- scene: Dimly lit and rustic, it doesn't scream "Asian", but rather just simply "cool"
- sip: Refreshing custom cocktails; a nice cold brew to manage the spice
- savor: Duck buns; Shrimp Fritters; Lobster Egg Foo Young
- sit: With an adventurous date at the counter (cheaper than tix to Vietnam); with a group of foodie friends who like to share (their food)
- spend: $$
- address: 7 Cornelia Street (off of 6th, look for the red "W")
- phone number: (212) 989-3399
- website: www.wongnewyork.com
There have been several articles praising many elements of Wong, but I discovered my own title to bestow on it: Amazing Hangover Killer. The appetizers at Wong were able to undo an entire day’s worth of headaches, nausea and general queasiness in a few fried, vinegary bites. As I sat at the counter at Wong, sipping my cold beer, I could almost hear a Bourdain voice-over, extolling the virtues of South East Asian food and a cold brew, scooters honking wildly in the background as he takes in the sights and smells of the night. While the food was transporting, and the cooking mesmerizing, Wong has a sophistication that is all NYC.
Everything about Wong is so right. (Sorry, will be the last Wong joke). Don’t come in expecting generic Asian decorations of any kind- there are no dragons, buddhas or statues to be found. The vibe instead is more rustic farm chic, highlighting the locavore aspects of the food above the Asian fusion elements. Most of the seating is at long communal tables, the counter overlooking the kitchen (our choice) or at the bar. There are only a few free standing tables for four. Everything is buzzing and actiony, in the low-key, organically cool way that happens on tiny streets in the West Village. The crowd on the night we were there was pretty attractive, as were most of the chefs in the kitchen. While our server was knowledgable and friendly, there were a few things that gave us cause for concern or reason to believe that the kinks were still being worked out, including: They ran out of one of the specials before 7:45 pm; All of of our dishes arrived at the same time, which was a little overwhelming from a spatial perspective (on the counter, in our stomachs) and then we sat with those plates for too long of a time. Enough of that, on to what we ate! We had of course studied the menu before and were prepared with our order pretty much when we sat down. Our waiter was impressed with our seemingly spontaneous mastery of the menu, and we were just as impressed with everything we ate, even as we watched it being prepared. A breakdown of our highly recommended menu choices:
Snacks: Pickled cabbage, watermelon, and green beans got our palates ready and started the fight against the hangover
Shrimp Fritters: Large, puffy fritters with a sharp vinegar sauce, rice noodles and cucumbers; the fritters were puffy and soaked up the sauce but yet did not get soggy, they stayed crunchy and firm
Duck Buns: These were my favorite; A different spin on an oft-imagined dish- shredded duck and cucumber with a gingery sauce, served in a bun that took a swim in the fryer, to make a perfect little sandwich. It was like a duck bun with heels on.
Cha Ca La Wong: Complex dish of flavors and textures; the fish melts in your mouth, ground peanuts and lettuce added some constrasting textures and the dressing provides the final zingy touch
Lobster Egg Foo Young: This dish definitely suffered due to the aggressive pace of the meal; it was forced to sit a longer long than it should while we dealt with everything else; The best way to eat this is to make a mushy pot of delicious surprises, and ask for another piece of bread to slop it all up with…
Duck Fat Ice Cream: We didn’t try it, but there is nothing Wong with having something to go back for…