Double-crunchy Korean fried chicken has gotten all the love in recent years when it comes to hype for Asian-style crispy birds. But the Taiwanese have a signature way with their fried chicken, too, a slightly less crusty but more aromatic breading that's been featured in at least three new Chinatown restaurants over the last year. The impressively stylish Bubblefish, where milk teas, sushi burgers, and takoyaki are among the menu's many other trendy items, happens to make the best. Co-owners Ping Lin and her husband, sushi chef Edison Wang, went to Taiwan for cooking classes to learn the secret of the island's signature fried poultry (along with other specialties, like the famous beef noodle soup). And when it arrives at the table at the Arch Street restaurant in a cute mini-pot, the payoff is clear. Unlike sauce-driven K(orean) F.C., Taiwanese fried chicken is all about the layers of flavors inside the nuggets themselves, which have been marinated in licorice root powder before being crusted in a tapioca flour crust aromatic with ginger and five-spice seasoning. A Taiwanese infusion of basil leaves in the frying oil adds yet another echo of herbal savor, one that resonated on my taste buds long after that last morsel was gone. A little T.F.C., it seems, goes a long way.
– Craig LaBan