2010 07:20 AM

                  baohaus definitely looks interesting; opened by an enterprising young guy that could've been on a truck, but he did it storefront-style anyway.

                  1. re: bigjeff
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                    Lau RE: bigjeff Feb 3, 2010 07:41 AM

                    this place is really close to where i live, ill stop by this weekend and see how it is

                    1. re: Lau
                      teresa RE: Lau Feb 3, 2010 07:47 AM

                      Excellent. They're doing a Chinese New Year menu on 2/13 and 2/14 and it looks really tasty. It's too bad that I won't be in town during that weekend. I'd definitely want to try it.

                      Lau, report back to us with your review! :)

                      1. re: teresa
                        ChiefHDB RE: teresa Feb 4, 2010 06:27 PM

                        I went today. I had the hausbao with marinated skirt steak, 2 for $8.95. I liked it a lot, I think the crushed peanuts are what makes it (and most other gua bao for me). I also had the boiled peanuts, which is one of the few things I miss from the south, and a Taiwanese root beer. A little expensive, but all very good, I'll be back for the pork belly bao for sure.

                        1. re: ChiefHDB
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                          Lau RE: ChiefHDB Feb 4, 2010 07:48 PM

                          ohhh they have boiled peanuts...sweet i love those, they are super taiwanese

                          1. re: Lau
                            ChiefHDB RE: Lau Feb 5, 2010 05:48 AM

                            Yeah, I will definitely be getting my boiled peanut fix here. I really didn't taste anything more than salt (not a complaint, that's how they were in Georgia)... are there typically any other types of spices in Taiwanese boiled peanuts? The ones I had at Hunan House tasted like they only had salt too. I've made them cajun style at home, but I'm going to have to try making them really spicy next time.

                            1. re: ChiefHDB
                              buttertart RE: ChiefHDB Feb 5, 2010 07:18 AM

                              Sometimes there is star anise added. V good too.

                              1. re: ChiefHDB
                                bigjeff RE: ChiefHDB Feb 5, 2010 07:45 AM

                                their site claims some vinegar in the peanut but that doesn't sound familiar to me as a taiwanese flavor; I think it's usually pretty plain or as buttertart said, star anise, like the typical liquid that they do tempura/tienbula/oden/eggs in.

                                1. re: bigjeff
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                                  Lau RE: bigjeff Feb 5, 2010 07:47 AM

                                  yah they are usually plain

                                  1. re: Lau
                                    teresa RE: Lau Feb 6, 2010 02:08 PM

                                    I will have to go soon. I heard that 2 baos aren't enough, so perhaps I'll drop by for a "snack". My co-workers went last week and they both enjoyed their baos. I wonder if they still have beef noodle soup as their special? Yum. I have great hopes for this place!

                                    1. re: teresa
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                                      Lau RE: teresa Feb 7, 2010 11:09 AM

                                      here's my full review of baohaus: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/686282

                                      its quite good and 2 bao are not enough, they're pretty small

                                      1. re: Lau
                                        teresa RE: Lau Feb 8, 2010 05:18 AM

                                        I guess it'll be a snack. Thanks Lau. I'm really excited now. Maybe he'll take some of our requests!!

                                  2. re: bigjeff
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                                    freshofftheboat RE: bigjeff Feb 9, 2010 07:29 AM

                                    just cause its not traditional doesnt mean its not right. i'm taiwanese. i put vinegar in my peanuts. from this day forth, it is taiwanese food. lol

                                    1. re: freshofftheboat
                                      bigjeff RE: freshofftheboat Feb 9, 2010 09:56 AM

                                      with you homie! have yet to get down to your spot but the "bao" fries sound like the devil's invention. what would be bangin' is zhu-xue-gao on a stick, covered in sauce and ground peanut. hook it up!

                    2. bigjeff RE: Jim Leff Feb 26, 2010 09:40 PM

                      oh god, such taiwanese food porn:

                      http://www.nextstop.com/guide/G8pk_lP...

                      any place that can offer this or, dare I imagine, a night market offering this, say, in chinatown's columbus park? dammmmmn.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bigjeff
                        buttertart RE: bigjeff Feb 27, 2010 07:19 AM

                        Would be soo nice. The best Chinese restaurants in Taipei tab is v interesting too - Tian Xiang Lou (no, 1) is one of the best places we've ever eaten, anywhere. Hangzhou liaoli. Want to go back again soon!

                        1. re: bigjeff
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                          newportt2004 RE: bigjeff Mar 14, 2010 02:57 PM

                          when I was in Taiwan two years ago, ShiMoo fish (or fish skin) soup were all the rage .. so affordable and delicious too!

                          We can get ShiMoo fish here in NJ and the ShiMoo fish soup (though we lightly fried the fish first) I have at home are always my favorite!

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