By Sophia Hsu
Photos by Cindy Trinh
From the outside, Win Son looks just like any other neighborhood stop. On the northwest corner of Montrose and Graham Avenues, the facade is unassuming. At first glance, the chandeliers seem to be comprised of glass plum or cherry blossoms, but upon closer inspection, they are repurposed, plastic two-liter bottles cut in half horizontally and reassembled like a mirrorball. Ingenious!
I get to sit down with business partners Joshua Ku and Trigg Brown and learn about the magic that makes their partnership and the restaurant work so successfully.
Asian Fusion Magazine (AFM): The space is beautiful! How did you pick this place? In East Williamsburg?
Joshua Ku (JK): I was actually prepping for leasing. While I was preparing the space. The space started dictating some ideas.
Trigg Brown (TB): Yeah, we wanted this to be a neighborhood restaurant that fit into the community. Taiwanese food came to mind, something someone in the neighborhood would have to go to Flushing or the East Village to get, normally.
AFM: Why Taiwanese cuisine? Most people would lump it together with Chinese food, but it is unlike the American Chinese food or regional Chinese cuisine like Sichuan, Fuzhou, Shanghai, etc. that have gained renewed interest in the last few years.
TB: Our friendship, up until that point, was based almost entirely on our trips to Flushing, eating Taiwanese favorites and trying new things.
AFM: What’s the secret to your business partnership? You have such a relationship.
JK: We stay in our lanes. I focus on the business side of the house, and Trigg is in charge of the food.
AFM: Sounds like a smart agreement. Back to discovering new things, how often do you take trips to Taiwan, you know, to discover new flavors or forgotten dishes?
JK: Fairly often. Ahead of the new location opening, we decided to take the manager and baker to Taiwan to taste and experience everything firsthand.
AFM: What a learning experience for them! Perhaps it will bring a level of authenticity to their work.
TB: They already do great things. The trip gives them more experience to work from is all.
AFM: That’s wonderful, but let’s talk up the real matter at hand. What are your favorite dishes to eat? Make?
JK: My favorite dish that Trigg makes is Cangying Tou (Fly’s Head – a dish of minced pork, garlic chives, and chilies). Oh, and, the lamb zhajiang mian (noodles in meat sauce, sometimes referred to as Chinese spaghetti).
TB: To make? Still lurou fan (braised, minced pork over rice). I never get tired of it.
Now, to the food! Trigg sent out several dishes for the photo shoot, and every single one was impeccable. Big thanks to up and coming street photographer and Activist NYC founder Cynthia Trinh for the drool worthy food photos.
●Marinated cucumbers with wuyu zi (cured mullet roe) is cooling and savory, a perfect appetizer leaving you wanting more.
● Ô-á-chian, or oyster omelet, is a night market favorite, and Win Son’s interpretation does not disappoint.
● Lurou fan, or braised minced pork over rice, glistens with luscious pork fat and has a balanced salted sweetness.
● Stinky tofu is rather mild, but the scallions and kumquats really punched up the flavor through contrast.
● Zhajiang mian, or noodles with meat sauce, are plump and bursting with flavor.
● Salt and pepper quail, spatch-cocked and stuffed with youfan (glutinous rice) is cooked to perfection, tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Check out their website http://winsonbrooklyn.com and follow Win Son on social media for news about their new location, Win Son Bakery, on the southeast corner of Montrose and Graham Avenues, catty corner from the original location.