There isn't a lot of Taiwanese food in New York City, so the arrival of Liang's Kitchen in Flushing, the first East Coast outpost of a California minichain, is cause for celebration. "This is some of the best Taiwanese food in New York now," declares Lau, whose recent dinner was highlighted by tender, savory five-flavor steamed pork (wu wei bai qie rou) served with ginger and sweet bean and garlic sauce. (Polecat loves this dish too, but notes that it's one of many on the menu listed only in Chinese.)
Beef pancake (niu rou jia bing), a Liang's signature, is worth a try. It's a freshly fried scallion cake sauced with hoisin, then rolled into a wrap with sliced beef and cucumber. Liang's also nails the Taiwanese staple pork chop rice (pai gu fan). The battered, fried chop, seasoned with five-spice, is one of the best Lau has had in New York; he faults only the accompaniments, which were short on the customary lu rou (ground-pork sauce). Other noteworthy dishes include simple, homey stir-fried corn and shrimp (yu mi xia ren) and beef tendon noodle soup (hong shao niu jin mian), with meltingly tender braised meat (and, unfortunately, overcooked noodles). Liang's also offers variations on dishes imported from the mainland. Its take on Sichuan-style wontons in hot oil (hong you chao shou) is satisfying, with delicate dumplings that are better-made than the ones at most Sichuan restaurants, even though chile junkies might be disappointed by the muted heat.
Like Liang's Kitchen, Nan Bei Ho in Bayside arrives with a pedigree. Open since spring, it's said to be the descendant of Nan Bei He, a dearly missed hound favorite in downtown Flushing. Polecat enjoyed a lunch of tender sliced fish with rice, accompanied by a tasty beef soup with seaweed; his Taiwanese coworker vouches for the beef noodle soup (a popular order here) and scallion pancake with beef.
Another newish Taiwanese option is Homers Taste, a couple blocks west of downtown Flushing. From a vast spread of cold appetizers—tripe, pig ear, and the like—Chandavkl scored a winner: vegetarian "duck" (actually slices of bean curd), distinguished by a smooth, egglike texture.
Liang's Kitchen [Flushing]
In the Best Western Plus Queens Court Hotel, 133-51 39th Avenue (between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard), Flushing, Queens
Nan Bei Ho [Bayside]
212-22 48th Avenue (near Bell Boulevard), Bayside, Queens
Homers Taste [Flushing]
41-08 College Point Boulevard (near 41st Avenue), Flushing, Queens