About Chef Wong
As the chef and proprietor of Wong, Cafe Asean and formerly of Jefferson, Simpson Wong exemplifies the contemporary chef who is adept at integrating his many global influences. A native of Malaysian with Chinese ancestry, Wong had lived, traveled and studied cuisine throughout Asia and Europe.
A Self Taught Chef
Wong learned much from helping his mother prepare meals for his father’s timber company in Malaysia. They worked in remote reaches of the rain forest, where trips to the market were rare. His mother grew many of her own fruits, vegetables and herbs, and cooked them freshly picked. She instilled in Wong an appreciation for fresh, organic produce and clean, simple flavors that characterize his food to this day.
Throughout his early professional life, Wong dreamed of opening his own restaurant. As a banker in Kuala Lumpur, and as a United Nations liaison in New York City, Wong dedicated his off-hours to further educating himself in all things culinary. He absorbs everything, in four-star dining rooms, at lunch counters and from sidewalk vendors and markets in all of New York’s neighborhoods. He learned new techniques from friends in the restaurant industry, and read cookbooks voraciously.
In 1996, Wong finally realized his dream and opened Cafe Asean, a cozy West Village restaurant serving Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian dishes. Despite this early success, Wong continued to travel, to learn, and to refine his skills.