Whether or not you know it, you're probably craving Taiwanese food right now: popcorn chicken, steamed pork buns, mouthwatering beef noodle soup, the list goes on. Taiwan has always been known for its mouthwatering cuisine, so we set out to track down some of the best places to satisfy our own (and your) cravings in Lower Manhattan. Without further ado, here are our favorite Taiwanese joints for brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, and more.

1. Taiwan Bear House

Andy Tan

Taiwan Bear House was started to fill a void in the local restaurant scene for authentic Taiwanese cuisine, according to co-founder Kris Kuo.  "We bring the traditional, authentic Taiwanese food from Taiwan to Manhattan," said Kuo, who, like the rest of the team, grew up in Taiwan. 

They serve almost exclusively milk tea and bento boxes, which are compact meals with a main protein, cabbage, half a tea egg, and dry tofu over rice. Photographer Andy Tan and I split the golden crust pork chop and night market crispy chicken bento boxes. 

Photo courtesy of Andy Tan

Andy liked how the pork was marinated and slightly sweet. He said the chicken was also seasoned nicely with herbs and spices, but a tad oily. 

meat, rice, chicken
Photo courtesy of Andy Tan

The pork was good, but I definitely liked the crispy chicken a lot more. The chicken's skin was crispy, but also a little thick and chewy, in contrast with thin-skinned Korean or American fried chicken. 

11 Pell Street, New York, NY 10013.

2. The Tang

wine, tea, coffee, beer
Cynthia Lee

The Tang is a innovative Chinese noodle bar with a flair for Taiwanese tradition in several of their dishes. 

If you're looking specifically for traditional Chinese or Taiwanese fare, this place may not be for you, according to co-founder Eric Sze, one of four NYU graduates who founded the place. "Our food is very comforting, and yet we try to put twists on the traditional things here and there so we're a little more innovative than everyone else," Sze said. 

The pork belly wrap — which pays homage to Taiwanese night markets — was amazing. The soft, savory pork belly complemented the sweet and acidic house-made sauce along with the house-pickled cabbages for an extra crunch. 

Cynthia Lee

The pork belly string beans and steamed noodles were a pleasant surprise. The noodle textures were soft, but also slightly chewy, and the pork belly was just as good as it was in the wrap.

Cynthia Lee

And then there was the mala beef noodles soup. The Taiwanese dish. The beef short ribs were another surprise because they appeared to be on the chewier side until I bit into them, and the ramen-style soft boiled egg had tinges of smoke from the marination process.

I also appreciated the bok choy, which Sze said was better for soaking up oil, over cabbage. 

pork, vegetable, soup, beef, meat, ramen
Cynthia Lee

This soup definitely warms the soul. 

120 First Avenue, New York, NY 10009.

3. Baohaus

pizza, beer
Cynthia Lee

Baohaus serves up gua baos, along with rice bowls and its own take on fries from its 14th Street location. It incorporates the same punch from its dimly lit, in-your-face store atmosphere into its food. 

Assistant Manager Chewy Chen said that most gua baos in the city are very Americanized and that they try hard for a more traditional, at-home feel to their food. "Our pork belly, you can find the exact same item in Taiwan in street carts, in night markets," Chen said. "We've got the best baos. That's all I can tell you."

Chen got Spoon photographer Cynthia Lee and I custom lunch platters consisting of the Fried Fish Bao, Birdhaus Bao, Chairman Bao, and a side of Taro Fries.

seafood, bread, french fries, chicken, fish, meat, vegetable
Cynthia Lee

I started eating the Fried Fish Bao and it suddenly disappeared. Cynthia liked its tender texture and crispy skin. 

We were slightly split on the Birdhaus Bao because Cynthia liked the crunch more than the juiciness, while I leaned more towards the juiciness. The Birdhaus was crunchy, but not super juicy. 

chicken, meat, fish, vegetable
Cynthia Lee

I appreciated how the pork belly fat melted when I bit into the Chairman Bao, flavors splashing through my mouth. Cynthia said she felt a wave of nostalgia eating the Chairman Bao, because pork belly is the standard ingredient for gua bao in Taiwan.

The Taro Fries were much more crispy and chewy than traditional fries, and are definitely an item to try. 

238 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003.

4. Carma East

coffee, wine, tea, beer
Cynthia Lee

I love my dim sum with hot tea, but what about alcohol? 

The owner of Carma Asian Tapas, located in the West Village, began Carma East to change the dim sum game, even bringing an executive chef from Taiwan's Din Tai Fung to create the menu.

"Normally people don't associate drinks with Chinese food or dim sum, but we want to push the idea that these are really modern cuisines that go great with any kind of drink," said Angel Li, the public relations and marketing director for both Carma locations.

wine, beer
Cynthia Lee

Li ordered plates and plates of food with a focus on Taiwanese cuisine. Here were some of our favorite:

The crab soup dumplings had a fresh flavor that contrasted well with the vinegar, and the truffle soup dumplings were an amazing surprise. Cynthia said that the truffle flavor wasn't too strong, and matched well with the rest of the soup filling. 

Cynthia Lee

The Taiwanese crispy chicken was perfectly juicy, but the crispy mushrooms really got us excited. The mushrooms were sliced and then made in the crispy chicken style, resulting in a thin crispy skin while retaining the juicy mushroom texture on the inside. 

sauce, pork, meat, chicken
Cynthia Lee

And of course, we had to order the beef noodle soup. The beef was very good, and Cynthia said it was firm in her chopsticks, but gradually fell apart as she chewed. I liked the soup a lot as well, though Cynthia mentioned it could have had more of a kick to it. 

broth, pho, pork, parsley, meat, soup, vegetable
Cynthia Lee

Other highlights included the pork soup dumplings, the pork tacos with fried wonton skin shells, and the sweet and tender three cup chicken. 

507 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009.

5. New York Frost Factory

Spring is here, but warmer weather is just now upon us. It's the perfect time to get out and enjoy Frost Factory's Taiwanese snow ice with all its unique, fluffy textures. 

coffee, pizza, beer
Cynthia Lee

"If ice cream and cotton candy had a baby, this would be what the dessert is all about," said co-founder James Wong, who started Frost Factory with his wife and two friends. Frost Factory has already cultivated a loyal following, with certain customers coming weekly even through the winter since the store opened about seven months ago, according to Wong. 

birthday cake, cake
Cynthia Lee

Many of Frost Factory's ingredients are custom imported from Taiwan, such as some of their popping boba that aren't found anywhere else, to make the snow ice as authentic as possible. 

chocolate, milk, candy, caviar, cream, sweet
Cynthia Lee

I had the passion fruit snow ice with blue berries, popping boba, and jelly. Cynthia had the lychee snow ice with almonds, mochi, and mango drizzle. My snow ice's texture and light sweetness contrasted well with the brighter flavors of my toppings. The snow ice desserts are massive, so definitely bring a friend or two to share! 

106 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012.