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Navy Vet Tries to Make Chinese Takeout 'Cool' in Jackson Heights

By Katie Honan | July 24, 2014 4:22pm | Updated on July 25, 2014 4:16pm
 Chefs from Saw Shack have worked at restaurants around the city, including Zen Palate. 
New Spin on Chinese Takeout Features Expanded Vegetarian Menu
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JACKSON HEIGHTS — A new Chinese takeout restaurant that features vegetarian food and a rotating list of infused water is the brainchild of a military vet and his parents.

Danny Saw, 29, opened Saw Shack on 37th Avenue in June with his parents, Hong Sing and Sharon, both chefs who’ve worked in restaurants across the city — including China King, which the new restaurant replaced.

“This is a Chinese joint but I’m trying to change it,” he said of The Saw Shack. “I’m just trying to make it cool.”

Saw moved with his family from China to Jackson Heights when he was 13 and grew up in the neighborhood and in the restaurant business.

Hong Sing, who specializes in vegetarian food, worked at Zen Palate and Gobo while Sharon spent 12 years at the former China King before moving to Taste Good, a Malaysian restaurant in Elmhurst.

Danny spent five years in California repairing jets with the U.S. Navy and served in  Bahrain and Dubai aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln before moving home in 2012.

He began taking criminal justice classes at La Guardia, but soon decided he wanted to go into business for himself.

“Going to school, it’s a hierarchy,” he said. “I don’t want to follow a boss.”

In February, that chance came after the former owner of China King told Sharon he was interested in giving up his lease. Danny saw an opportunity to open his own restaurant and he convinced his parents to get on board.

He spent months working on the concept and design and built out the menu with his parents including tofu and other “mock” meat options for vegetarians along with usual favorites like General Tso’s chicken and lo mein.

There's also a different infused water every day such as cucumber, lemon and mint. He announces which one is being served on a Facebook page.

He designed the restaurant himself, inspired by sites like Pinterest which is where he found the idea to write the changing menu on a chalkboard on the wall.

Danny, who also works as a waiter at a Kotobuki restaurant in Manhattan, is now working seven days a week to get The Saw Shack off the ground.

He knows competition is high, but hopes to attract local customers looking for something different in their delivery.

“It’s nice working back here,” he said.

Saw Shack is open at 84-22 37th Avenue from 11 a.m until 10:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.