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.