As someone who grew up on Chinese food, I’m usually always on the search for good Cantonese, Szechuan or Hunan eats. Unfortunately in the Triangle area, authentic Chinese food is really hard to find. So when I first got to the area, people immediately mentioned Taipei 101 in Cary. While I ended up dining at places like Super Wok, 35 Restaurant (closed), and Grand Asia Market, I never made it to Taipei 101 for some reason. I honestly wasn’t certain what their menu would be like given a Taiwanese focus vs. Chinese. But I finally decided to make an effort to learn more about what they are serving up. Here’s what to expect when you visit and dine at this classic Chinese restaurant!
Taipei 101 sits in the recently refreshed plaza on Chatham Street with Hank’s Downtown Dive Bar, Di Fara Pizza Tavern, and Geluna Gelato! It’s a fun assortment of businesses and a welcome break from the previous options. The parking lot is usually pretty full given the popular dining choices in the plaza, your best option is usually E. Cedar Street by the railroad tracks. Taipei 101 is super humble inside and has an odd setup. To go desk up front, there’s a small open service area with a low wall and then a dining room with sixteen tables or so. I don’t believe there are any larger 8-tops for typical Chinese family dining here.
But like a lot of mom and pop Chinese restaurants, it’s all about the food, amiright? From my limited experience, Taiwanese menus have some similarities to a typical Chinese menu but strays a bit in different ways. Looking at Taipei 101’s menu I see some of my favorites (dan dan noodles, dry sauteed green beans, kung pao chicken) but then also some more unusual options (for me) like a section of griddle items, fried dough strips, and spicy whelk. The menu at Taipei 101 is certainly broad and authentic, no doubt there. For an appetizer, I’ve tried their scallion pancakes which are a bit different than usual. Less flaky and with more of a bubbly surface, the texture is a change from what I’ve usually had. The dry sauteed green beans are excellent, showing off a wrinkly skin and flecked with bits of salty pork. The portion is generous and a good way to get your greens.
For the Taipei 101 entrees I’ve done their salt and pepper pork ribs and the shredded pork with garlic sauce, both excellent. The salt and pork ribs are perfectly fried and seasoned with delicious meat off the bone. Super basic but a longtime favorite of mine. And the shredded pork with garlic sauce was very nicely prepared. Tender pieces of pork with wood ear mushrooms, carrot, and onion, a bit sweeter than what I usually get but tasty.
Service has been efficient and effective during my visit, a thumbs up there. But I have a feeling that they do a lot of their business in takeout. All in all, I find Taipei 101 to be a totally solid and authentic choice for Chinese cuisine in the Triangle. While the ambiance is bare-bones, the food is very well prepared and hits the spot, offering some slightly different Chinese dishes than the usual Szechuan restaurants in Cary. I’ll be back to try more off their menu soon!