Simpson Wong was born in Malaysia but has spent the past fifteen years firmly ensconced on one picturesque block opposite Jefferson Market Garden, where he’s operated the casual Pan-Asian Café Aseanand its short-lived spinoff, Jefferson Grill (née Jefferson). Next week, he ventures four or five blocks south to open Wong, a 40-seat “Asian locavore” restaurant, where the kitchen is open, the seating communal, the wines organic or biodynamic, and some ingredients sourced locally.
Wong and chef de cuisine Blake Joyal (late of the Bedford) scour the entire Asian continent for inspiration. Eggplant, beets, and carrots are garnished with chocolate and paneer; so-called Vietnamese pizza is topped with Isan sausage, fennel, and stinging nettles; and mackerel sashimi meets flounder roe, nectarine, and popcorn, undoubtedly for the first time. No combination, though, sounds as daring as pastry chef Judy Chen’s “duck à la plum” dessert: roast-duck ice cream with star-anise-poached plums. (We doubt she was doing that at Daniel.) Here’s a look at the space, and a preliminary menu, still subject to change.