Wenwen (1025 Manhattan Ave.), a Taiwanese restaurant from Eric Sze and Andy Chuang, is opening soon in Greenpoint. The pair already run the wildly popular 886 in the East Village, named after Taiwan’s international calling code. 886 is a small space that’s big on flavor and fun. Wenwen aims to deliver the same good food and good times at Wenwen with an added dose of warmth and nostalgia.
“We want the restaurant to feel homey,” says Sze, while wistfully looking around the restaurant he named after his mother and wife.
The gorgeous space has everything a restaurant could ask for. The first thing patrons will notice are the high ceilings, which Sze says they are one of his favorite features. Customers will also love the large front windows looking out onto the quiet northern end of Manhattan Ave. The space features a somewhat secret seating area tucked away in the back of the restaurant with beautiful skylights.
To maintain the homey experience, Sze has filled the space with nostalgic small touches like signs straight from Taiwan, the home of both Sze and Chuang, alongside beautiful bright green plants. On the way to the neon-lit bathroom, the shelves are lined with Taiwanese games and advent calendar-like boxes that Sze enjoyed during his childhood.
While the clientele at 886 leans younger and rowdier, Sze sees the crowd at Wenwen as a bit more grown up and sophisticated, but still looking for doses of fun. When asked if Wenwen will have a bit of the same vibe as 886, Sze answered, “That’s for the neighborhood to decide.”
Sze has taken the greatest hits from 886 and incorporated them into the menu at Wenwen. He has added things that he believes will “fit well in the neighborhood.” Sze wanted the menu to include “fun food” and things are are unique but also family-friendly. He anticipates the honey-glazed popcorn chicken to be a favorite.
Wenwen’s menu will also include surf and turf sticky rice with braised pork belly and cuttlefish, steamed and stuffed whole striped bass, and a whole deboned fried chicken, that She says is perfect for a family. The dessert menu will feature fried ice cream, a favorite Taiwanese night market snack. The drinks will be a mix of both tropically-inspired and Chinese herb-influenced concoctions.
In the beginning, Wenwen will be open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner. Sze and Chuang eventually aim to be open for lunch and brunch with the ultimate goal of serving the neighborhood lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Sze and Chuang’s goal is to open Wenwen coinciding with the Lunar New Year on February 1st. Stay tuned for updates as we excitedly await the unveiling of Greenpoint’s newest dining destination.