It’s hard to imagine, even a decade ago, that there would exist a place like 886 in the U.S., a place where cool Taiwanese-ish food would be made for the cool kids in the biggest city in the world. In a land where Chinese food is still too often reduced to orange chicken and chow mein, it’s pretty surreal that a place like 886 would be so popular, popular enough to trick diners into saying Taiwanese words and Mandarin phrases one tongue-in-cheek Romanized menu item at a time. And the sense of strange in-group elitism to be in on the joke.
886 is a love letter to Taiwan by way of New York. It is, as much New York as it is Taipei. It’s like a highlight reel for the most nostalgic Taiwanese flavors, repackaged up to be fit to thrive in the East Village, many nights bearing an uncanny resemblance to the sidewalk of a classic no fuss 快炒店, spilling with activity, plastic stools surrounding tables filled with small beer glasses. If you look at it from just the right angle, you might just convince yourself you’re in Taipei.
But while Taiwan is the inspiration, the menu is very much a representation of third culture experiences, evolving with the people behind the restaurant. Some classics (three cup chicken, Taiwanese sausage fried rice) are always on the menu, while others (oyster omelette, beef hot pot) are fleeting. But so long as the Taiwan Beer continues to flow and the neon sign glows, 886 will continue to have its presence known on St Marks. And maybe someday it’ll become a part of the palate of the city for a new generation.
Go here for: satisfying a Taiwanese street food craving in a purposefully inauthentic way
Order this: crispy tofu, pea shoots with tofu skin, fly’s head, zhu xie gao, dry beef noodles, and of course Taiwan Beer to wash it down
Amount of time to spend: a couple hours for a good time
When to come: early or on a weekday if you don’t have a reservation, but honestly it is more fun after dark
Getting here: closest station is a block away Astor Pl (4,6) 8th Street NQRW is also nearby.
Other things to note:
Last visited: May 2021
Last updated: December 2021