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My LES: Mary Wing

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Mary Wing. Photo by Tobi Elkin.

This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.


What do you do?

By day, I’m an educational administrator for the NYCDOE. I work with schools on the New School Reform which began last year, together we create intervention programs and support the implementation of the New Reform. In the evenings, I run Wing It Fitness. We offer Zumba, Pilates and Tai Chi classes in the neighborhood at the Lower East Side Dance Academy at 62 Orchard St. Come on in and check us out!

 How long have you lived on the LES?

59.5 years. I grew up in Chinatown and lived on the LES all of my life. I had the benefits of a multicultural life growing up with friends and classmates who are Italian, Puerto Rican, Jewish, Chinese and African American. I enjoy the cultures and especially love the various foods of each.

Favorite block in the hood?

My favorite block in the hood is Mott Street, which is where my elementary school, Transfiguration school and church are located. This street holds many wonderful memories because, this is the heart of Chinatown, where the best restaurants are located. My favorite restaurant is Hop Lee, located on 16 Mott Street, where I dine every week. The annual Chinese New Year celebration traditionally begins (on) Mott Street and then snakes throughout the rest of Chinatown. The shopping on Mott Street is phenomenal and a great bargain — it’s also where you can find the freshest and cheapest seafood and meats in the city.

Favorite date spot in the hood

My favorite date spot is the Wing Shoon Seafood Restaurant, located on 165 East Broadway, where the Garden Cafeteria was located. It’s close to my home and the food is excellent, with great prices for their traditional Chinese dishes. They also serve the best Chinese Barbecue and pastries.

Favorite coffee in the hood? 

Wing Shoon Seafood Restaurant serves the best Chinese coffee on the LES. My friends who are veritable coffee snobs are always pleasantly surprised at the full flavored inexpensive brew that you can get here. The only problem is they don’t serve decaf.

Favorite slice in the hood?

Vic’s Pizza located on 51 Essex Street just off Grand Street has the best pizza in the hood. It’s a little hole in the wall that serves phenomenal pizza. It’s also good cold.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

My favorite “go to” places are Hop Lee Restaurant for the best Chinese food, which is located at 16 Mott Street. I go to Forlini’s located at 93 Baxter Street for great traditional Italian décor and dining, and of course Katz’s, located on 205 E. Houston Street for great all night deli on Fridays and Saturdays.

Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?

My favorite dive is Yogee’s, located on 65 Chrystie St. It has the best noodle and rice dishes that are cheap and delicious. I don’t frequent any bars, I just BYOB at my favorite restaurants.

How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?

There has been a gradual influx of younger people and their families, and sadly, less of my contemporaries. But change is good and our hood is growing with a multicultural blend of people, shops and foods.

Favorite LES memory?

The Garden Cafeteria, Lonnie’s, Transfiguration School, 456, Won Kee and Wong Kee restaurants. As you can see, I’m a real foodie, and we had the BEST dining on the LES. Actually, we still do!


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