165 East Broadway.
There’s new life for the storefront at 165 East Broadway that once housed the legendary Garden Cafeteria and Cantonese standby Wing Shoon Seafood Restaurant. Wu’s Wonton King opened today at the intersection of East Broadway and Rutgers Street.
The space has been completely remodeled. While a takeout counter and roast meat carving station remain up front, the dining area is all new. The decor is stark white, no frills. The menu features Hong Kong-style noodles and soups, bbq roast pig and duck, sauteed seafood dishes and congee. You’ll also find a $5.50 lunch special. In other words, it’s a classic Cantonese place.
Wing Shoon was a longtime gathering spot for the local Chinese community. It was shuttered by the city marshal in 2014 and had a difficult history with the department of health during the past few years. After the restaurant closed, several local business operators were told the owner was asking $30,000 month for the space. That triggered fears of a high-end restaurant or a corporate store moving into the space. Instead, the new tenant is remarkably similar to the previous one.
Garden Cafeteria, operating from 1941-1983, was a center of Jewish life on the Lower East Side frequented by poets and writers such as Elie Wiesel and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Wing Shoon, 165 East Broadway
Yesterday we mentioned reader reports indicating that Wing Shoon, the restaurant at 165 East Broadway, had apparently been shut down by the Health Department. Now details from the most recent inspection have popped up online. The city ordered the restaurant closed on Monday after Wing Shoon racked up 54 violation points.
Among the critical items cited in the inspection report: “evidence of rats,” “evidence of mice,” “Roaches present,” food prep areas not properly washed and cold food items not kept above 41 degrees. A woman answering the phone at the restaurant this afternoon said the business remains closed for cleaning. She said they would reopen tomorrow morning.
April 2005, Garden Cafeteria sign briefly revealed.
Sometimes it’s surprising what can be unearthed in an old shoe box or in the deep recesses of your computer hard drive. A reader of The Lo-Down sent along this photo she snapped in 2005 on the corner of East Broadway and Rutgers streets, at the very moment a treasured Lower East Side relic was briefly rediscovered before being removed for good.
You probably recognize the facade; today the Wing Shoon Chinese restaurant is located here. But from 1941-1983, the ground floor of 165 East Broadway was the legendary Garden Cafeteria. It was a center of Jewish intellectual life on the Lower East Side — and a gathering place for poets and writers such as Elie Wiesel and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
In the former home of the legendary Garden Cafeteria, this old-school Cantonese restaurant does a reasonably decent job with dim sum, barbecued meats and seafood dishes. The price is right. Downside: they don’t deliver.
165 East Broadway, at Rutgers