Yeh’s is a Taiwanese bakery that’s been recommended to me for a long time, but it’s taken me years to finally getting around to trying it. When I decided to revisit Main Street Imperial, which you can read about here, I decided I should do lunch so that I could try Yeh’s as well.
Yeh’s is located near Main Street Imperial which is not in downtown Flushing and is closer to the LIE. The bakery is very small with just two glass display cases. Unlike most Chinese bakeries, they have a much more limited selection consisting with a few types of cakes, cake rolls and traditional Chinese pastries such a sun cakes and moon cakes.
Sun Cake (Tai Yang Bing):
Sun cakes are a traditional Taiwanese pastry from Taizhong / Taichung. They are difficult to find outside Taiwan and last time I was in Taipei they were actually even difficult find to there with one bakery even jokingly telling me “go to Taizhong if you want those”. I believe they’re not that popular amongst younger generations. Anyhow, it’s a circular flaky pastry that looks similar to a wife cake (lao po bing) with a filling made of malt sugar. At Yeh’s the English name says “honey cake” or something like that and while the flaky exterior is normal, the filling does taste like honey which is not normal. However, I liked the honey flavor and it was much better than other sun cakes I’ve had in NY. It isn’t close to a real good one in Taiwan, but it’s a decent version and worth checking out. 7.75/10
This is what they are known for. It is a cake with cream custard filling and powdered sugar on top. The cake is extremely light and fluffy literally one of the lightest cakes I’ve ever had anywhere. The cream custard in the middle is also really light with the perfect level of sweetness (i.e. its sweet without being really sweet). While it’s really simple this is one of the best cakes I’ve had in Asian bakery even in Asia. I highly recommend you try this, it is really good. 8.75/10
Green Tea Roll:
This is another specialty. It’s a cake roll with green tea flavoring and vanilla cream in the middle. The cake is more dense than the Boston Pie and similar to pound cake. The green tea flavor is very light so you will barely notice it and the vanilla cream is again only slightly sweet. While not amazing I thought it was solidly good especially if like vanilla cake rolls as I do. 8/10
Overall, I really enjoyed this bakery a lot and if you like Asian style cakes then I highly recommend you try this place. I look forward to trying the rest of their cakes and pastries.
5725 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
Taiwanese food is definitely one of my favorite Chinese cuisines. It’s a delicious mix of southern Fujian food blended with regional cuisines from all over China that came about because the large influx of mainland Chinese immigrants to Taiwan during the Communist Revolution. However, I feel like people often tend to only associate Taiwanese food with street food and maybe beef noodle soup. While these are certainly great and delicious there is much more to Taiwanese food than these two types of food. Main Street Imperial is a Taiwanese restaurant whose strong points are not street food, but rather more home style type dishes.
The restaurant is not located in Downtown Flushing, but rather further down Main close to the LIE, in the 2nd area in Flushing that has many Chinese restaurants. It’s small and homey with some décor in that it has colorful pieces of paper that have various dishes written in Chinese on them. The servers are really nice and are pretty helpful although I’m not sure they really speak English very well. The other issue you’ll run into is that about half the menu is not translated into English and some dishes are listed only on the wall in Chinese. I’ve provided the characters of the dishes I ordered since some of them are not translated to English, so I’d suggest printing them out if you don’t read any Chinese.
Here’s what we got:
Sauteed Cabbage (Chao Gao Li Cai 炒高麗菜):
This is one of the house specialties. It’s a simple dish of cabbage sautéed with oil and garlic. While simple they do a nice job on this dish and it’s quite tasty. The cabbage retains some crispness and the oil and garlic compliment it well. It also has some wok hay (the smoky flavor you get from effectively smoking food by cooking it at a very high heat in a wok). Overall, this is a solid dish. 8/10
Oyster Omelette (Hao Zai Jian / Oh Ah Jian 蚵仔煎):
I almost never order this outside Taiwan because it’s so easy to screw up, but a friend wanted it and surprisingly it was much better than the 1st time I came here (so can’t tell you it wasn’t a fluke). The omelette was crispy and not overly gooey. The sauce was sweet, but not overpoweringly so and the oysters were decent tasting. Overall, I actually enjoyed eating this which is rare in the US. 7.5/10
Clams in Basil Sauce:
I didn’t order this dish, so I’m not actually sure what the exact Chinese name of it was on the menu. This was clams cooked in a slightly spicy light brown sauce with basil. This is a pretty common Taiwanese sauce. I thought the sauce was nice being slightly spicy, sweet and salty and I love basil so that was great as well. The clams were decent quality, but not amazing. 7.5/10 (could’ve been higher rating if they used better clams)
Three Cup Tofu (San Bei Tofu 三杯豆腐):
“Three cup” is a famous style of preparation that involves one cup of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil hence the name “three cup”. There is also sugar, ginger and basil in it as well. While three cup chicken is the most common it can also be cooked with other meats or tofu. This was fried cubes of tofu in the three cup sauce. The outside was perfectly crispy while the interior remained soft, which was great texture wise. The sauce was both sweet and salty as it should be with the basil being a nice compliment. Overall, this was one of the best dishes I’ve had here. 8.25/10
Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji 三杯雞):
Oddly unlike the three cup tofu, this dish ended up being not sweet whatsoever and was a little overly oily. The chicken was very nicely tender, which was the best part about the dish. It was an alright rendition, but a little too oily and plain flavor wise. Gu Xiang’s version is much better than this and flavor wise Liang’s Kitchens’ version was better, but Main Street did a better job than Liang’s actually cooking the chicken (i.e. it was very tender here). 7.5/10 (could be a higher rating if they improved the sauce)
Sesame Oil Kidney (Ma You Yao Zi 麻油腰子):
This is one of the house specialties that I read about on a Chinese blog. Its slices of kidney sautéed in sesame oil based sauce. The kidneys are cooked very well so they are perfectly tender and they did a good job so the metallic flavor you can get in kidneys is only slightly present. The sauce has a slight flavor from the sesame oil and has some soy sauce flavor as well and because they seared the kidneys at a high heat in the wok you get a bit of the smoke-y slightly burnt taste which is nice. If you like kidneys this is a very good rendition of kidneys. 7.75/10 (I like kidneys, but don’t love them otherwise it’d get a higher rating)
Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Jiao Yen Xia 椒盐虾):
This was on the wall and I saw a couple of tables order it, so I decided to try it. This is just typical salt and pepper shrimp, but they did a nice job on it. The batter wasn’t too heavy or oily and had good salty flavor. The shrimps were fresh and good sized. I don’t have too much more to add to this other that it was good and worth trying, probably one of the better versions I’ve had in NY. 8/10
Putz Fish (Bu Zi Yu 布子魚):
Putz is actually something I’ve never had and I’m not even sure I’d even heard of it until ScoopG on chowhound mentioned it. So I made it a point to try it this trip (you can read more about it here). I tried ordering the whole fish on two occasions, but both times on of the waitresses told me that the pieces were better quality and flavor so I should order those instead of the whole fish. The fish pieces were nicely cooked and tender. The sauce was a nicely light soy sauce based sauce that wasn’t overpowering. The thing that I ended up liking the best about this dish was the putz; it reminded me of a sweet olive. Overall, while not mind blowing this is a solid dish and I’d recommend giving it a try for something different. 7.75/10
Red Cooked Ribs (Hong Shao Pai Gu 紅燒排骨):
I was trying to order another dish, but the waitress told me that that dish was too similar to the Hakka stir fry (which I forgot to take a picture of), so she recommended this dish. These were ribs cooked in a style called “hong shao” which you braise meat in a sauce made up of ginger, garlic, chilli, sugar, soy sauce and rice wine. The sauce here was pretty thick, thicker than normal. The ribs were cooked decently although I’d have preferred them to be a little more tender. The sauce was just ok, I found it to be kind of bland. I probably wouldn’t order this again. 6.75/10
Can’t Taste Stinky Tofu (Chi Bu Dao Chou Dou Fu 吃不到臭豆腐 ):
This is another one of the house specialties. It literally translates to “can’t taste stinky tofu”, which I think it’s called because the way the chef cooks it he cooks out most of the stink, so it’s only faint. The stinky tofu is fried in a slightly spicy and salty red meat sauce with cabbage. It’s a bit hard to explain, but definitely order this dish it’s very good. 8.25/10
Fly Head (Cang Ying Tou 蒼蠅頭):
This is my favorite dish here. It translates to “fly head” (I have no idea why it’s called that) and its diced garlic chives, red chili, minced pork and fermented black beans all stir fried together. This dish is the type of dish you really need a hot wok for because the wok hay adds a whole new level to this dish. It’s spicy, salty, smoky and just delicious. This is the dish to come here for. 8.5/10
Overall, this is probably the best overall Taiwanese restaurant in New York and it’s worth your time to check out.
5914 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
When I heard that Liang’s Kitchen opened in Flushing, I almost immediately went there. Liang’s Kitchen is originally from the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, which is where most good Chinese food in LA is located. However, over time they expanded and have several branches in LA, a branch in Irvine and a couple branches in Northern California. I’ve eaten at the one in San Gabriel and the one in Irvine, which is fairly close to where my family lives. It’s generally been good dependable Taiwanese food, so I was quite excited to hear they had opened a branch in Flushing as good Taiwanese food has become somewhat difficult to find here.
Liang’s Kitchen actually isn’t straight up Taiwanese food; it’s supposed to be a take on the food that came from the migration of mainland Chinese to Taiwan. Many of these Chinese were military families who were part of the Kuomintang, some of whom intentionally moved to Taiwan in the 40s and some of whom fled to Taiwan in 1949 when the KMT lost against the Communists. Taiwanese food traditionally is southern Fujian food, but you will also find a lot of northern Chinese, Sichuan and other Chinese regional dishes as well. This is partially a function of the influence these military families had on Taiwan’s food culture. Last time I was in Taiwan I watched a documentary about these communities that surrounded or were on military bases where Chinese from a given province would all live together and then cook their regional food as part of community gatherings; the one I watched was about group of 30-40 families from Hunan that had kept cooking traditional Hunan dishes even generations after the original immigrants came.
The restaurant is located in the basement of the Best Western Hotel. It’s a brand new space; quite clean and reasonably nice. The walls have blown up pictures of their food, old pictures of Taiwanese military families and pictures of the chef and Liang family. This location isn’t on their website yet, but they have pictures of the CEO (Ivan Liang) and the new head chef, so I’m pretty sure that it’s an authentic location. The servers were reasonably nice and they speak English, so you shouldn’t have a problem if you don’t speak Chinese. However, certain appetizers and the entire main dish menu are only written in Chinese, so that will be sort of an issue. I’m going to write the characters of dishes we ordered that were on the Chinese only menu so that you can order them.
Here’s what we got:
Stewed Tofu (Lu Dou Fu Gan Si):
Lu wei is a type of Chinese cooking common in southern China, where you braise meats or tofu in a master stock made up of soy sauce, spices and other ingredients. This is actually smoked tofu that is stewed in a lu wei sauce. The version here was just okay, I didn’t think the lu wei sauce they used was flavorful enough, so while it tasted alright it was nothing to write home about. 7/10
Seaweed (Liang Ban Hai Dai Si):
This is a cold dish of long thin strips of seaweed tossed in sesame oil and mashed garlic. It tastes exactly how it sounds. The version here was decent, but not great. 7/10
Stir Fried Corn and Shrimp (Yu Mi Xia Ren 玉米蝦仁):
This is a very Taiwanese home cooking type of dish. It’s a simple dish with corn, shrimp and diced peppers stir fried with sesame oil and salt. The corn and shrimp were both very fresh and they were also generous with the amount of shrimp they gave. This version was quite good and I enjoyed it. 8/10
Beef Tendon Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Jin Mian):
Hong shao is another type of braising that is common in Chinese cuisine and it’s very common for the beef to be stewed in this manner for beef noodle soup in Taiwan, which is actually the national dish of Taiwan. This dish is pretty hard to get right as the beef and broth require a lot of skill and hard work to get right. The beef tendon was surprisingly good; it was very tender and flavorful, definitely the best beef tendon I’ve had in NY beef noodle soup (although the rest have generally been pretty bad). Unfortunately, the noodles were overcooked so they were kind of mushy although they tasted fine. The broth was decent; I wouldn’t say it was great or anything, but it had decent beef flavor and the pickled vegetable tasted good. Overall, it’s probably one of the better Taiwanese style beef noodle soups in NY although just decent on an absolute basis. 7.25/10 (8/10 for the beef tendon, 6.5/10 for the noodles and 7.25/10 for the broth)
Beef Pancake (Niu Rou Jia Bing):
This is a scallion pancake that is lathered with hoisin sauce then thinly sliced beef and cucumbers are layered on top and it’s wrapped into a burrito. I love this dish and Liang’s Kitchen is known for it. The scallion pancake was good; it was freshly fried and not oily although I do prefer it to be a little thinner. The beef was pretty decent and tasted nice with the hoisin sauce. Overall, the version here was pretty good. 8/10
Wontons in Hot Oil (Hong You Chao Shou):
This is an example of that military influence as this is a Sichuan dish that you can find at any Sichuan restaurant in NY. The sauce was nice; it had good tasting hot oil and a slight sweetness to it. However, it’s less spicy than any of the Sichuan places. The wontons were good as well with very thin skins and nice filling. The only problem was that if you leave the wontons in the sauce for too long they start to fall apart because the skins are so thin. The wontons are definitely better than most of the Sichuan places and the sauce was quite good, but it depends on whether you want it to be as spicy as the Sichuan places or not. 8/10
Shacha Beef with Water Spinach (Sha Cha Niu Rou Kong Xin Cai 沙茶牛肉空心菜):
Sha cha is a sauce that is made of soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chillis, dried fish and dried shrimp. The dish consists of sliced beef sautéed in a sha cha sauce put over boiled water spinach (kong xin cai). I thought it was pretty good although could’ve used a little more salt. 7.5/10
Five Flavor Steamed Pork (Wu Wei Bai Qie Rou 五味白切肉):
This is steamed thin slices of pork served with thinly julienned ginger and a sweet bean and garlic sauce. This turned out to be the best dish and the surprise of the night. The pork slices were very tender and they tasted really good with the ginger and bean sauce. I definitely recommend ordering this. 8.5/10
Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji 三杯雞):
This is a very typical Taiwanese dish consisting of chicken on the bone cooked in a sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil (hence the three cups) and it also has sugar, basil and ginger in it. The version here was a little different because it’s not sweet at all, but the sauce still tasted pretty good. The problem was that there was not enough meat, it was mainly bones. I have no issue with the meat being on the bone (some people don’t like that), but there was so little chicken that the dish ended up being very small even though it looks big. I think Gu Xiang’s version is better than this one. 7.5/10 (could’ve been higher if they gave more chicken meat)
Pork Chop Rice (Pai Gu Fan):
I got this to go for my girlfriend. Taiwanese pork chop rice is a staple dish in Taiwan; it’s a pork chop that has been pounded thin and is fried in a sweet potato flour batter and five spice (wu xiang fen). It’s usually served with condiments of lu rou (stewed ground pork sauce), suan cai (pickled mustard greens) and lu dan (stewed hard boiled eggs). However, here they only gave a very small amount of lu rou, no suan cai and instead gave another pickled cabbage that had red chilis and Chinese sausage in it and also pickled daikon. The pork chop was excellent maybe the best version I’ve had in NY or at least on par with 66 Lu’s next door which most people consider the best (although I think their quality has gone downhill a bit). It was tender, crispy, wasn’t oily and had good five spice flavor. The pickled vegetables and lu dan were good as well. The only problem was they gave you no lu rou, which I love. It also came with a nice light seaweed soup that was pretty good as well. 8.25/10
Overall, I enjoyed my meal here and this is definitively some of the best Taiwanese food in New York now. I hope that the quality stays good as Chinese restaurants in NY have this tendency to start strong and then fade.
133-51 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
Gu Xiang is one of my favorite Taiwanese restaurants in Flushing, I’ve written about them twice on chowhound, which you can see here and here. However, I wanted to do a more full review with pictures as I think they’re worth talking about.
When most people think about Taiwanese food they usually think about street food and while street food is certainly a part of the cuisine, there is a large part of the cuisine that is just as good and maybe better inside the owner’s home. In fact the best meal I’ve ever had in Taiwan was in a tiny restaurant that was located in their home. Gu Xiang gives you a small glimpse into that type of Taiwanese cuisine as the food tastes more home style. You come here for the regular dishes not their street dishes.
The restaurant is pretty small. The front part sells bian dang food (lunch box) to go and another part of the restaurant sectioned off to the left that sells bao zi (steamed buns) and also has some extra seating.
The service is brisk, but the people are pretty nice. I’m not really sure how well they speak English, but menu is written in English, so you can always point. Also, they also have a ridiculously good deal where you get 1 soup + 2 dishes for $15, it’s a ton of food and can easily feed 3 people.
Here’s what we got:
Clam Soup (Ge Li Tang):
This is a light clam soup flavored with ginger, white pepper and scallions. It’s very simple with the flavors of the ingredients all standing for themselves. I like this soup as it’s refreshing and is very much the type of thing you could eat at home all the time. 7.75/10
Sliced Lung By The Married Couple (Fu Qi Fei Pian):
This Sichuan dish sounds really weird in English, but it’s delicious. It’s a cold dish consisting of sliced beef, tripe, tendon and other offal parts in a ma la sauce (spicy and numbing). The actual pieces of meat were pretty decent, but the sauce was too weak. It didn’t have enough numbing (ma) or spiciness (la). You can get better versions at any of the decent Sichuan restaurants in NY. 6.75/10
Oyster Omelette (O Ah Jian):
Although I don’t generally order street dishes at Gu Xiang, a friend wanted this so we ordered it. O ah jian is a dish that is pretty hit or miss even in Taiwan. The version here was better than other versions I’ve had in NY as it wasn’t too gooey and was a bit crispy, the oysters tasted fine and the sauce was pretty decent. Although that’s not saying much as the version I’ve had at other places is just bad. End of the day the version it doesn’t hold a candle to a good version in Taiwan, but this is better than other versions you find in NY, which are generally pretty bad. 6.5/10
Sauteed Water Spinach (Kong Xin Cai):
Kong xin cai is a great vegetable that is like a better version of regular spinach. We asked for it prepared sautéed with oil, garlic and salt. The vegetable tasted fresh and was not overcooked, this was an excellent version. 8/10
Beef with Spicy Green Peppers (La Jiao Niu Rou):
This is my favorite dish here, the dish is sliced beef stir fried with spicy green peppers. It has this great flavor you get from cooking it correctly in a wok, I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s great. The beef is tender and the spicy green peppers give it such a good flavor. This is the exact type of thing you eat at home and they really prepare this dish exceptionally. 8.5/10
This was slices of squid, onions, basil, carrots, mushrooms and red peppers stir fried in a light brown sauce that was slightly sweet and spicy topped with minced cilantro. This almost tasted Thai, but not as spicy as a Thai dish would be. This dish was pretty self explanatory, but I thought everything went well together and the whole table liked this dish. 7.75/10
Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji):
This is a very typical Taiwanese dish consisting of chicken on the bone cooked in a sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil (hence the three cups). It also has sugar, basil and ginger in it. This was the first time I’ve ordered it at Gu Xiang, but I’m sorry I didn’t before. This is hands down the best version I’ve had in NY. This is pretty similar to what you get in Asia. The chicken is tender and the sweet and saltiness of the sauce combined with the basil is so good. I highly recommend this dish. 8.5/10
Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp (Xia Ren Chao Dan):
This is another home style dish consisting of scrambled eggs, shrimp and scallions. It tastes exactly like what it sounds like although it’s been cooked in a wok, so it’s got a bit of that wok flavor. This was quite good, the egg was perfectly, the shrimp tasted fresh and the scallions added a nice flavor to the dish. 8/10
Sauteed Corn, Peas and Tomato:
I like these types of dishes although a lot of people at the table complained they could cook this at home in two seconds. That said it tasted good, it’s simply corn, peas and tomato sautéed with oil and salt. I liked this, but I think it might be a little too simple for some people. 7/10
Sha Cha Beef with Kong Xin Cai (Sha Cha Niu Rou Kong Xin Cai):
Sha cha is a sauce that is made of soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chillis, dried fish and dried shrimp. My friend asked for this as it’s not on the menu, it was sliced beef sautéed in a brown sauce that uses sha cha sauce put over kong xin cai. I thought it was pretty good although could’ve used a little more salt. 7.5/10
Tea Smoked Duck:
To caveat this, I don’t like tea smoked duck as a dish. One of my friends ordered it and I ate some because it was there. The duck was nice and tender, the skin was nicely crispy as well, but the smoky flavor of the tea leaves and camphor aren’t my favorite flavor although I will eat it if it’s in front of me. The mantou were a little dried out, but this was a decent version of the dish. 6.75/10
Overall, I really like Gu Xiang for their more home style Taiwanese food and I’d highly recommend trying it out. When you go, I’d avoid their street food as most of it is just okay. Stick to a lot of their stir fries and in particular I recommend getting the beef with spicy green peppers and the three cup chicken.
135-38 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11355
I’ve been meaning to try Red Chopsticks 紅筷子 for a long time as it is probably the only Taiwanese restaurant in Flushing I hadn’t tried, so I finally got around to it last weekend.
When most people think about Taiwanese food they instantly think about street food and Taiwanese street food is certainly among the best in the world. However, there is a lot more to Taiwanese food, in fact the best meal I’ve ever had in Taiwan was not a street meal, but a meal in some tiny family run restaurant that was literally in their house. The menu here is not really about the street food (even though they have it) as no one was ordering street food; the clientele was mainly Taiwanese families ordering more family style dishes, so I tried to order more like them.
It’s a little restaurant with no English sign with signs in Chinese advertising their specialties. I’m pretty sure that the restaurant used to be a Korean restaurant as the décor does not look Chinese at all with a lot of dark wood. However, it is a nice change as it’s much nicer than most Chinese restaurants in Flushing. It has a very nice sort of homey atmosphere, kind of feels like being in Asia.
The service was good and everyone was very nice, I’m not sure how their English is as we never spoke to them in English, but the menu is translated to English so you should be fine no matter what. Although they do have several specials written only in Chinese on the wall, which I didn’t notice until the end of the meal as another table had a crab sticky rice on their table and I couldn’t find it on the menu then I noticed it on the wall.
Here’s what we got:
Cold Jelly Fish (Liang Ban Hai Zhe):
This was a typical preparation of sliced cold jellyfish tossed in sesame oil and salt and accompanied by sliced sweet pickled radish and carrots. This was very good, the jellyfish had that good almost crunchy texture and when accompanied with the sesame oil and radish it was just right. 8.5/10
Stinky Tofu (Chou Dou Fu):
I had heard that Red Chopsticks makes the best stinky tofu in NY. Now that’s not a very high bar as the best I’ve had is mediocre, but I had to give it a try anyhow. The tofu was the correct texture where it’s crispy on the outside and retained a good interior of being softer although not super soft. The soy sauce was good and the pickled cabbage on top was very good, it had a good sweet flavor with chilis for spice. The thing that was missing was that it was not stinky enough. Stinky tofu is like a cheese where it needs a certain level of stinky flavor to give it good flavor. Overall, it was the best version I’ve had in NY although if you’ve had it in Taiwan this won’t quite get you there. Also it made it a lot better when you ask for chili paste, which is the normal way I eat it in Taiwan. 7.5/10
Taiwanese Hamburger (Gua Bao):
Gua bao is my all-time favorite Taiwanese street food. It’s sort of famous now in NY because of people like David Chang (Momofuku) and Eddie Huang (BaoHaus). It’s a white steamed bun with stewed pork belly, cilantro, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetable and this brown sweet powder stuff. I pretty much always have to at least try it everywhere. However, the version here is pretty mediocre and I wouldn’t recommend ordering it. The pork belly wasn’t tender enough and wasn’t that flavorful and it didn’t have enough condiments. 6.5/10
Chicken Roll (Ji Juan):
This is not that common of a dish to find in NY. It’s minced pork and fish paste mixed with various spices wrapped in a thin bean curd sheet that is steamed and then pan fried in oil. You eat it with sweet orange sauce that kind of tastes like a better version of the duck sauce you get in Chinese take-out joints. They make this really good here, this is pretty much exactly what it tastes like in Asia. The bean curd skin is super crispy almost like phyllo dough and the inside paste is tender and flavorful. It goes really well with the sweet sauce. This was the best dish of the night and I would come back here again just for this. Btw they list it in English as a “pork roll” on the menu. 8.75/10
Drunken Pork Ribs (Zui Pai Gu):
Most Taiwanese are Hokkien / Min Nan (southern Fujian) and you can really see the Fujian influence in this dish. I’ve had almost the exact same dish in the Fujian part of Chinatown in Manhattan. It’s spare ribs and taro that has been lightly battered and fried and then sautéed in a semi-sweet sauce that uses alcohol (I think rice wine) and garlic. I always like sauces like this one. The rib meat was tender and the taro was cooked nicely. This was a good dish. 7.75/10
Sticky Rice in Bamboo (You Fan):
They advertise that they have these bamboo rice dishes, where the rice is cooked in hallow bamboo shoot. This was you fan, which translates to “oil rice”. It’s basically seasoned glutinous rice with mushrooms and some other vegetables. The version here was decent, but in Taiwan it’s a lot more flavorful, I thought it was a bit on the bland side. 7/10
Pan Fried Flounder (Gan Jian Long Li):
A lot of tables seemed to be getting seafood, so I decided to get a pan fried flounder. This was a typical preparation where the fish was covered in corn starch and then was pan fried in oil on both sides. Soy sauce was poured over it with some shallots. I thought it was pretty good, the meat was tender and clean tasting and the sauce goes great with it. One of my friends thought that the skin should be crispier, but I liked it and would get this again. 7.75/10
Salt and Pepper Frog (Jiao Yen Tian Ji):
This was salt and pepper battered pieces of frog topped with fried minced garlic and scallions. The batter was crispy and although it looked kind of heavy / oily, it was actually not that heavy and had a nice salty flavor. The meat was very tender and good tasting. A friend of mine described frog meat perfectly as “it tastes like chicken, but has a more tender consistency somewhere between fish and chicken”. The bones were still in, which is always a little annoying about frog, but other than that it was pretty good. 7.75/10
Razor Clams with Basil:
This was razor clams out of the shell stir fried with onions, basil and peppers in slightly sweet black bean sauce. My friends thought it almost tasted more like a Thai dish than a Chinese dish as the flavor of the basil was very apparent. The razor clams were decent and the sauce went decently with it, but overall I didn’t love this dish, it wasn’t bad, just nothing really stood out about it. 7/10
A Vegetable (A Cai):
A cai is a vegetable that literally translates to “A vegetable”, it’s a little like spinach, but has a more firm consistency. It is very common in Taiwanese cuisine. It was blanched and quickly stir fried with some oil and garlic. It was a decent, but not great version. 7.25/10
Egg With Crab:
his was weird and I thought I was ordering a typical Taiwanese dish which is scrambled egg that normally is served with either tomato or shrimp, but in this case it said it was served with crab. However, what came out was a big egg omelet with scallions and blue crab cut up, but still in the shell. It looked good, but the crab was not really noticeable unless you pulled a piece out and the egg was a little overcooked. I wouldn’t order this again. 6.25/10
Overall, I enjoyed the meal, it had some hits and misses, but I will definitely come back as I could tell that there are more gems to be found here because some of the dishes we had were quite good.
136-17 41st Ave
Flushing, NY 11355
**Note this restaurant has moved, new address below**
I reviewed Baohaus a while ago on chowhound, which you can see here, I liked it a lot and I go there somewhat frequently to fulfill my cravings for gua bao and I also really like their fried chicken bao because it tastes just like ji pai (Taiwanese fried chicken) you get in Taipei.
I got an email from them (I signed up for their email list) saying they have a Monday Special. I went in there last Monday and got it to go. It was pretty good albeit a little on the small side.
Here’s what was in it:
Fish Cake with Smoked Ham Hock: This was a fried fish cake with bits of smoked ham hock in it. It was freshly fried and the fish cake tasted homemade, it was good although it was a little on the salty side. 7.75/10
Eight Treasure Bao: This was a bao (steamed white bun) filled with a stir fry made of sliced mushrooms, carrots, dried tofu, bamboo shoots and maybe one or two other things. It was quite good, the bun was fresh tasting and the stir fry had good flavor and wasn’t overly greasy or salty. 7.75/10
Dong Po Rou: Dong po rou is made by pan frying and then braising pork belly in soy sauce, Chinese rice wine and caramelized sugar. It’s very tender and fatty since its pork belly. I really like this dish a lot. The version here was pretty tasty, it was very tender and had pretty decent flavor. 7.75/10
Overall, I thought it was good not mind blowing, but solidly good. Worth trying if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
238 E 14th St (between 2nd and 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Typically, I haven’t been the biggest hot pot fan, I generally like it, but I never crave it. However, for some reason recently I’ve really been craving it; maybe because it’s been so cold, I don’t know. I asked around and some people recommended Baidu Shabu Shabu in Flushing, so I met up with a friend and stopped in. Fyi, I don’t believe it says Baidu anywhere in English only in Chinese, it says Mapo Szechuan in front.
Baidu is surprisingly upscale for Flushing, its brand new looking, very clean and quite modern looking. Looks similar to some of the place you get hot pot in Taiwan. Its two levels with the bottom level having a full bar with a big TV and the upstairs having tables, some of which have TVs playing the Chinese channels (ours did).
The service was fine, not super attentive, but that’s generally how hot pot is anyhow since you’re serving yourself. There was about a 20 minute wait when we were there as the place is definitely pretty popular. My friend knows the owners (who weren’t there that day) and it’s actually the same family that owns the Ollie’s chain in Manhattan.
They have a full Sichuan menu and a full hot pot menu, but we only got the hot pot. I did see some Sichuan dishes on some people’s tables that looked pretty good, but most people seemed to be there for the hot pot.
Here’s what we got:
You have a variety of choices for broth and you can get the split pot where you get two different broths. My friend wanted to get the kimchi broth, getting the kimchi broth was against my better judgment (kimchi in a Chinese place), but I was so hungry that I just went with whatever my friend wanted. Although later I talked to another friend who eats there frequently and she told me that’s actually by far the worst broth and that we should have gotten the duck broth. The broth was alright, it had a kimchi flavor, but it was a bit weak in flavor. Honestly though after a little while we had diluted the broth so much by cooking stuff in it and asking for more broth that it had no kimchi flavor at all and I probably wouldn’t have noticed the broth no matter what flavor it was. 6.75/10
This was quite good, the beef was clean and fresh tasting unlike a lot of hot pot places I’ve been to in NY where you could tell the beef was old (gray spots, odd looking meat etc). We actually ended up getting two orders of it because we were so hungry and it was very good. Beef is always my favorite part of hot pot. 7.75/10
This was also good as well, clean and fresh tasting again. The meat was a little fattier, but it tasted great as well. 8/10
I was a little sketched out ordering the seafood platter because typically the seafood I’ve gotten at hot pot places in NY has been pretty bad quality, but again the seafood all tasted pretty fresh and it all came out pretty good when you cooked it. 7.5/10
This was good as well. All the mushrooms were fresh and tasted great when you cooked them. Also, I those seashell looking things are actually fishcakes that taste like Japanese kamaboko if you know what that is. We were confused as to why they were part of the mushroom platter, but they were good nonetheless. 7.5/10
The vegetables were very fresh and tasted great. 8/10
They have a sauce bar where you can make sauces and they also have a rice cooker there as well which is actually really convenient because you can just go get your own rice. I got ponzu sauce, sha cha sauce (a sauce made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilis, fish, and dried shrimp) and then I mixed a sort sauce of sesame oil, homemade soy sauce, chili oil, minced garlic and cilantro. All the sauces were good and I particularly liked the sauce I created. 8/10
Overall, I liked it a lot and I’d definitely come back. It was probably the best non-Sichuan hot pot I’ve had in NY. Highly recommend.
37-04 Prince Street
Queens, NY 11354
Food Gallery 32 is located on 32nd Street in the middle of Koreatown in a space that used to be a bank. It was supposed to open in the summer, but it finally just opened very recently.
It looks similar to what a lot of food courts in malls in Asia look like and it has a mix of Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese food. There are 3 floors, the 1st floor has all the actual stalls and up front there is a single cash register area where you order your food and they give you a buzzer that buzzes when your food is ready. The seating is located on the 2nd floor and the 3rd floor. It also looks like the 3rd floor is going to have a crepe / drink place and Red Mango is moving from their current location into the 1st floor. Everything is brand new and very clean.
Here’s a list of the places:
- Boon Sik Zip: serves boon shik food which is basically Korean street food
- Pastel: serves Japanese food like katsu, curry rice, omelette rice etc.
- O-de-ppang: serves Japanese food such as donburi, teppanyaki, onigiri
- Bian Dang: serves Taiwanese food, it’s the guys from the NYC Cravings truck. Bian Dang means lunchbox in Chinese
- Big Bowl: serves ramen and various Korean noodle dishes
- Hanok: serves more regular Korean food with various chigae, bokum dishes etc
- Jin Jja Roo: serves Korean-Chinese food
Here’s what I’ve tried so far:
Soon Dae (Korean Blood Sausage):
This was from Boon Sik Zip. Soon dae is a Korean blood sausage that is filled with rice which you dip in some seasoned salt. Soon dae is a pretty popular dish and I like it a lot when it’s done right. Unfortunately, I think the one here might have been frozen before because it was sort of dry and the flavor wasn’t that great. 6.5/10
This was from Boon Sik Zip. I don’t know why I always order this at Korean boon shik places because it’s usually been sitting around too long and the batter is always too thick, but I made that mistake again. The squid itself was fine and it was freshly fried, but the batter was too thick and oily. 6.25/10
Odeng (Fish Cake Soup):
This was from Boon Sik Zip. The soup itself wasn’t bad, it was fairly light and not overly salty. The fish cakes themselves were decent although I think they were a frozen kind based on the texture which was too soft, homemade fish cake have a much firmer texture and more flavor. It was decent though. 6.75/10
Beef Kim Bap:
This was from Boon Sik Zip. This was pretty decent, the flavoring was good and the ingredients tasted good. The rice was fine as well. The beef was a little dry, but aside from that it was pretty decent. 7/10
Jja Jang Myun (Noodles in Brown Sauce):
This was from Jin Jja Roo. This is one of the staple Korean-Chinese dishes and its noodles in a dark sauce that has a lot of onions and pieces of pork in it. The noodles were fine and were reasonably al dente, however the sauce was a bit bland, so I thought it was just so so overall. 6.5/10
Kkan Poong Gi (Fried Chicken in Spicy Garlic Sauce):
This was from Jin Jja Roo. This is another typical Korean-Chinese dish. This was much better than the jja jang myun. The chicken was fried well and was nice and crispy. The sauce was a bit tangy and more spicy than usual which I liked. I think Hyo Dong Gak’s version is better, but this was pretty good and better than Shanghai Mong down the street. 7.5/10
This is from Pastel. I’m not sure why it was called “Hambak Steak”, but its hamburger covered in gravy with rice. You find this at a lot of Japanese places. The hamburger meat itself was cooked decently and wasn’t dry. The gravy was a bit tangy and sweet, I’d prefer it less sweet though. Overall, it was pretty decent. 7.25/10
Pork Chop Over Rice:
This is from Bian Dang. This is a very typical dish in Taiwan and its’ called pai gu fan in Chinese. It is a fried pork chop over rice that has a stewed pork belly sauce and pickled vegetables on it. The pork chop was cooked nicely and was tender. However, it didn’t have nearly enough five spice powder in it, so it was a bit under flavored. The meat sauce had decent flavor, but was too salty. The pickled vegetable was decent. Overall, it has potential, but they need to work on the seasoning a bit if they changed it a little bit I think they’d have a pretty decent product. 6.75/10
Zong Zi (Chinese Tamale):
This was from Bian Dang, they gave it to me for free as an opening promotion. It contained glutinous rice, peanuts, dried shrimp, pork, Chinese sausage, green beans, raddish and mushrooms. The filling was good, but the rice was a little too mushy, if they steamed it correctly it would be pretty good. 6.75/10
Overall, it’s sort of a mixed bag as some of the food I tried was pretty decent and other dishes were mediocre. However, it is very cheap and quite convenient. I plan on coming back and trying more dishes to find out what else might be good.
11 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
Yu’s Garden is located in the small Chinese / Asian area of Irvine off the Jeffrey exit on the 5 freeway. There are several Chinese places in the two strip malls there and most of them are Taiwanese. In general, the best place out of all of them is probably A&J (Ban Mu Yuan), but A&J is really the Taiwanese take on mainly northern Chinese dishes or Taiwanese breakfast on the weekends, so they don’t have a lot of more “classic” Taiwanese dishes. They’ve left that to places such as Yu’s Garden.
I believe Yu’s Garden either changed owners or management because the manager who runs the place is the lady who used to run Nice Time Deli which is about 3 doors down. She is extremely friendly and the service is actually pretty good here. Both the service and the food have improved since the prior management.
The place is fairly small and probably sits around 25 people or so. It has two types of food: 1) a steam table type set up with various cold dishes and hot dishes laid out on display; it will remind you of a bian dang (lunch box) type restaurants in Taiwan and 2) an actual sit down menu. The food at the steam table part is actually pretty decent, but in this trip we ordered off the sit down menu. When you sit they will ask if you if you want zhou (rice porridge) or rice with your meal and then will bring you a big bowl of it.
Here’s what we got:
Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji):
Three cup chicken is called three cup chicken because it uses sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. The dish consists of diced chicken on the bone that has been cooked with the previously mentioned ingredients as well as basil, sugar and ginger in a clay pot kind of thing. The result is tender chicken that is slightly crispy on the outside is a semi sweet sauce. The chicken was nice and tender and easy to get off the bone. The sauce was not overly sweet or gloppy and tasted good. I thought this was a good rendition of the dish. 7.75/10
Egg Omelet with Sliced Radish:
The picture looks like a regular omelet however there are finely sliced radish strips in the omelet, but given radish’s mild flavor it will taste pretty similar to a regular omelet albeit with more texture. This was pretty good and a nice compliment to the other dishes. I recommend getting some chili oil or paste to eat with this. 7.5/10
Shredded Pork with Dried Tofu (Xiang Gan Rou Si):
I’m a big fan of this dish which is shredded pork sautéed with a type of dried smoked tofu (dou gan). Sometimes they put chilis or sliced spicy green peppers in it as well, but they do not here. The pork was nice and tender and the dou gan tasted nice as well. It was not overly salty or oily either. However, I did think it was missing a dimension of flavor that a great version has and I would’ve preferred some spicy peppers and maybe some more scallions, but overall it tasted good. 7.5/10
Egg Flower Soup (Dan Hua Tang):
I originally ordered fish ball soup, but they ran out so I ordered this because my sister likes it. While I’m not a huge fan of egg drop soup the version here was surprisingly good. It was very light and not overly salty. It also tasted of sesame oil which was a nice touch with the flavor of the egg. It turned out to be a good compliment to the meal. 7.5/10
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and I think the food has gotten better overtime. It’s not a destination restaurant as you can get better in the SGV, but if you’re in the area or if you live in OC and want Taiwanese food it’s worth checking out.
5408 Walnut Ave
Irvine, CA 92604
Shi Lin (士林夜市) is Taipei’s largest and most famous night market. Night markets are big outdoor marketplaces that have tons of street food, games, shopping and other small stores. They are a lot of fun and happen to have some wonderful food. This night market is massive and has a huge amount of food vendors.
The main area for food vendors is an indoor area away from the main night market that has rows and rows of food vendors. I always look to see who’s busy as local Taiwanese will really flock to a place if it’s very good. We saw a huge line at Hao Da Da Ji Pai (豪大大雞排), which has no English name. We decided that is where we were going to eat (we had eaten a lot earlier so that is why I don’t have more pictures).
Hao Da Da Ji Pai serves a big fried chicken chop (雞排) that is similar to a pork chop except chicken. Taiwanese fried chicken tastes much different than American fried chicken because the batter is different; I believe it uses corn starch and sweet potato starch. It’s very crispy, not as oily as American fried chicken and the batter has a lot of five spice powder (wu xiang fen / 五香粉) and white pepper in it, so it’s quite flavorful. They dust it with a red pepper powder. It’s awesome and the version here is probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The outside is so crispy and flavorful, but the inside remains perfectly juicy. Really amazing fried chicken. It also happens to be massive, one piece is about as big as your face. 8.75/10
I highly recommend this if you are at Shi Lin although I’d recommend sharing it as it’s a lot of fried chicken for one person (I wasn’t really hungry after I ate it!).
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a Taiwanese chain of xiao long bao (soup dumplings) restaurants that are probably the most famous in the world and among the best in terms of quality.
They have multiple branches in Taiwan, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Los Angeles, Malaysia and Sydney. I’ve always been surprised that they have been able to maintain their quality given the number of branches they have. Normally, restaurants that branch out like that tend to lose quality over time. I’ve been to the Fu Xing branch in Taipei, the Paragon branch in Singapore and Arcadia branch in LA and all of them are quite good (if anyone at DTF is listening…please open one in NY, you’ll crush the competition).
This review is for the Fu Xing branch in Taipei. The restaurant is located in the basement food court at the SOGO department store on Zhong Xiao East Road. There is always a fairly large wait and the waiter comes out gives you a number and a menu where you pre-order what you want, which is great because it’s extremely efficient. The restaurant is reasonably nice and the service is fine.
We only got two things, but multiple orders of it because we wanted to stick to the classics:
Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings):
The dumpling skins at Din Tai Fung are the best I’ve ever had; they are very thin and delicate, more so than any other version I’ve ever had. That is the where I think DTF really excels. They are among the best dumpling skins I’ve ever had. The filling is very good as well (the best I’ve ever had though goes to Fu Sing Shark Fin Restaurant in Hong Kong), the meat is great and the soup is light and not greasy at all. Just an all around great soup dumpling. 8.75/10 (9.25/10 for the skins, 8.5/10 for the filling)
Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian):
Beef noodle soup is one of the national dishes of Taiwan and DTF makes a pretty respectable version. Beef noodle soup in Taiwan is sort of similar to ramen in Japan in that there are tons of places that specialize in it and people tend to get pretty picky about it. I may not be as picky as I once was about it because in the NY a really good version doesn’t exist, so it’s rare that I get to have a really good bowl of it. The version here wasn’t the best I’ve ever had in Taiwan, but it was very good. The beef was excellent, very tender and flavorful. The noodles were excellent as well, al dente with good flavor. The broth was very good, not overly salty, that great hong shao (red cooking) flavor although I prefer mine a bit spicier and flavorful (the best versions I’ve had have a slightly deeper flavor). Overall though it’s a very good bowl of beef noodle soup. 8.5/10
DTF is very famous and famous for a good reason. If you are in an area with a DTF, I highly suggest going.
B2F., No.300, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd.
Da-an District, Taipei City 10654, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
(B2F of Fuxing SOGO Department Store)
Taipei is known for it’s large night markets. Night markets are big outdoor marketplaces that have tons of street food, games, shopping and other small stores. They are a lot of fun and happen to have some wonderful food. The largest and most famous is called Shi Lin (士林夜市), however there are many other night markets. One that is close to my friends’ condo is called Rao He (饒河) which as it turns out is the first night market in Taipei. It’s much smaller than Shi Lin with basically one long street in front of a big temple.
Hu Jiao Bao (Pepper Bun):
We saw a huge line in front of this stand and basically anytime you see a long line in Taiwan for food it’s almost guaranteed to be awesome. This was no exception, I think this might be one of the best street foods I’ve ever had. This was cooked like a cylinder oven very similar to how Indian naan bread is cooked. Not surprisingly the bun itself actually tastes fairly similar to Indian naan, but the inside has pork, minced mushrooms and scallions in it, which tastes very Chinese. The bread is awesome and tastes so good. The filling was amazing, really flavorful, think about the best dumpling you’ve ever had and this is better than that. So good. 9.25/10
Fruits in Taiwan are really good, here’s a pic of a fruit stand. The guavas were really good. 8.75/10
This was interesting, this was some type of preserved squid. It’s interesting as it’s much more firm than regular squid and they put a pretty good sauce that was a bit spicy and had a lot of garlic in it. 7.5/10
I think I’m the only person who likes this, but its roasted corn that is basted with a spicy soy sauce mixture. The version here was decent, but not the best I’ve ever had in Taiwan. 7.5/10
This is grilled squid that is basted with a soy sauce mixture. It’s pretty good, I like it with beer. 7.75/10
Squid Vermicelli Soup:
This isn’t actually in Rao He, but it’s in a small street stand that is close to Rao He. They serve something that is similar to oh ah mi sua (a famous oyster vermicelli soup), but instead of oysters, they put squid in it. The soup is fairly thick and has a mild taste, but they give you vinegar and chili oil, which go really well with the soup. They also put cilantro, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables (suan cai) in it as well. The squid is really good and tender. Overall, it was excellent. 8.5/10
Overall, a fun and good night market, I highly recommend for the hu jiao bao place.
Here’s a map to find it: https://www.raohe.com.tw/e4-1.htm
Yong He (永和) is an area in Taipei that is known for it’s Taiwanese breakfast. You will find many restaurants in the US serving Taiwanese breakfast and a great deal of them will be called Yong He. Taiwnese breakfast consists of things like sweet soy bean milk, salty soy bean milk (soy bean milk mixed with vinegar, pork floss, pickled vegetable and chili oil), fan tuan (a rice roll stuffed with pickled vegetables, fried crueller and pork floss), luo buo gao (fried turnip cake), shao bing (a baked wheat bread with sesame seeds) and you tiao (fried crueller).
Yong He Qing Zhou Dou Jiang Da Wang /永和清粥豆漿大王 is among the most famous of the breakfast places. In December 2009, I got a chance to try Yong He Qing Zhou Dou Jiang Da Wang and it more than lives up to it’s reputation.
Sweet Soy Bean Milk (Tian Dou Jiang):
This was the best version I’ve ever had, it’s made fresh at the restaurant. It’s served hot and comes out in a bowl. It’s not too sweet and has such a clean soy bean milk flavor, not chalky whatsoever. My GF doesn’t even like soy bean milk and she thought it was really good. I mean it’s pretty self explanatory, but simply amazing. 9.25/10
Salty Soy Bean Milk (Xian Dou Jiang):
This was also the best version I’ve ever had as well. Same soy bean milk as the sweet soy bean milk except it has vinegar, pork floss, pickled vegetable and chili oil in it. The vinegar causes the soy bean milk to curdle, so it sort of has chunks of tofu in it. Same thing, my GF doesn’t even like this stuff and was like this is really good. Amazing. 9/10
Egg Pancake (Dan Bing):
This is a thin pancake that has fried egg on it. Their version was outstanding, so fresh and the thick chili paste they gave you has some type of bean in it that was really good and matched up perfectly with dan bing. 9/10
Fried Turnip Cake (Luo Bo Gao):
This is different than the Cantonese version which I’m used to eating. It’s prepared the same way, but they put a different sauce on it, I believe it was some sort of oyster sauce, but different than the regular oyster sauce. These were amazing. The turnips were properly minced so that there weren’t strands in it. The ham in it was really good. They were fried perfectly, so they were crispy, but not oily at all. One of the best version I’ve ever had. 9/10
Rice Roll (Fan Tuan):
This is rice that is stickier than normal that is rolled up sort of like a sushi roll and stuffed with pickled vegetables (suan cai), fried crueler (you tiao) and pork floss (rou song). This was so good. The pickled vegetables were really good, I’m pretty sure that they make it themselves, I don’t know how to explain how taste, but the Taiwanese suan cai is one of my favorite pickled vegetables. Everything was just so good about this especially when you dip it into the xian dou jiang. 8.75/10
Wheat Pancake (Shao Bing):
They baked these fresh and they literally pulled them out of the oven when we ordered them. You take these and dip them in the dou jiang, again the best version I’ve ever had. 8.75/10
I can’t say enough about how good this place and it was also exceptionally cheap (3 of us at for $5 USD total). If you are in Taipei this is a “must go” type place.
No. 102, Section 2, FùXìng South Rd,