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Taipei Gourmet, Lexington

Taipei Gourmet has taken over the former Three Gorges in Lexington. I visited it today with my parents for lunch.

I had never been to Three Gorges, so I don't know if the interior has changed much. About 3/4 of the people there were Asian, and though the restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived at 11:30, it gradually started filling up so that by the time we left at 12:45, the one waitress was starting to scramble a bit.

I was mostly interested in the section in the menu on "Taiwanese Appetizers & Flour Corner" (not entirely sure what a "flour corner" is meant to be, but my carb-loving stomach liked the sound of it). From this section, we ordered scallion pancake with roast beef, xiao long bao, steamed homemade dumpling with pork and cabbage, steamed red bean buns, and pan fried turnip cake. We also ordered noodles with ground pork in peking sauce, ko-cha dish, watercress, and bok choy.

The watercress and bok choy were not really on the menu, though they both showed up as "seasonal vegetable" on the bill. Both were stir-fried; the watercress with garlic, the bok choy with ginger.

My favorite dish was the scallion pancake with roast beef, though the pancake was greasier than I usually like. The steamed homemade dumpling had thick skin (to withstand the steaming, I suppose) and would have been tastier pan-fried. We found the meat in the dumpling to be underseasoned. The soup dumplings were tastier than I expected but not as soupy as the ones at Asia Gourmet. My parents really liked the noodles with ground pork (which we ordered mild) but I found it bland.

The ko-cha dish was something I hadn't had before - apparently a regional specialty that seemed to consist of squid, tofu (the kind with the dark skin), random dark things. It was tasty, but just not something I would order on my own.

Biggest disappointment were the red bean buns, which are the kind you can just buy at a chinese supermarket and steam at home. I was hoping for homemade.

Overall, the food was fine - not great, but not bad if you just want to go someplace close. I thought the prices were a little expensive (the total with tax was about $70, and we did not have any drinks other than tea). If I had unlimited time, I'd probably drive the extra distance to Asia Gourmet, but this place would be acceptable if I didn't. The people working there seemed nice, and though I didn't have anything that wowed me, I'd be willing to try other menu options.

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  1. Interesting! We are right down the street from them...Three Gorges used to depress the hell out of me. I definitely get a hankering for Chinese take-out once in a blue moon. Thanks for the tip! And check this out from their on-line menu:

    Delivery for orders start from $20.00
    Delivery Charge $2.0
    Any Delivery Charge is not a tip paid to your driver.
    Please reward your driver for awesomeness.

    That got a chuckle from me!

    (BTW, I think by "flour corner" they mean "this is the section of the menu that contains things made of flour/dough, such as dumplings.")

    1 Reply
    1. re: digga

      Any Delivery Charge is not a tip paid to your driver.
      Please reward your driver for awesomeness.

      That got a chuckle from me!

      How weird -- that is stolen, verbatim, from the Domino's order page.

      Yes, I've been known to order Domino's, because the places that deliver in my neighborhood suck even worse.

    2. Went for lunch today and I think the interior is the same but I only went to Three Gorges once years ago and never returned. The new owner has previously worked at Formosa Taipei but quit to open this Taiwanese restaurant. She's very nice and did most of the waitressing today.
      With the lunch you get the normal three choices of soup and I choose the Hot and Sour that comes out in a small bowl with a drizzle of chili oil on top. The Soup was OK.
      I ordered the Lunch Special Flounder Fish Fillet with Szechuan Sauce and the waitress/owner said that it was spicy and I said that spicy is good and she asked if I wanted it extra spicy to which I said YES. When it arrived it has, as you can see, a brown sauce and that is not a good sign. It was just mildly spicy at the most. She offered to redo the dish for takeout when she stopped by later to ask if it was spicy enough and I said that it wasn't spicy at all. I declined, they just opened and everyone is learning but I thought the gesture was nice. The fish on the other hand was cooked perfectly and she later said that she had spoken to the chef.

      Taipei Gourmet
      211 Mass Ave
      Lexington, MA 02420
      781-541-6999

      http://taipei-gourmet.com/

      http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

       
      1 Reply
      1. re: Ferrari328

        Looks like a nice size lunch for $7.99 with soup!

      2. I have a cold and I figured a spicy soup would do me good.
        Spicy Noodles Soup with Pork hit the spot nicely. She did remember me from last week and the soup did come out nicely spiced, and this time I would agree that it was spicy, they even threw in a bunch of sliced Thai Bird Chilies so it got better as time progressed. The noodles were cooked perfectly, chewy with a nice texture without being undercooked.

        http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

         
        2 Replies
        1. re: Ferrari328

          that soup looks great!

          1. re: hargau

            It does! Now if only we had a secret code to make sure it's actually spicy....

        2. Ordered the Beef Sirloin in Noodle Soup for lunch today, marked spicy on the menu. Good amount of tender beef and there was also some baby bok choy and some minced pickled veggies that was a nice addition. It was actually nicely spiced but I noticed that on the bill it said "extra spicy" so it might be worth asking for that. Extra spicy comes out as spicy in my book. Not sure what part of the sirloin their beef is from ;-) but it was flavorful and very tender. Underneath is a BIG heap of nicely cooked noodles!
          The only customers were me and a Asian couple and their dish looked familiar so I asked the waitress what they got and they ordered the same dish as me! Two tables and the same dish, go figure but someone must have good taste.

          http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

           
          4 Replies
          1. re: Ferrari328

            I usually find these beef soups to have way too much fat, was that the case? I hate any fat on my beef...

            1. re: hargau

              Apart from the big piece in the foreground the rest of the beef was nice without too much fat.

              1. re: Ferrari328

                Not a fan of cilantro. Is the soup redolent of it or does it merely adorn its top?

                1. re: FeeFiPho

                  Just decorations.

          2. Went here for lunch today. Not too many customers at lunchtime. It's sad, such a nice sunny room and nice people running it. On the other hand, it's a pain to get here from anywhere except Lexington or Arlington and it's even a stretch from Arlington.
            I ordered Pork with Pickled Cabbage Noodle Soup, this was nice, thick chewy noodles and there was some sliced shiitake mushrooms in there with the pork as well. Very light broth.

            http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

             
            1. Went for lunch with a colleague last Friday, room was 2/3 full and lots of people had large bowls of soup noodles. I heard a man tell someone at another table that he is from Beijing and these are the best soup noodles he has found here. We both got the Spicy Noodles Soup with Pork, which was plenty spicy in my book and kept getting more so as we ate. That was explained as we got to the bottom and found sliced chilis (second picture). To my extreme discomfort and my jeans' distress I did eat the whole thing but won't next time. :) Anyway, we both absolutely loved this and it will be hard not to order it every time. Striperguy, I know your SO loves the hot and sour wonton soup at Golden Garden; this soup is equally wonderful.

              Returned last night and had the fried chicken over rice, which I thought Ferrari328 previously reported on. Very nicely fried chicken (breast or leg option) on rice with some braised pork, bok choy, pickled cabbage, pickled daikon slice and something I had never had before: a marinated egg (almost hard-cooked egg that was marinated in a savory sauce for a long enough period to have tinted the entire egg dark brown). The egg was odd on the first bite but I ended up really liking it.

              The same two extremely nice and friendly women were waiting tables on both visits. The one who I believe is the owner told us that on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve they will offer 20% off on takeout orders, and on Christmas Day and New Year's Day they will offer 20% off on eat-in orders. There are a lot of interesting things on the menu here and my two initial visits are extremely promising.

              4 Replies
              1. re: GretchenS

                The soup looks really good. I think you and i have different spiciness books though! I have had dishes with chili slices like that in every bite and thought they were only medium spicy! :)

                1. re: hargau

                  Yeah, I worry that maybe I am a spice wimp. :) They are incredibly nice here though and I am sure would accomodate a request for super-extra-quadruple spicy. Last night when I was asking them all about the marinated egg, they brought me one wrapped up to go, which really touched me.

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    I wonder if that is a Tea Egg?

                    1. re: hargau

                      She said they cook the egg in water and then shell it and put it in a huge container with "sauce" and let it sit for a day or more. I asked if there were soy in the sauce and she said no. The egg was warm when served but stayed yummy even when it cooled off, and it was a uniform color throughout (taking into acount that it started out two colors). I am very much looking forward to the other one tonight! I'd love someone who knows about these things to give us an education on these eggs...

              2. Oops, pictures.

                 
                 
                1. So I am way overdue for a follow-up report, I have now eaten here at least a dozen times, maybe more, due to a combination of liking the food, really liking the people, and it's very local to me.
                  The owner, who waits tables a lot, is super-nice and friendly and pretty passionate about her business. She told me that she is from Taipei and the chef is from Shanghai, so they have some specialties from each. They also have standard American-Chinese stuff and there is a demographic that is very happy with that. Mostly I see more interesting things on tables I can see. Business has picked up quite a bit from the start and there is often chat between tables, which I get a kick out of.
                  Today I wanted a big steaming bowl of soup noodles to counteract the freezing cold but was not up for the spicy pork (which I have had now a couple of times and really like). I was steered to the Pork with Snow Cabbage in Noodle Soup and loved it. The broth is delicate but flavorful, there is a huge mound of noodles with some chew to them, there is quite a bit of thinly-sliced tender pork, and then in addition to the snow cabbage, there are julienned pea pods and lovely fresh bean sprouts for crunch and sliced black mushrooms for umami. Just wonderful. I did manage to stop myself half way though this time.
                  My neighbors (who have spent a lot of time in Shanghai) kept raving about the xiao long bao (listed as steamed mini-juicy buns) and so I have ordered them a couple of times and really enjoyed them. I had never had them before so can't speak to how they stack up to others in the area but my neighbors think they are the best in the GBA.
                  Salt and pepper fried chicken (app) features small pieces of bone-in chicken and pieces of spicy peppers and fried basil and if you like to gnaw, they are wonderful. Salt and pepper pork chops (main) are seasoned differently and are also wonderful. Some pieces have bone and some do not, which is handy if you have a DC who dislikes gnawing (as is the case with a friend of mine).
                  Pork with bamboo shoots and dried bean curd and Twice-Cooked Pork, shared with a friend as lunch specials, were both good. I gave the edge to the first, he gave it to the second. Portions on the lunch special were on the large side.
                  Stir-fried pea pod stems (a fixture on the white board) are extremely good. There is a weekend specials menu (full page) that has some very interesting things. I am sorry I can't remember anything except Cold Black Fungus which we tried to order but they were out of -- my friends had had it before and loved it. We got something with cubed dry bean curd and pickled cabbage and other things and it was fabulous. The one thing I have had and would not order again was the Ma Po Tofu with pork -- it had no spice and no intensity, I guess it was designed for the American-Chinese preferring crowd. Next up is the Turnip Cake, the owner was shocked when she found out today that I had not yet ordered it. I have seen it and it looks different from the Shangri-La version. Sorry for the long post but this place is really a gem.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: GretchenS

                    Great report, Gretchen. I'll change up my takeout from my usual Mulan (Waltham) or Formosa Taipei. Have you had any spicy fish dishes or pan-fried dumplings?

                    1. re: bear

                      Not yet. Funny, I just added Mulan to my rotation and the first time there ordered their House Special spicy fish and loved it. Look forward to hearing what you think about Taipei Gourmet, my neighbors had been regulars at Formosa Taipei and have switched allegiances to Taipei Gourmet entirely.

                      1. re: bear

                        I tried the spicy fish from the lunch menu, see above, and was not happy.
                        Gretchen, thanks for the heads up on the Pork with bamboo shoots and dried bean curd and Twice-Cooked Pork. I had stayed away from them since I wasn't sure what would come out.

                        http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                        1. re: Ferrari328

                          I personally would go with the former. For my preference Shangri-La does a better job with the twice-cooked pork. I love your lunch posts, by the way, they have led me to some good places I might not have tried otherwise.

                          1. re: Ferrari328

                            Thanks to both of you. Ferrari, that brown sauce on the fish looks a little different from the one at Formosa Taipei, which I like although last time I ordered it the heat was lacking. I didn't order it extra spicy, though, so that's what I'll do next time. I thought maybe the dishes would be close to identical, given the relationship between the restaurants.

                            Gretchen, I've had the House Special spicy fish from Mulan and loved it. Lots of heat, and very different from the dish at Formosa Taipei. Mulan has more of a green chili heat, and Formosa Taipei more ma la when it's on.

                            1. re: Ferrari328

                              Is this place related to Asia Gourmet in Concord?

                              1. re: hargau

                                It was opened by the original chef and hostess from JoJo Taipei in Allston.

                                1. re: hargau

                                  Only in a very roundabout way ;-). As you know Asia Gourmets owners used to own Formosa Taipei and the current owner of this place used to work at Formosa Taipei.

                                  http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                  1. re: Ferrari328

                                    Someone needs to draw a family tree for all these places!

                                    1. re: hargau

                                      I tried starting one and gave up in frustration !

                          2. So after Gretchens post I had to go and try the Twice Cooked Pork! It was really tasty with tender pork and crisp cabbage and peppers. Even the tofu triangles were good and I'm not a fan of tofu. This is a very traditional Chinese dish and was competently executed with a hint of heat included. It was good enough that I finished the whole dish and I normally don't do that even at lunch. I had asked about this dish previously, hoping it was made with pork belly so I already know that this would be the traditional loin.

                            http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                             
                            1. They just got voted #25 best Chinese Restaurant in the US by Travel and Leisure. http://www.travelandleisure.com/artic...
                              I really like this restaurant and hope it does well but Best in the US? Not sure how much actual research went into this list.

                              http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Ferrari328

                                Ditto everything you just said!

                                1. re: Ferrari328

                                  I had lunch there last week and based on a single bowl of soup and a shared order of mini juicy buns, definitely will be going back. My overall impression was the place is solid but not over the top.

                                  25th best in the US? Probably not. That kind of statement makes me wonder how they come up with those rankings anyway.

                                2. Thanks to GretchenS who pointed out that they actually serve the soup dumplings. The soup dumplings are listed on the menu as Steamed Mini Juicy Buns and I did inquire during my first visit if this was in fact soup dumplings and was told no, so I never tried them until today. You get 8 small dumplings with perfect skins and filled with delicious pork and soup. The skin was tender but strong enough to hold the soup and the only drawback was that there could have been more soup inside. The dipping sauce was OK but I must admit I liked the sauce at Szechuan's Dumpling up the street better, it had a stronger vinegar and ginger flavor. The jury is still out on who had the better dumpling, I'll try SD again later when they have settled in a bit. TG now offers free Wi-Fi.

                                  http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                   
                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ferrari328

                                    Aren't we lucky to have two such great options, so near each other? Glad you enjoyed these, even with your caveats.

                                    Additional Taipei Gourmet news: on request they can usually make their twice-cooked pork with pork belly, and also on request they can make it "Taiwan-style" which is a different sauce, and which the owner says is better (but she would, she is Taiwanese!). That is next on my list to try.

                                  2. I finally tried the twice-cooked pork today, made with pork belly (ask for it Chinese-style to get the belly, otherwise they use loin, as they tell me most Americans prefer that). This is simply outstanding, Ferrari328 and other twice-cooked pork belly fans: run, don't walk!! As it happened, friends were already eating when I arrived and asked me to join them, so while I waited for my food I sampled their "cold black fungus" (delicious wood ear mushrooms on weekend menu) and spicy beef tendon (tasty but not my favorite texture), as well as a mini juicy dumpling, delicious as always. But nothing was as good as that twice-cooked pork....

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: GretchenS

                                      Went there for lunch today intending to try the Chinese Twice cooked pork but they wanted an additional $2 to make it with pork belly so that was a no go since their lunch prices are already on the high side at $7.99. Funny, normally pork belly is cheaper than loin. Had the beef with spicy long beans instead and it was just OK. The beans were nicely spicy.

                                      http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                      1. re: Ferrari328

                                        Interesting, they didn't tell me that and I never looked at the bill, just paid it. I have had it again and loved it again so the $2 will not deter me. Plus it is two meals for me (leftovers make outstanding fried rice).

                                    2. A colleague and I went for lunch today and it was very good, as usual. We shared the mini juicy dumplings, and two lunch specials: the shredded pork with dried tofu and bamboo shoot* and the flounder filets in spicy Szechuan sauce. *They didn't have bamboo shoot, the owner told us she has not been able to find it anywhere, even in NY, but she suggested subbing Chinese chives which sounded good to us. All three dishes were excellent, the fish looked a bit goopy (as you can see) but was fresh and light-tasting and we would definitely get it again. We also really enjoyed the pork and they went well together. The hot and sour soup was more interesting than I had remembered and had some nice chewy sliced black mushrooms in it. The lunches are all $7.99 and I ended up with probably half the pork leftover because the portions are generous and we really didn't need the dumplings but ate every last one.

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. Tried this place tonight for the 1st time. The room is way too loud, very uncomfortable. The pork noodle soup with pickled cabbage was very bland, tasted like dish water.The thick white noodles in it were good but would have been nicer with some sort of sauce or broth with some flavor. The soup dumplings were ok but not much soup and thick skins. The ones at Asia Gourmet are better i think. Szechaun spicy Wontons i couldnt even eat cause they dumped raw sugar(i think thats what it was) on top and they were so gritty it was like sand... my dc liked them though and didnt mind the grittiness. Diced chicken with hot peppers was ok but nothing special. Tasted like bits of teriyaki chicken cooked on the grill with some dry hot peppers. Kinda reminded me of the chicken the hand you on toothpicks at every mall food court. Overall I wasnt very impressed. I'm sure we could have ordered better but the loudness of the room is enough to keep me from trying again. Also service wasnt very good.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: hargau

                                          Update: up most of the night with msg/salt overdose and growling stomach.. going to toss the leftovers which is really something for me! bummer

                                          1. re: hargau

                                            Such different experiences within a few hours of each other... hope you feel better soon.

                                            1. re: hargau

                                              This makes me sad. These are nice people and in my many experiences there they make excellent food. Hope you feel better soon. I am looking forward to my leftovers.

                                              1. re: GretchenS

                                                makes me even sadder! Just checked with my dining companion, and same issue with her...cramps, etc.... ugghhh

                                          2. We tried it this week for the first time. We used to visit Formosa Taipei pretty regularly, but at some point it seemed like the chef changed, and we stopped. We recognized a woman (the owner?) from Formosa Taipei here.

                                            We had the xiao long bao, 3 cups tofu, and pea sprouts. The xiao long bao were fine but not great (I've pretty much given up on ordering them in Boston and usually get my fix in other cities like Toronto; these are not going to change that). The 3 cups tofu and pea sprouts were both good. The food reminded me of Formosa Taipei's, but served on real dishes instead of in takeout containers.

                                            The staff is definitely friendly, and the food is solid; as others have said, it's not really a destination spot though.

                                            1. Decided to visit Taipei Gourmet Lexington for their weekend Taiwanese Dian Xin and it's served 11:00AM to 04:00PM. They have a separate menu, it can be partially found on their website and it changes weekly. At noon it was BUSY and LOUD. I had the soup dumpling that was completely lacking the soup. The Taiwanese Pan Fried Dumplings on the other hand was excellent. Thin wrapper, crisp on the bottom with a nice filling and an excellent dipping sauce.

                                              http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                               
                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Ferrari328

                                                I got the Taiwanese pan-fried dumplings last night, remembering your post. They were fabulous! So glad you recommended them. Also got the salt and pepper fried chicken, which has morphed from the original hacked-up chicken wings into boneless dark meat, a huge portion for an app and just wonderful with deep-freid basil leaves on top.

                                                1. re: GretchenS

                                                  I get that chicken at Asia Gourmet in Concord sometimes, i cant quite figure out what part of the chicken it is. Seems to me is that its the hinge between the 2 sections of wing. Only the hinges... I guess they cut the normal wings in such a way that they get these too as a byproduct.

                                                  1. re: GretchenS

                                                    Thanks for the update on the salt and pepper chicken, I wasn't happy with the previous version, it was mostly bones.

                                                    1. re: Ferrari328

                                                      And I can also report that leftover salt and pepper chicken, reheated in a toaster oven, is almost as fantastic. (Agreed on the old version, glad she switched it up.)

                                                    2. re: GretchenS

                                                      Tried the updated version of Salt and Pepper Chicken and it was a much improved version. GretchenS, thanks much for the update, I would not have tried this one again without your posting. Also tried the Szechuan Spicy Wonton with spicy peanut sauce and wasn't too impressed. It also felt a bit gritty like it had sugar on it and I had the same feeling at Asia Gourmet so I wonder if this is something that's common on this dish?

                                                      http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                                      1. re: Ferrari328

                                                        really? At AG, i dont get that feeling and actually have enjoyed them. although they are not really as spicy as i would like so i save eating those for SG. . At TG i couldnt eat them, one bite and i spit it out.. i wonder what it is, Sugar? MSG? i dunno...

                                                        1. re: Ferrari328

                                                          Is AG the place in Concord? If so, I found both restaurants had poor renditions of Spicy Wontons. My best guess is the peanut powder that is sprinkled on top to be the powder from this chinese peanut candy that I used to eat. The powder was sweet, in not a good way and sweeter at the Concord place. Personally, I think this dish is to be avoided at both places.

                                                    3. I was going to have some Noodle Soup today for lunch when I noticed a Crispy Duck Rice Plate on the menu and I was a bit baffled that I had missed this previously but after speaking with the owner she said that this and a few other things was recently added. The rice plate had all the normal rice plate condiments and also a good amount of crispy and tended duck on the bone, this is really a steal for less than $8.

                                                      http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                                       
                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Ferrari328

                                                        Thanks for the info Ferrari328, that looks wonderful!