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Feb 22, 2010 06:00 AM

Formosa Taipei

The former Denien's site on Marrett Rd in Lexington is now Formosa Taipei, a mostly takeout chinese restaurant, with a Taiwanese slant.
I gather the owners used to own, or part own, Jo Jo Taipei in Allston.
Don't know much about Taiwanese cuisine, but I enjoyed pan fried pork buns, sticky rice with pork in bamboo leaves, hot and spicy minced chicken (pretty spicy!) and got a bag of pork and cabbage dumplings which I havent tried yet, but look good.
They also bought the bubble tea equipment from the former owners, and are shaving ice and making bao bin, which I didn't try, but looked good and was being bought up by many chinese customers.
Maybe someone with more experience can chip in.

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  1. Really? Can we eat in here? Thinking about heading here with some friends but not sure about the atmosphere. Doesn't need to be fancy but if there are only a couple of tables, don't want to have to wait.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayk

      No tabkes, but some counters and stools around the edge of the room. Not a "sit down" atmosphere, but you can eat in.

    2. Just picked up a portion of Taiwanese wonton soup, an order of three-cup chicken, and some rice to go. The verdict? Definitely a very nice choice for take-out. I very much enjoyed the chicken. The soup had some nice delicately formed wontons (goldfish shaped, not the usual envelope fold) and was surprisingly peppery (black pepper, not chili). The menu is limited but that's not a problem as far as I am concerned. The person who took my order recommended the beef noodle soup as being very Taiwanese and a good choice for next time. I will be back!

      The seating arrangement is the same as the previous business - a counter along the wall with a few stools. If you are looking for a quick meal as you are on your way from one place to another, eating there could work out very well. However this is definitely not a formal restaurant with table service.

      For what it's worth, I was told that Formosa Taipei is a spin-out of Jo Jo Taipei. One of the partners came from Jo Jo Taipei and took the kitchen staff along.

      My only regret is I wish this place had been open when I was working in Lexington Center. It is right along the path between there and my house and would have been perfect for picking up dinner on the way home.

      1. Just went to Formosa Taipei last night. Nice menu. We had bubble tea (okay, but unremarkable), very nice three cup tofu (a very thin sauce, but really nice balanced flavors), the flounder fish filet (chuan1 wei4 yu2 pian4) which were very beautiful soft pillows of fish in a pleasantly spicy sauce. Nothing too fancy, but someone definitely knows what he's doing in the kitchen! Most interestingly, we had the "sesame biscuit" a strange name for zhi1 ma da4 bing3, a kind of big puffy layered bread, topped with sesame and stuffed with scallions. I've had this made by a Chinese grandmother before, but never in a restaurant. It was great!

        We ended the meal with the shaved ice ("bow bin") dessert. The shaved ice itself was refreshing, the boiled peanuts and red bean were flavorful, and there was lots of condensed milk. But there were also these odd little gummy fruit cubes, which were unpleasantly hard and way too sweet.

        I recognized one of the women for the early days of Jo Jo Taipei. We chatted for awhile and I rather got the impression that one of the original partners left and now has started this restaurant, rather than it being an amiable spin-off. But that's okay. They are also opening another branch in Nashua, NH very soon.

        Since we had come from Cambridge, we wanted to eat in, and that we did, sitting on stools at the counter. There's about room for four people to eat, although they are obviously set up for take out. Our food was served in take out containers, which certainly made it easy to pack up the leftovers.

        JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
        103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

        Formosa Taipei
        315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

        1 Reply
        1. re: lipoff

          When I was there, everyone (all the chinese customers) was getting the bao bin, and appearing to love it! Gotta try that next time.
          The pork and cabbage dumplings I bought frozen to take home were great! Better, I thought, than those from the Chinese Spaghetti Factory. Plumper, better tasting dough that held up well to pan fry/steaming at home. The filling was also excellent meaty with nice cabbage flavor. They're also made with a flat side that the CSF dumplings don't have, makes them pan fry with a nice crispy side.

          Chinese Spaghetti Factory
          73 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

        2. I have been here twice and find the dishes that I've tried very authentic. The twice cooked pork is terrific but not what you'd expect unless you've eaten in CHina or somewhere like the Grand Sichuan in NYC.

          1 Reply
          1. re: justauser

            Tried the twice cooked pork today and while everything was good with a nice spice I found it very similar to your run of the mill chinese restaurant. The pork seemed to be the same over tenderized meat.

          2. We went to Formosa Taipei last weekend for a quick bite between errands. We ordered the lo bo gao (turnip cakes), chive "boxes", and vegetarian dumplings. The skin of the dumplings was unremarkable but they were stuffed with a surprising array of colorful and very thinly sliced veggies. The chive boxes (eggs, glass noodles, and chives encased in a pastry shell) were as delicious as anything deep fried should be. And the lo bo gao was excellent - I have high standards for this, as it's my favorite dim sum dish and I've eaten it all over the country and in Hong Kong/China - but it exceeded my expectations for a takeout joint. The turnip was smooth, fresh, and flavorful.

            The one thumbs-down was the soybean milk (savory version, which includes vinegar, chili, etc.). My husband's family is from Taiwan and they love their savory soy milk. I tasted some of my husband's and we agreed it was among the worst we've had in Boston - insipid, really. The chunks of fried dough had been sitting in the soy milk in preparation for takeout and so they were all soggy. It was also pricey ($3).

            Formosa Taipei
            315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

            4 Replies
            1. re: tigerswims

              Oh god, it's hard to find good savory soy milk...Where do you find one you like?

              1. re: galleygirl

                i'm partial to the version at Chung shin Yuan (Newton), not so much for the flavor but for the way it thickens up into curds as you stir it (if you add a few drops of vinegar) and also for the fried cruller there (order separately) which is the best around imo...for meat eaters, the (rice flour coated) steamed spicy spare ribs are also a rare treat and the jia jiang mein (peking meat sauce noodles) are good comfort food

                1. re: galleygirl

                  My husband says he likes the version at Shangri-La in Belmont the best, I think because it's solidly reliable rather than hit-or-miss. It's got good flavor and body, if you can talk about soy milk that way.

                  149 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478