Restaurant Review: Formosa Taipei

Formosa Taipei, located smack dab at the intersection of Route 2A and Waltham street in Lexington, MA, is a new eatery in the crowded suburbia Chinese scene. It’s a small place, without any real tables. It’s meant primarily as a delivery or take-out restaurant, and it shows. The storefront is small and means business.

My coworker Stephen and I stopped in for lunch on Friday. The inside is certainly nice, but it is small. There’s only four seats (three at a countertop and one at another), so you’ll really want to take out from here. The menu has your standard Chinese flair, but with many authentic Taiwanese influenced dishes as well as the American Chinese. Lunch specials are $6.95 for everything. Most places have charged more for particular specials (such as General Tso’s chicken or ginger beef), but Formosa Taipei has, thankfully, avoided this.

I ordered the ginger beef lunch special, which came with four very large pieces of beef, vegetable fried rice, and a spring roll. You get a choice of noodles, white rice, or fried rice with your lunch special. There’s plenty of food on your plate – I could not finish it all, and had to bring the rest home with me. The beef was excellent, a crunchy experience probably by being cooked in the sesame sauce. It was tough to eat the big pieces with chopsticks, but it was doable. The beef was served with some broccoli on the side, and this broccoli was great. Flavorful taste without being rubbery shows the skill of the steamer, and beats our usual Chinese place. The rice was excellent, with a healthy mixture of vegetables and egg. It was sticky enough to be plenty eatable with chopsticks, but not too sticky and clumpy to indicate over-doneness.

I also sampled some of Stephen’s fried tofu, which had an excellent texture and taste. Though I must admit it’s a bit of an acquired taste, it should be easy to get used to this high quality tofu. He praised the noodle soup he purchased, and it will probably be the next thing I get from them when we visit again.

Speaking of chopsticks, the restaurant uses high quality round chopsticks and not the square break-apart kind. There were no splinters or other roughness. This is the kind of corners most places cut, but Formosa Taipei went the extra mile there. You better get used to the chopsticks, though, because the knives and forks use such soft plastic as to be useless.

Aside from a beverage case wich has a variety of sodas and water, they also have Taiwanese smoothies and bubble tea. We did not try these, but during the summertime we will certianly give them a go. We also did not try any of their desserts, which included rice cake and other tasty things.

According to their owners, they use no canned ingredients or MSG, which gives them a few bonus points. The one real downside to this place is that you can’t count on eating in. That’s not really a flaw, per se – you just need to keep it in mind when you have a hankering for Chinese. In terms of taste and value, Formosa Taipei beats out several of its competitors based on what we tried. Definitely check it out if you like Chinese and especially if you are familiar with Taiwan.

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