Taiwanese food has been making waves in NYC with new, trendy restaurants like 886, Win Son, Ho Foods, and Zai Lai, but there aren’t any exclusively Taiwanese restaurants in Westchester. As someone born and raised in Taichung, Taiwan, by a Taiwanese mom and American dad, I’ve had less luck finding my favorite comfort foods in the county. But after some digging around, I’ve found some Chinese and/or Pan-Asian places that offer impressive Taiwanese specialties.
A mix between Chinese, Japanese, and other foreign influences, Taiwanese cuisine is best known for its street food, such as the now-ubiquitous bubble tea, popcorn chicken, and pork buns (gua bao). Travel a bit around the Westchester, and you’ll also find beef noodles, braised pork over rice (lu rou fan), cold sesame noodles, stir fried rice noodles (mi fen), “three cup” chicken (san bei ji), and even some Chinese-style pastries to pair with your bubble tea. Here’s where to find some of my favorites near you:
Three Cup Chicken and Soup Dumplings at Mister Chen
265 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck; 914.777.1212
If you’re looking for the most authentic Taiwanese food in the area, you’ve got to hit up Mister Chen. Owner Paul Chen and I spent our youth in the same central city of Taichung, so the dishes here are quite literally out of our childhood memories. Adapted directly from his mother’s recipes, Taiwanese dishes at Mister Chen include braised beef noodle soup, Taiwanese mei fun, minced pork over rice, Three Cup Chicken, gua bao, cold sesame noodles, and sacha beef noodles. Although technically from Shanghai, the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Mister Chen are an homage to Michelin-starred Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung, where patrons can see their soup dumplings made on-site through a window.
Traditional Bubble Tea at 5Spice Tea House & Restaurant
11A S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco; 914.666.8882
5Spice Tea House & Restaurant takes its bubble tea seriously, with an entire page of its website devoted to it. Invented in Taichung in the ’80s, bubble tea, also known as or pearl milk tea, is made with chewy, brown sugar tapioca balls (called boba or pearls), topped with a mixture of black tea, sugar, ice, and milk. At traditional Taiwanese tea shops, it’s common to adjust the level of sugar and ice, switch up the “bubbles” for different chewy jellies, or change the type of tea from black to green or floral, swapping the milk for add-ins like honey, lemon, or fruit flavors. 5Spice’s impressive tea collection and dedication to traditional recipes makes for an authentic introduction to this international sensation.
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Fusion Takes on Gua Bao at Roc-N-Ramen
19 Anderson St, New Rochelle; 914.365.2267
Wayne Carrington’s Caribbean-influenced ramen joint is also a great place to get your gua bao fix. A fun, fusion take on a Taiwanese classic, these pillowy steamed buns, imported directly from China, come with fillings ranging from traditional braised pork, to a juicy, chef-favorite fried chicken. Creative and original specials include curried oxtail and spicy Bone Yard rib tip. Looking for even more flavor? Add pineapple to a regular pork gua bao for a summery, tropical twist. Vegetarians fear not, there’s also a succulent and crunchy fried tofu option. It’s not the most traditional gua bao, but it’s nabbed the essence of Taiwanese food’s fun and creativity.
Photos by Karen Sims
Chinese Pastries and Tea at Bubble Shop
365 Central Park Ave #7, Scarsdale; 914.723.1120
Bubble Shop is an unassuming mom-and-pop tea shop and bakery that’s been open for more than 30 years, even providing baked goods to BJ’s Wholesale. After moving out of Manhattan’s Chinatown more than a decade ago, Bubble Shop reopened in Scarsdale, where Westchester patrons can sample Chinese-style pastries such as mooncakes, egg tarts, sesame balls, and the fluffiest sponge cake you’ve ever eaten. The décor is humble, with a mishmash of food and Asian cooking appliances available for purchase (tea is mostly pick up and go) but the pastries, dumplings, and customer service are phenomenal, with regulars treated like close friends and family. Wash down some flaky red bean cake or a traditional rice dumpling (zongzi) with their “original-style” bubble tea.
Photo by Karen Sims
Taiwan Beer and Fried Chicken at Fantasy Cuisine
20 N Central Ave, Hartsdale; 914.358.9046
At Hartsdale favorite Fantasy Cuisine, the Taiwanese delicacies are often overshadowed by their popular soup dumplings, weekend hotpot, and Shanghainese classics. But Taiwanese food dominates the appetizers menu with a basil-laced, crispy Taiwanese popcorn chicken and a classic house special bun (gua bao) with pork chashu or sliced duck. Even the drink menu features Taiwan Beer: the crisp national lager with its iconic green label is perfect for washing down a generously sized bowl of beef noodles.
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