MOCAEATS Presents Nom Wah Tea Parlor & Fung Tu

Jonathan Wu, Wilson Tang, Jeff Yang

By Xi Lu

On Thursday Evening, May 22, in honor of Lower East Side History Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) presents a food program, MOCAEATS, which invited a renowned dim sum place Nom Wah Tea Parlor’s next generation proprietor, Wilson Tang, and Jonathan Wu, chef/partner of Fung Tu, and a modern restaurant on the Lower East Side featuring creative Chinese American cuisine to discuss their creative partnership, love for comfort food, and the evolution of Chinese-American food in the 21st century. This talk was moderated by writer/columnist Jeff Yang (Wall Street Journal), and includes a sampling of Nom Wah’s delectable dim sum.

This program is MOCA’s signature public program series that mines the rich field of New York’s local, regional and global cuisines and culture with food writers, restaurateurs, and chefs.

Since 1920, Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers Street has served as the culinary epicenter of its neighborhood, offering fresh chinese pastries, steamed buns, dim sum and tea. This evening, Wilson Tang, second generation proprietor of the Nom Wah Tea Parlor legacy, and Jonathan Wu, former chef of Per Se, discuss their latest collaboration: Fung Tu, the “creative” Chinese – American restaurant, which remixes traditional Chinese ingredients with more contemporary items for an inventive hometown flavor.

Think steamed buns stuffed with butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms and glass noodles to whole steamed fish with fennel, chili, tangerine, and fermented black beans, or dumpling knots drizzled in Sichuan ground pork sauce. As the flavor profile of Chinese – American food evolves through creative reinterpretation, Tang and Wu bond over their love for comfort food with moderator, Jeff Yang, columnist of “Tao Jones” and “Asian Pop.”

The presentation was like a conversation between three old friends, and indeed Jeff was the moderator of the three. Wilson is a Chinese American who comes from a traditional Chinese family where education takes an important place in his life. After graduating from Pace University, he entered Morgan Stanley, world’s leading investment bank and ING Direct. But the restaurant life is evocating him, and finally he left the the career in finance and headed into the restaurant business. With a solid foundation in business and finance, he has modernized the restaurant and started to host several events and parties for the community, such as New York Knicks viewing party, which brings a fresh air to this upcoming area – Chinatown.

Fung Tu is also the fruit of Jonathan Wu, who received a degree in English from the University of Chicago and decided to work as a chef. With the extensive experience working in the US, France, Spain and Italy, he started his first pop up kitchen in Brooklyn where he met Wilson.

With the same restaurant concept of combining home-cooked Chinese flavors with seasonal and regional ingredients in a modernized way, they decided to open a new restaurant together.

Fung Tu’s creative and personal interpretation of American-Chinese food has resulted in funky dishes that are complemented by a terroir-driven beverage program and a Sunday brunch.

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