A storefront at 42-45 27th Street, between 42nd Road and 43rd Street, in Long Island City, doubles as a Taiwanese takeout spot called Gulp at the front, and a nostalgic Chinese cocktail bar dubbed 929 in the back, serving drinking snacks and craft cocktails against live DJ mixes of Chinese pop music. Together, Gulp and 929, open today, have the potential — along with spots like Manhattan’s 886 and Ye’s Apothecary — to expand the scope of modern Chinese and Taiwanese drinking culture in the city.
Gulp and 929 started as a three-way partnership. William Guo is a co-owner of Gulp along with Haoran Chen, a former designer of Industry City, who’s running 929. Taiwan native Jeff Liu, who owns a construction company as well as two Taiwanese sweet shops — OJBK bubble tea in Clinton Hill and the Long Island City outpost of Meet Fresh, a global grass jelly dessert franchise — spearheaded the project. In 2022, Liu signed the lease for the space and brought in friends to convert an old white garage into two business units: a no-frills, fluorescent-lit takeout counter; and, past a door, a dark, sleek cocktail bar with a vinyl collection and turntable.
“We haven’t found a lot of places in New York where you can sit down for a nice cocktail but also enjoy Taiwanese bar food,” says Chen, citing the popularity of Japanese izakayas and South Korean pochas. “That’s the conversation we were having: What can we do with bar snacks and drinks coming from our culture?”
Expect drinks with ingredients like winter melon tea, savory soy milk, condensed milk foam, and nin jiom, an herbal syrup “that all Chinese parents give their kids for a cough.” Most cocktails are infused, such as vodka steeped with whole burdock; kaoliang (Taiwanese baijiu) with jin xuan oolong tea leaves; or gin with chrysanthemum flowers.
One drink called the Most Familiar Stranger, named after a Mandopop song by Elva Hsiao, is a sweet and savory concoction inspired by three-cup chicken. The base of the ten-ingredient cocktail includes basil-infused gin and pineapple juice, and it’s topped with a foam of soy milk, soy sauce, and maple syrup.
Gulp supplies all the food to 929, and offers only takeout. As Liu waits for the gas to be turned on, he’s running a limited menu of Taiwanese bar fare. For instance, popcorn chicken is never served solo: It’s part of a fried platter alongside enoki mushrooms and tofu skin. The braised platter uses star anise, white cardamom, licorice root, and dried mandarin peels to season beef tendon and short ribs. The sausage-in-a-sausage is a sticky rice sausage that’s split down its length and, like a hot dog bun, cradles a larger pork sausage.
Gulp will eventually offer a Taiwanese breakfast menu that includes fan tuan (sticky rice roll stuffed with fried dough, or you tiao, pickled mustard greens and meat floss), dan bing (a crepe wrapped around an omelette and a choice of fillings like ham or tuna), and lu rou fan (braised pork over rice); the restaurant was originally conceived as a breakfast spot. For a limited dinner menu, the restaurant will serve beef noodle soup.
Both 929 and Gulp are open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m, and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.