Formosa Restaurant

Tarrytown Center, 2414 Exposition Blvd. D-108, 322-0344
Mon-Thu lunch, 11:30am-3pm, dinner 4:40-9pm; Fri & Sat. dinner until 9:30pm; Closed Sun.

photograph by John Anderson

For more than five years now, Formosa Restaurant, named for Chef Robert Chang's native island of Taiwan, has been dishing out dressed-up Chinese food for Tarrytown patrons. The small location in the neighborhood's principal shopping strip is one part standard Chinese canteen complete with Oriental art posters on the walls, a take-out window, and a prominent refrigerator filled with Tsing Tao beer. But in a nod of recognition to its uppercrust clientele, Formosa also features chairs draped in brocade slip covers and a sophisticated selection of classical jazz music.

Like its decor, the restaurant's menu is also a study in contrasts. Standard dishes such as the ubiquitous kung-pao chicken ($7.55 à la carte) and sweet and sour pork ($7.55 à la carte) share billing with more innovative creations like the scallops Shanghai style, a sauté of snowpeas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, mushrooms, and scallops in a light basil white wine sauce ($12.95) and the Jumbo Prawns Formosa ($12.95), huge shrimp braised in a special ginger, garlic, and tomato sauce. Formosa also features a surprisingly wide variety of vegetarian options.

Lovers of fish will appreciate the Mixed Seafood Formosa ($12.95), a tantalizing platter piled high with scallops, orange roughy, shrimp, sea legs (imitation crab), mussels, and assorted vegetables glistening with a black bean basil sauce. Commendably, Formosa's fish and seafood emerged from the kitchen moist and pliable, not rubbery or overcooked, and the dish's sauce proved to be an intriguing interplay of herb and spice, slightly piquant but still subtle enough to allow the seafood to shine. Another winner at Formosa is the Orange Beef ($9.50), one of the "litmus test" dishes I often order to determine the quality of a Chinese kitchen. Formosa's version passed the test. The beef remained tender and moist inside its light, slightly crunchy breading, and the orange and red chiles married well, providing a deeply hued and richly flavored glaze. All of Formosa's house specialties can be ordered à la carte (served with steamed rice), and an added $1.40 buys you a cup of soup and an egg roll. Expect a short wait most evenings for dinner, as those folks that have found Formosa tend to become repeat customers.

-- Rebecca Chastenet de Géry

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