Beef noodle soup, fried chicken, Taiwanese breakfast food, and so much more.
Written byDiana Kuan
Taiwanese food draws mainly from southern China, especially Fujianese cuisine, but has influences from all over China and Japan, as well as from indigenous cultures on the island. Many consider Taiwanese beef noodle soup—with beef braised so long it almost melts into the broth—to be the national dish, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For many years, restaurants that identified as Taiwanese were nonexistent in New York, save for a few longtime stalwarts. Since the 1970s, Taiwanese immigrants in New York have been involved in the restaurant world, but mainly operating or cooking at restaurants that identified as Hunan, Sichuan, or another cuisine from China. Occasionally, dishes like three cup chicken or gua bao would appear on a menu, with no label to distinguish it as Taiwanese, as the cuisine was still relatively unknown to a wider New York audience.
Lately, however, there has been a renaissance. A new crop of Taiwanese restaurants have sprouted up the past few years around New York, and Flushing has become home to a cluster of spots that each have their own distinct personalities or specialties. And while there are plenty of food court stands classic sit-down restaurants to choose from, these are our favorite Taiwanese places in Flushing.
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A Flushing mainstay for the past 24 years, this restaurant near the Long Island Expressway was one of the first in the neighborhood to focus on Taiwanese classics. The interior hasn’t changed much over the years, but it’s the reliable comfort food favorites that draw people in over and over. The Fly’s Head, a classic Taiwanese dish of minced pork and garlic chives, has a salted black bean flavor with a tinge of spiciness. The stir-fried beef with basil is super juicy. And the bitter melon with salted duck egg is a surprise favorite for anyone that’s super into savory. But the real stars may be any dishes cooked in three-cup style, including chicken, squid, or fried tofu, with the perfect balance of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine that come with enough sauce that you’ll end up ordering extra rice to sop it all up.
This spot right next to the Queens Botanical Garden sits in a quieter area of Flushing away from much of the Main Street energy. It’s also one of the largest dining rooms in the area, closer to the size of a dim sum restaurant, with ample tables for big groups. Head here for Taiwanese classics such as three cup chicken, which is super fragrant with sesame oil and Thai basil, and succulent braised pork over rice. Also, try the taro cake, which is bigger and chewier than the Cantonese version that’s usually served for dim sum. The fried stinky tofu with cumin is less pungent than stinky tofu usually is, so it’s a good introduction for anyone who has ever been a little timid to try the dish.
Taiwan has a strong breakfast culture, so it’s kind of mind-boggling that Taiwanese breakfast is almost nonexistent in New York. Luckily, this sister restaurant of OK Canaan serves up a full Taiwanese breakfast on weekends from 9-11am. Start with the dan bing, or cheese egg rolls that you can drizzle with a sweetened soy dip. There’s also fan tuan, a purple rice roll filled with a fried cruller and pickled radish, if you want to start your day with fried bread wrapped in rice. Baked options include flaky taro and radish pastries and sesame flatbread served plain or stuffed with thin slices of braised beef. And don’t miss the delicious hot salty soy milk, served in a bowl with sliced fried cruller. This small spot can fill up quickly, but luckily most of the menu can be ordered for takeout.
If you’ve never experienced the joys of Taiwanese steak, then check out his food court stand. Served on cast iron inside a wooden plate, the steak comes with a generous amount of either black pepper sauce or mushroom sauce, though the black pepper option is the one to pick. Accompanied by a sunny-side-up egg and broccoli, the tender and juicy steak is probably the best we’ve ever have served cafeteria-style. Another must-order is the Tainan noodles with shrimp, a specialty of southern Taiwan that includes shell-on shrimp, shrimp stock, minced pork, and slick egg noodles.
Walk to the back of this long, narrow mini food court on Roosevelt Avenue to get to Taipei Hong if you’re craving fast, casual Taiwanese comfort food. The fried pork chop over rice is the first thing you should order – it’s super tender with a crisp bread-crumb coating – and both the mushroom pork over rice and pork belly over rice come with a good-sized serving of bok choy, cabbage, and pickled mustard greens. If it’s an especially chilly day, try their version of malatang, normally a Sichuan hotpot noodle dish with skewers, that is streamlined here into a noodle soup with your choice of meat, seafood, and vegetables (the combo of thinly sliced beef and enoki mushrooms is a personal favorite). This is mainly a grab-and-go spot, but there are a handful of tables available for seating if you don’t want to wait until you get home to dig in.
This Prince Street restaurant is the place for anyone who loves Taiwanese braised beef noodle soup as much as we do. You can return multiple times for variations on this dish alone: There’s the classic with just beef short rib, the classic with short rib and extremely tender tripe and tendon, tomato beef noodle soup, or spicy beef noodle soup. Each comes with ultra-springy noodles that retain their texture even as they sit in the broth for a while. The braised pork rice is equally great here, as is the aromatic sesame oil chicken soup. You can wash everything down with a milk tea or milk tea “slushie,” which is more smoothie-like.
There’s nowhere in Flushing that does Taiwanese fried chicken better than Legend Chicken. You can opt for the chicken in multiple styles, like “Legend Pops,” (otherwise known as popcorn chicken), wings, leg cutlets, gizzards, or the namesake “Legend Chicken” that consists of an extra-large and thinly pounded fried chicken steak folded over and served in a paper cone. Any of the chicken can be cooked mild, medium, or hot, but be warned that the heat comes on slowly and then builds. You can get add-ons like the more traditional Thai basil topping or garlic topping, or opt for something a bit different, like lemon black pepper, nori flakes, or sweet plum powder.
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