LITTLE TONG NOODLE SHOP
By Asian Fusion Editorial Team
Little Tong Noodle Shop pays homage to the beautiful Chinese province of Yunnan, offering savory, flavorful rice noodle dishes called mixian; small plates showcasing local, seasonal ingredients; housemade pickles; and specially- crafted condiments and sauces inspired by the villages and multi-ethnic regions of southwest China.
With locations in New York City’s East Village and Midtown East neighborhoods, Little Tong is led by Chef Simone Tong, a native of Chengdu who worked at legendary NYC restaurants including wd~50, Alder, and 15 East.
The menu at Little Tong Noodle Shop reflects Chef Simone’s passion for rice noodles and her time in China, both as a child and most recently during an extensive research trip in Yunnan Province. She hopes her food will transport guests to a place and time in Yunnan that she herself encountered, and that the shop will be a destination for those who seek a culinary dining experience that has—as of yet—been widely unavailable in New York City.
Each rice noodle bowl has its own unique flavor profile, inspired by different mixian bowls in different regions in Yunnan Province. The warming, flavor-packed mixian bowls are comprised of combinations of broth, meats, vegetables, herbs and housemade condiments such as chili oil, fermented chili and seasonal pickles. The Grandma Chicken mixian, for example, was inspired by one of Chef Simone’s favorite dishes in the historic ancient Chinese village of Dali Old Town. The vibrantly-hued bowl is layered with confited chicken thigh, a roasted black sesame-garlic oil, housemade pickles, tea-brewed soy egg, Chinese broccoli and lightly fermented red chili. Tea, beer, cider and sake complement the food menu.
Little Tong’s service style and ambience are casual, energetic and vibrant. The interiors of both locations are constructed from beautiful, light-colored natural wood and accented by oak tables and chairs. Vintage Chinese furniture and accents in the spaces, coupled with the aromas and flavors of the cuisine, transport the diner to another place and time. Windows provide light during the day and a view of the bustling neighborhoods at night.
ABOUT CHEF-OWNER SIMONE TONG
Chef Simone Tong is the Chef-Owner of Little Tong Noodle Shop. Chef Simone’s life as a chef began the summer before her senior year of college. She worked in her mother’s restaurant in Chengdu as an English-Chinese translator for a French chef. It was the first time that she realized the chef’s passion and loving toil for each dish, the kitchen’s vigor and the diner’s delight. When she returned to UNC that fall, she started cooking and hosting dinner parties for large groups of friends and professors.
In 2009, Chef Simone saw an episode of the culinary TV show After Hours with Daniel that featured Chef Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50. The restaurant’s combination of science, art and unfettered passion left her spellbound. She was determined to work at wd~50. The following month, she enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, graduating with highest honors. Her first stop after school: wd~50, where she worked for four years and learned from Chef Wylie how to elevate food to the next level, to think about food in a novel way, to open avenues of creativity and, most importantly, to pursue food as a passion. She continued on to work at Chef Wylie’s
second restaurant, Alder.
Chef Simone continued her culinary journey at 15 East, learning the art of sushi under Chef Masato Shimizu. Still hungry to learn and see more from the vast culinary world, she sought inspiration around the globe, journeying to Moscow, Copenhagen, Brussels, Shanghai, Taipei, and more, learning technique, customs and regional cuisine from local chefs.
Her culinary travels and experiences led her to realize something about home: with thousands of years of civilization — and a diverse and vast history — Chinese culinary stories and cuisines still remain largely underrepresented in the western world. Chef Simone decided to embark on a three-month culinary and research adventure through the Yunnan Province. She discovered chefs, restaurants, culinary experts and locals who taught her the beauty of Yunnan dishes. She was inspired to dedicate her first restaurant to Yunnan cuisine, starting from a humble mixian rice noodle bowl.