Paul Chen has eaten plenty of Chinese food in all its iterations and styles. The Scarsdale resident grew up in Taiwan until age 11, when his family came to the US and settled in Fairlawn, NJ. As an adult, he lived in Hong Kong from 2009 to 2017, and still owns restaurants there. With his first Westchester restaurant, the 80-seat Mister Chen, in the space that once housed Haiku, his concept is to offer the greatest hits of Chinese cooking. “My menu has the traditional Cantonese items that Americans expect from the cuisine but also Taiwanese and Shanghainese dishes.”
There is a soup-dumpling station (the steaming hot purses traditionally filled with pork and pork stock originated in Shanghai in 1875) and bowls of crispy Shanghai noodles with varying proteins. Representing Taiwanese cuisine are dishes such as shrimp mei fun (stir-fried vermicelli); pork-belly sandwiches; three-cup chicken made with soy sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese wine; and cold sesame noodles with peanut sauce and cucumber. “Most people are surprised but also fascinated by the unexpected dishes,” he explains.
One of Chen’s most influential experiences around Chinese food was his first job, at age 13, in his mother’s restaurant in Ridgewood, NJ. His mother, Michelle Chen, still plays a strong culinary role in his life, coming in two or three times a week to check on the sauces and to make sure the prep is being done correctly.
In that pursuit, Chen says freshness is of the utmost importance, and he gets deliveries every other day, not once or twice a week, like many restaurants. “We don’t over-order,” he explains.
He loves the Mamaroneck Avenue location, with the Metro-North up the street and all its varied food options. “I originally was close to opening in Greenwich instead, but the deal fell apart last minute,” he says. “I was depressed about it until one day, driving my kids home from swimming lessons, I mistakenly took a left instead of a right and ended up passing this location with the “For Lease” sign. I like to think it was fate.”
Continues Chen, “I hope to bring Flushing to Westchester,” referencing the Queens neighborhood’s robust Chinese population. “I have the word authentic in the name of my place for good reason.”
265 Mamaroneck Ave.