How happy are the Happy Buddha Vegetables? It’s hard to say, really.
While it’s been open for about 18 months, East Wind Snack Shop may still be somewhat of a secret to many. In these complicated times, we’d like to make you feel like a Buddha full of extreme happiness and pleasure. And it’ll go far beyond the veggies.
Located at 471 16th Street (just off Prospect Park West), this 22-seat gem may not be a place you walk by everyday. But steps away from Bartel-Pritchard Square, “damn good Chinese food” is to be had. By the way, that’s a quote from their menu, but it’s also our sentiments exactly.
Chef Chris Cheung is a resident of the neighborhood, and grew up in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Before helming East Wind, he cooked at some outstanding restaurants, including Jean-Georges, Monkey Bar, and Almond Flower Bistro.
“All the dumplings, bao and dim sum are handmade from scratch every day,” Cheung told The New York Times back in 2015. And the flavors tell the story.
Pork lovers will be pleased with two of Cheung’s signature items. The Pork Belly Gwa Bao, “GWACO” ($3.50) is a combo of pork so tender it melts, a sweet bao bun, pickles, hoison sauce, and a crunchy garlic and black and white sesame seed topping
The Pan Fried Juicy Pork Dumplings ($5) come piping hot, and avoid any hints of greasiness.
Keep in mind you may wait a tad longer than you’d expect, as dishes are prepared then and there from scratch.
Back to being an extremely happy Buddha. The vegetable dish ($8) feels like a meal — packed with string beans, bok choi, crispy shallot, avocado, sprouts, a black and white sesame seed topping — and all served on a bed of jasmine rice. The flavors explode. This dish has quickly become one of my neighborhood favorites.
The Salt and Pepper Vegetable Spring Rolls ($4) are made of cabbage, sweet potato, mushrooms, and onions with a crunchy outside that knows how to hold it all together. The dish is petite, but rather powerful.
East Wind has a communal quality to it, and Monday afternoon hummed with regulars sitting at both the tables and the available lunch bar.
Diners washed down their meals with a variety of bubble tea flavors ($4) or Honey Lemon Sour Plum Drink ($3).
Oh, and the sweet chili ribs ($12) — which we didn’t get to — were flowing to many hungry customers surrounding us.
East Wind is friendly and has the feel of an informal tea house — one of the main goals Cheung had in mind when he first opened.
With all the openings, closings, and “coming soons” in our neighborhood, make sure you get a chance to get over to one of our standbys. The place is comfy, bustling, and absolutely scrumptious.
We count ourselves lucky to have this local gem. We hope to continue to celebrate them in a decade.
The Dining Rundown: East Wind Snack Shop
Where: 471 16th Street (near Prospect Park West)
Hours: Mondays-Saturdays, 12pm-9pm. Closed Sundays.
Kid Friendly? When it gets crowded, you may not be super comfortable with the toddlers.