Wong is New York’s first Farm to Table ‘locavore’ Asian restaurant. The Chef, Simpson Wong, is Malaysian and has a history of restaurants in New York. One, Jefferson, was made famous by the girls of Sex & the City back in 2004. So it has been some time since he has been on the hot list. This establishment will get him right back there.
A couple of lobster dishes are a big draw – Lobster Egg Foo Young won a ‘Best of’ award. And the crazy signature dish duck fat ice cream. Talk about a wow. Save room. They also do a ‘duckavore’ dinner for 4 but you’ll need to call ahead to reserve. This has been our most enjoyable meal so far in 2014. At this point we are only 7 weeks in, but #1 of 7 is pretty good! Just for reference, Telepan Local is ranking #2 and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que #3. On the lower end of the list were Khe-Yo and Toro, quite unfortunately. At the end of last year we did have a fab meal at Michael White’s Costata and an over the top steak meal at American Cut. Lack of motivation means they never got a write-up.
Wong has a lovely warm interior with communal tables and two nice sized bars, one for alcohol and one overlooking the kitchen. It is located on Cornelia Street, known for its tiny yet delicious restaurants like Pearl Oyster Bar, Home, Cornelia Street Cafe and Po among others. We wondered if it would be uncomfortable as many are, but the use of space was really creative. And we love to eat early, so we got there while there were still individual tables. We chose the corner in the window by the bar below.
They had the spot where the plants are jazzed up for Chinese (Lunar) New Year with a dramatic decorated tree. They’ve also re-utilized the corner space to house two tables instead of the bar rail. Perhaps a seasonal change but it was really cozy.
Below is our night shot of the dimly lit space. We got surprisingly good food photos for the lighting. Day shots would do the food more justice, however. Check out the link to their site at the close of this write up to view some gorgeous photos.
We started with happy hour items. Wong offers 3 dim sum for $3 as well as beer and wine specials from 5-7 pm. We decided on 3 lobster dumplings and 3 pork and scallion pot stickers. The lobster came first. Since they are known for lobster dishes we knew they’d be yum, stuffed with fresh juicy lobster. But the pork were out of this world. They were for sure some of the best we’ve had. They were fried, not steamed. We usually prefer steamed, but these had fantastic flavor.
We chose to graze on only appetizers and leave comfortable. The next course was insane. What made their duck buns stand apart from any other bun was a nice deep fried mantou bread, signature in Malaysian bread. It was like eating a doughnut. We were speechless just mmmming as we devoured our buns.
Duck Buns with Black Bean Braised Duck & Chinese Celery 9.5
The shrimp fritters are also highly acclaimed so we ordered them from the Appetizer menu as well. We had no idea what to expect. What arrived was a giant white bowl with a huge pile of tempura and the most amazing broth. Unfortunately the online menu is from Summer/Early Fall and describes it with watermelon and sunflower sprouts. This had Asian pear for sure and prosciutto. The tempura battered shred may or may not have been ‘rice sheet’ and carrots as well as Thai basil, cilantro and lime. All were on a bed of rice noodles.
Shrimp Fritters 19.5
Next we had the seared scallops, which were accompanied by two duck tongue meatballs and served with fennel. This was really unique with nice textures and rich sauce. Neither of us can remember exactly since I waited too long to write this review.
Scallops with Crispy Duck Tongue, Cucumber & Jellyfish 15.5
And now for the pièce de résistance, the duck fat ice cream specialty of the house. Words cannot describe this rich and flavorful ice cream. It has a similarity to olive oil ice cream, if you’ve had that with the unique and subtle flavor of duck. The online menu says poached plums and five-spice cookies, but this was not that! Lesson learned :(. Gotta write it down.
To end on a cheesy note, but one I couldn’t let slide…you can’t go Wong with this lovely spot!
7 Cornelia Street – West Village