Taiwanese chefs join ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ list in New York

The photo collage shows dumplings (left) and savory soy milk. (Courtesy of 886/Facebook)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Andy Chuang and Eric Sze, two native Taiwanese who opened “886” in New York, recently made it on the “2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 2021: Food & Drink” list of 30 potential star chefs under the age of 30.

Their Taiwanese restaurant specializes in innovative Taiwanese cuisine, successfully winning Americans’ hearts with their signature dishes — “Stewed chicken with ginger and wine” and “Pork sausage wrapped in a sticky glutinous rice.” 

The photo collage shows popcorn chicken (left) and Sausage Party. (Courtesy of 886/Facebook)

According to Forbes, “On a rowdy corner of St. Marks Place, ‘886’ is the neon-accented watering hole where Taiwanese comfort food comes alive in New York City. Taiwanese natives Eric Sze and Andy Chuang opened the doors in 2018, with Sze running the kitchen and Chuang at the front of the house.”  

The introduction also said that during the pandemic’s darkest days, “886” raised US$130,000 to purchase more than 10,000 pre-packaged meals from struggling restaurants to donate to more than 30 hospitals and shelters.  

During the pandemic’s darkest days, ‘886’ raised US$130,000 to purchase more than 10,000 pre-packaged meals from struggling restaurants to donate to more than 30 hospitals and shelters.  (Courtesy of 886/Facebook)

Named after Taiwan’s country code 886, the interior design of the restaurant uses blue as the main tone with a mural painting hung on the wall featuring Chen Chu, Jeremy Lin, Jay Chou, and Ang Lee, four celebrities from different fields in Taiwan, playing mahjong.   

A mural painting hung on the wall of Chen Chu, Jeremy Lin, Jay Chou, and Ang Lee is pictured. (Courtesy of 886/Facebook)

Eric, one of the founders, said that the restaurant menu is inspired by Taiwanese stir-fried restaurants. 

Since most of the customers have never been to Taiwan, however, they may not be able to understand the culture even if the store is filled with Taiwanese elements.   

Therefore, they created an environment that customers enjoy by combining both American and Taiwanese culture.  

The photo collage shows popcorn chicken (left) and Sausage Party. (Courtesy of 886/Facebook)

“886” features Taiwanese cuisine, including not only stewed chicken with ginger and wine, but also pork sausage wrapped in a sticky glutinous rice sausage.  

Even Taiwan’s McDonald’s classic shake shake fries are on the menu.  

Andy Chuang and Eric Sze, two native Taiwanese opened 886 in New York. (Courtesy of Forbes)

“If you want to introduce Taiwanese food to Americans, you have to package it in a new and interesting way that they can understand,” Eric said, giving an example that they translated the dish as “Sausage Party” instead of “Rice with a Taiwanese sausage.”  

However, “886” also tried to sell stinky tofu, but it was too unfamiliar to the locals so the dishes didn’t receive much response from the customer.  

In contrast, Taiwanese stewed chicken has been popular because the chicken itself is a familiar ingredient to Americans.   

Instead of emphasizing authenticity and tradition, “886” tries to introduce delicious Taiwanese cuisine to the U.S., based on the principle of catering to the tastes of local people.