Getting in on the growing number of Taiwanese restaurants in New York City is the co-founder of The Tang with an upcoming East Village restaurant that intends to go beyond boba and popcorn chicken. Eight Eight Six, named for Taiwan’s country code, will take over the old TK Kitchen space at 26 St. Marks Pl. between Second and Third avenues.
Co-owner and chef Eric Sze is looking to Win Son in Williamsburg as a good model for what he wants the restaurant to be. “I really view Win Son as a benchmark because they’re so innovative and at the forefront of Taiwanese cuisine,” he says. “I’m really happy to see Taiwanese food popping up everywhere, but the introductory stuff — beef noodle soup, boba, and fried chicken — has been done. There’s a lot more to offer, and we want to take it to the next level.”
That means dishes like danzai noodles, or wheat noodles in a shrimp soup with ground pork; lu rou fan, or a pork rice bowl; and a dish that translates to “small sausage in large sausage,” and is sticky rice-wrapped pork sausage. Dishes will stay very affordable — near the $10 mark — and drinks will be Taiwanese beer, sake, and shoju.
Sze’s partner in the project is Andy Chuang, who’s also Taiwanese and worked at The Tang as general manager. They’re incorporating a lot of neon into the 30-seat space, since Sze says that’s a big trend in Taipei right now. Construction has not yet started, so late April is a likely timeline.
Like Sze said, more Taiwanese restaurants have been opening in NYC as of late. Besides Win Son, dessert chain Meet Fresh made its debut this weekend, beef noodle soup shop Ho Foods opened last week, and places like Happy Stony Noodle and a second Mimi Cheng’s popped up in the last year.