photo credit: Andrew Bui
Win Son Bakery
Our children are going to replace us. Just look at what happened to Oedipus’ dad. And check out O’Shea Jackson Jr. pretending to be his real-life father in Straight Outta Compton. Something similar is happening in East Williamsburg, and it involves an extremely good restaurant called Win Son and its excellent counter-service offspring, Win Son Bakery.
Win Son is a Taiwanese-American restaurant on Graham Avenue that pretty much always has a wait, and it’s a spot we’ve liked since day one. Then Win Son Bakery opened across the street, and we realized that if either of these places were ever taken from us, we’d cycle rapidly through all five stages of grief before feeling compelled to take an extremely long nap. If you’ve deduced from the name that Win Son Bakery makes baked goods, you’re 100% correct - but this counter-service spot is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner serving a bunch of things, like sandwiches, salads, and fried chicken. Sure, it’s more of a daytime place than the original Win Son - but the food is just as good, and, in some cases, even better.
Stop by Win Son Bakery before 2pm, and you can eat what is, without a doubt, one of the single best BECs in the city. It comes on a milk bun with raclette, but for an extra $4, you can get it on a warm, chewy scallion pancake. The result is the equivalent of the opening bars of Tchaikovksy’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” or any doo-wop song in which a young man with a high-pitched voice expresses unrequited feelings. Once dinner starts at 5:30pm, there’s also a messy and delicious burger, a chop cheese on a scallion pancake that’ll stalk you in your sleep, and some crispy fried chicken with a sweet, sticky glaze.
photo credit: Andrew Bui
Is this the kind of spot where you bring a date or some relatives who want to catch up over a meal? Not so much. Think of it as a neighborhood coffee shop that happens to serve food so good it’ll make you angry and confused, like a dog confronted with a mirror. In the daytime, you’ll see people hanging out with laptops in the bright, open space, and, at night, things tend to stay pretty mellow (although the pending liquor license might change that).
There are already plenty of fancy restaurants where you would take a date in NYC, so it’s important that you appreciate Win Son Bakery for what it is: an exceptional neighborhood cafe that deserves to have more locations than Dunkin. We still love and appreciate Win Son, but we see ourselves coming here more often, because it’s just so easy. You can walk up to the counter, say a few words, and walk away with a meal that’ll remind you how New York City does food the way Switzerland does watches. So the next time you don’t feel like waiting for a table at its parent restaurant, use this place as a plan B. Once you eat here a couple of times, it might just become your plan A.
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photo credit: Andrew Bui
They get overshadowed by everything else, but it’s worth noting that the baked goods here are, objectively, excellent. We especially like the chewy mochi donut, the buttery pinenut cookie, and the tart filled with mildly sweet egg custard. In fact, we’d allow you to legally adopt us if it meant you’d send us care packages full of these things.
BEC On A Scallion Pancake
It’s painful how good this is. Truly. It’ll ruin other BECs for you, and you’ll space out several times a day while you think about this flaky scallion pancake wrapped around melted raclette and crunchy strips of bacon. You’ll start slipping up at work, and your friends will reach out to you and ask what’s wrong. And it’s 100% worth it.
Milk Bun Zhu Jiao
There are a few different breakfast sandwiches you can get at Win Son Bakery, including this one with a crispy fried disk of pork knuckle. Do you want it? Of course you do. And if you’re getting your sandwich on a milk bun, we prefer the pork knuckle to the bacon.
A big, juicy patty covered in raclette and what seems like half a bucket of a special sauce that’s just a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. This is one of the best burgers in NYC, and if no one were watching, we’d eat that special sauce with a spoon.
Big Chicken Box
We only get this big chicken box when we’re in the mood for a lot of deep fried stuff - but don’t get us wrong. It is very, very good. The chicken is incredibly crunchy, and you can either get it with a sweet glaze or a dry, slightly spicy rub. We prefer it dry (because that sweet glaze is, in fact, very sweet), but it’s great either way.
As wonderful as they are, you can only eat so many burgers and fried chicken boxes. So in the future, we hope that Win Son Bakery starts serving more bowls of food like this ya fan. It consists of a mound of warm rice with a jammy egg and a duck leg with meat that falls right off the bone, and we’d eat it several times a week.
Snow Pea Leaf Salad
There are a few lighter options here, like this salad of snow pea leaves with big chunks of goat cheese. This is by no means a must-order (there’s just too much other good stuff), but it’s a very good salad, and we especially like those tiny, slightly sweet tomatoes mixed in.
White Sesame Caesar
The rare item you can skip at Win Son Bakery, this caesar salad is just way too overdressed. And this brings us to another point. The food at Win Son Bakery tends to be very heavy. Make peace with this.
Is soft serve better than normal ice cream? This makes a compelling argument that it is. It’s swirled inside a waffle cone with crunchy bits of barley on top, and it’s exactly how you should end a meal here.