WINDSOR TERRACE — A taste of old Chinatown is coming to Windsor Terrace.
Chef Chris Cheung, whose family settled on Mott and Canal streets in the 1920s, is opening a snack shop inspired by the Toishan teahouses that were once common in Chinatown.
East Wind Snack Shop at 471 16th St. will serve dumplings, bao and slow-cooked meats over rice — the type of dishes once found at teahouses opened by early immigrants to Chinatown, many of whom, like Cheung's family, were of Toishan descent (also called Taishanese or Hoisan).
"These teahouses really provided a great source of food and community for Chinatown at that time," Cheung said. "I grew up with all that, [but] Toishan food has disappeared. It’s a dying thing and I always wanted to go back to that.”
East Wind Snack Shop's menu will include classic roast pork char siu bao (steamed dumplings filled with barbecue pork) for $3, pork belly gwa bao (pork wrapped in steamed buns) for $3.50 and dry-aged beef pot stickers for $7. The shop will also serve packaged snacks such as Pocky sticks, canned Asian soft drinks and other treats sourced from Chinatown shops.
Cheung has worked at some of the city's best-known restaurants. He helped open Nobu and worked as the storied sushi restaurant's kitchen manager. He was a line cook alongside Wylie Dufresne at Jean-Georges. As a chef, he's worked at Ruby Foo's, Monkey Bar and Cherrywood Kitchen. He's also appeared on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" TV show.
Cheung aims to open the new eatery around Feb. 18 and plans to host a Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 21, complete with dancing paper dragons that will bless the new business.
East Wind Snack Shop will move into a space on 16th Street off Prospect Park West that's seen several businesses come and go in recent years. It was last occupied by Brooklyn Proper, and before that, Brooklyn Oyster Company.
But Cheung says he's ready to reverse the trend. Cheung has lived in Windsor Terrace for 16 years and he's got a child at P.S. 154. He says he has a feel for what the neighborhood wants and needs.
“I’m doing dumplings, which is an accessible, familiar type of food,” Cheung said. “It’s going to be pretty special and pretty unique to the neighborhood. I know a lot of people say that, but a Chinese snack shop that is inspired by Chinatown in the 1970s truly hasn’t been done around here.”