Taiwanese Gourmet is one of a handful of Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst that for one reason or another I have not explored. I’ve passed by it for years on my way to Elmhurst’s Thai Town and have seen it go through two name changes, but until just the other week I’d never dined there. (Believe it or not, even this intrepid omnivore has his hangups and blind spots.) But I’m here to tell you that I have seen the light, and it shines forth from Taiwanese Gourmet’s yen su ji , or salted crispy chicken ($8.95).
“How does it compare to Taipei Hong?” my friend Stanford who has forgotten more than I shall ever know about Taiwanese cuisine asked. “Well, it doesn’t, ” I replied after after a long pause. “Let me show you,” I said proudly displaying a photo of the crunchiest, most succulent yen su ji around. The greaseless batter encases juicy chunks of bird littered with basil leaves and chives. It is truly top-flight Taiwanese fried chicken. Whoever is in charge of frying at Taiwanese Gourmet knows what’s up. I’m tempted to leave off writing this post to go have the fried pork chop.
I like to think of the gua bao or pork belly sandwich as another benchmark of a Taiwanese restaurant and the one at Taiwanese Gourmet is excellent. The puffy bun encloses a slab of wobbly stewed pork belly topped with pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and a bit of crushed peanut and sugar. It’s certainly the best of its kind in Elmhurst’s Chinatown and quite the deal at $3.50 apiece.
Beyond beef noodle soup, stinky tofu, minced pork over rice, and the aforementioned favorites I don’t know that much about Taiwanese food. So I’ m going to go on record with my first Chinese New Year’s resolution ever: I resolve to eat and explore more Taiwanese cuisine during the Year of The Fire Monkey. And there’s no better place to start than Taiwanese Gourmet.
Taiwanese Gourmet, 84-02 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-429-4818