Since we changed the name of the site to Linthamist, we're doing our best to brush up on Taiwanese culture and began to wonder what Taiwanese and Chinese food had in common, and what made Taiwanese cuisine unique. With the help of a staffer's parents who grew up in Taiwan, here's a cursory guide.
Generally, Taiwanese cuisine is heavily influenced by the dishes that originated from various parts of China, especially the Fujian province, which sits directly across from Taiwan. This means lots of broths, seafood, noodles, bold flavors and a wide range of textures. Oyster omelettes and extra stinky tofu are examples of Chinese dishes that have been tweaked and adapted by the Taiwanese. Sanbeiji, or three cups chicken, is a Chinese dish that became wildly popular in the country.
Bubble tea and ba-wan (a disk-shaped, nearly translucent "meat sphere"), originated in Taiwan, and though some older Taiwanese citizens refuse to eat beef, beef noodle soup is largely considered the dish that best encompasses Taiwanese cuisine, and the Beef Noodle Festival is held every year in Taipei to determine who makes the best batch.
Bao bing, or a fluffy shaved ice with toppings, is also a food native to Taiwan, and there are oodles of places to get it in New York City (Serious Eats recommends Ice Fire Land in Flushing). The Voice seemed to enjoy Taiwanese Specialties in Elmhurst, but where are your favorite Taiwanese joints in the city?