Wilson Tang knows good Chinese food. New York City’s oldest dim-sum restaurant, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, has been in his family for decades. His uncle, Wally Tang, started working at the restaurant in 1950 when he was just 16, and he bought it in 1974.
Growing up, Tang’s parents tried to dissuade him from entering the restaurant business, instead hoping he’d land a white-collar job. After working in various financial firms, Tang left corporate life to take over Nom Wah in 2010, promising that he’d keep the essence of the restaurant wholly intact while adding some modernizing touches (the key upgrade: cooking all of the dim-sum items to order rather than letting them sit around in steam trays and trolleys).
While Nom Wah has stayed true to its traditional roots, Fung Tu—Tang’s latest restaurant with Per Se alum Jonathan Wu—offers a more contemporary, creative approach to Chinese food.
“I met Jonathan through mutual friends in the restaurant scene. I heard about his pop-up brunch in Brooklyn last year, tried it, and invited him to do a pop-up at another space that I was a partner at, Bowery Station,” says Tang. “I thought he was great. He was doing a style of food that is very unique to me. It was very homey, and his drive and work ethic is top notch.”
With his interest in both traditional and modern Chinese cooking, as well as his deep roots in the restaurant business, Tang is a fount of information when it comes to navigating NYC’s Chinatowns and sussing out the must-try dishes. Here, he lets us in on his favorite Chinese restaurants in the city, as well as what to order when you go there.