In the Kitchen

Nom Wah’s Owner Loves Seamless and Late-Night Pizza as Much as You Do

Plus, he gives us the perfect Chinese food order.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Alec Kugler

When it comes to those nights when you really want to indulge—have a great meal that’s purely delicious (as in, not the healthiest) and probably a few drinks, too—there are very few places we’d rather go than Nom Wah Tea Parlor, a New York institution in one of Chinatown’s twisted alleys. And because a lot of people feel similarly warm and fuzzy feelings for their dumplings (get on those shrimp-and-snow-pea ones immediately), its spawned a miniature restaurant empire, ruled over by Wilson Tang, whose family has been running the original for decades.

Tang is one of those New York born-and-raised foodies who values his late-night pizza as much as he does his morning bagel (his is from Black Seed). But we wanted to get a glimpse inside his kitchen to see what kind of magic happens there as well. What we found is a down-to-earth pantry appropriate for a family of four that includes two small kids, plus the kind of food swag that only insiders get (experimental hot sauces, a premium of champagne and whiskey, and “exclusive” snacks found in Asia).

Click through the slideshow to read more about Tang’s Seamless habits and his obsession with Costco. Plus, he spills the perfect Nom Wah order.

“The fridge is always pretty constant. We have two kids, so there’s always milk, yogurt, juice boxes, little hummus snacks, bread. I’m a big fan of drinks. There’s always pomegranate juice, coconut milk, or organic milk for coffee, orange juice, and protein drinks, because I’m always on the run. Usually in the morning I’m out the door at 7:30 or eight. I’ll take one kid with me to daycare. I might just grab one of these protein drinks if I don’t have a second to make, like, two eggs. I have really good friends over at Red Bull, and we’re constantly stocked with Red Bull stuff.

“I first started drinking this kombucha years ago. A friend of mine took me to my first yoga class, and we drank this kind of stuff [laughs]. It was a very zen moment for me. It’s always here. The little milks for the kids are always here. More condiments. Mayo; spicy mayo. Salsa for chips. We always have organic chicken stock for quick soups, or we like to make a lot of noodles and we’ll use that cut with a little water. And there’s always pasta sauce.”Read More

“Of course, there’s always some sort of champagne. We drink a lot of champagne. This Côtes du Rhône was something that we got for Fung Tu that I like a lot, so we bought a couple cases. One bin is fruits and vegetables—a very important part of the diet. These apples are actually called Honeybells, a gift from my financial advisor. There was a case of it, and we’re down to a couple. Then our veggie basket: cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, celery. If we want to make a soup or a stock, we’ll just grab everything and throw it in. My wife loves cheese, so there’s always mozzarella, swiss. I have some prosciutto. We always [have] at least one portion of meat for dinner, and we’re big on tacos, so there’s always some sort of wrapper or bread component in there. We have a leftover slice of pizza and homemade lasagna from yesterday.”Read More

“Sauces are big. I was recently at Public for a tasting for The Impossible Burger, and they gave me the sauce. It’s delicious. I’m a big fan of hot sauces. I’m currently trying to get our own hot chili oil bottled, so we’re working through a lot of ideas. My favorite is still sriracha, because it’s all-purpose—you can't beat it. It’s perfect for what it is. There’s a relish that my friend Tony from The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company is developing for bottled use. This is a little sample that we have. This is a little gift from Roberta’s that I got after dinner one night at Blanca—they always give you a little bag, and there was this little peanut butter from Roberta’s. We have a bread maker, so we’ll use yeast to make some bread sometimes. We have some garlic, there’s some miso in the back. Yogurt and juice for the kids. Most of these sauces are gifts, but I like keeping them. I keep all the soy sauce packages from all the sushi that we eat.

“I have a mustard from a friend that came from Germany and more gochujang. There’s barbecue sauce for the barbecue ribs that we have in there. Ketchup, of course—the kids love ketchup. More soy [laughs]. We’re Chinese, so we have a lot of soy. More Asian-style stuff—the Trader Joe’s sweet-and-sour sauce, sriracha, soy, barbecue, oyster. More pepper sauce. In the summer, we have a barbecue pit on the fourth floor, so we actually do a lot of barbecuing here and at least twice or three times a month we’ll organize a barbecue and we’ll get the slabs of ribs and just throw it on.”Read More

“For four people, my order at Nom Wah Tea Parlour would be the shrimp-and-snow-pea-leaf dumpling. I would do stuffed eggplant with shrimp paste and black bean sauce. I would do the original OG egg roll, which is made with an egg crêpe, mixed vegetables, and chicken. And I would do a pan-fried chicken-and-cabbage dumpling. Those are the four that I like the most.”Read More

“When it comes to food, I’m always thinking about work. We do chicken-soup dumplings at Nom Wah, we have machinery that does it, and I’m always constantly comparing other people’s machine-made soup dumplings to mine. This is one type. They’re good, they’re fine. The expectations are a lot lower when you’re buying a frozen food product. This one is from Korea, but this was from Costco. We don’t typically buy this stuff, but lately I’ve been buying more of it just to taste it and to see how it’s packaged and to learn from it.

“We always have meat for the kids—drumsticks, wings, more dumplings. I’ve always got these hot dogs from my friend Tony in the freezer for a late snack—just grill them up in a little bit of water. Frozen peas. A lot of chicken. Some salmon from Costco, wild Alaskan sockeye. Wild Pacific flounder fillets. We always look for the wild stuff. Frozen homemade raviolis. More wild-caught shrimp, Trader Joe’s corn. Organic spinach.” Read More

“I particularly just like this Ample Hills flavor because it has a marshmallow base and they only sell it through Maple, David Chang’s delivery service. I always try to just keep one, because you can go through this in one sitting. We have berries. Quinoa chicken and kale ready to go from Costco. We’re big on Costco in Sunset Park. My wife makes a lot of muffins, and then we’ll freeze these also for the kids’ snacks. I’ve got leftover pork and leftover beef stew.”Read More

“This stuff doesn’t last because we have two mouths to feed. It’s constantly stocked like this, and on certain nights, because we’re a small family, the amount of stuff that we make for dinner, we’ll never finish it. We just make it a little bigger so we’ll save it for the next week, and that’s how we kind of strategically plan out our dinners at home.”Read More

“From Seamless, we have either sushi or tacos, or we’ll have ramen. It’s a lot of Asian food. There are so many options around our apartment. There’s Chipotle down the block that we go to a lot. There’s Dig Inn and Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine—it’s ten dollars and you get rice, a chicken quarter, and a side, either avocado and beans or beets. Or my wife will maybe make something for the kids, and we’ll supplement. We’ll eat some of their meal and pretend we’re healthy and then we’ll order something else.” Read More

“Pocky. Mango is one of the hard-to-find flavors. I have people who go to Asia, and I send snack requests. This is all from Asia. This is exclusive [laughs], honey butter potato chips.”Read More

“I have season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets, and they have this VIP area at Barclay’s that has all the swag stuff. I’m always like, ‘Oh, okay, I’ll take one of these home.’ I’ll just start pocketing stuff [laughs]. We have a lot of snacks. Man, I didn’t even know this about myself: I hoard snacks.”Read More

“Late-night, there’s a place called Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya in the Sixty Hotel on Orchard Street I like going to, popping up at the bar and ordering a drink, and I can order a fried chicken or bone marrow fried rice. I like going to Noodletown for Chinese barbecue or a pan-fried seafood noodle at night. I’m a big fan of Little Italy Pizza. It’s a chain. They make this pizza that has bread crumbs on the bottom. It sounds weird, but it tastes delicious. It gets messy, but it’s a $2 slice. There’s this place formerly known as 69 Bayard [now called Wing Kee] on 69 Bayard with rice dishes and greasy hangover food. I don’t really venture north of Houston much, but I like Martha’s Pizza a lot. If I was going further north, there’s a place called Atoboy that I like that’s Korean.”Read More

“We drink a lot [laughs]. There’s definitely a lot of champagne. A lot of brown stuff. It’s either Johnny Walker or champagne for a special occasion. Every time we go somewhere, we try to get something from the duty-free. I alternate between drinking Black and Blue [Johnny Walker]. There’s some tequila back here, too. I don’t like it that much, but it’s in case people come over and they want it. I have lots of snacks, lots of alcohol.”Read More

“We keep a lot of Asian stuff: rice vinegar, sesame oil... And then basil, garlic, oregano, spicy stuff. Salt and pepper. Corn starch. Sugar. One of my favorite things is Progresso clam chowder. I like making a red bean soup, too. We’ll always have red beans up top, and we’ll just throw that in boiling water and cook it in, and in maybe an hour or so it breaks down and that’s a little sweet dessert. We’ll put in some of these lotus seeds into the pan. It’s a cool little snack. We have a pasta maker, but we do that when we have time—it’s still in the box.”Read More

“I eat a lot. I usually don’t eat breakfast. I’ll have a shake in the morning, or if I’m in a mood, I’ll make a smoothie or one of those protein drinks. Then, at ten, I’ll walk over to Black Seed or something and get a bagel, or even the gourmet supermarket downstairs that has a bacon, egg, and cheese. That’ll ride me out to, like, noon or one, and then I’ll go grab lunch somewhere, either at one of my restaurants or somewhere local. There’s a Vietnamese noodle place on Mott, Sweetgreen on Kenmare, Rubirosa on Mulberry. That’ll get me through until four or five, and then I’ll have a cup of coffee at Cha Cha Matcha, Café Integral on Elizabeth. And then dinner home with the kids. I usually try to have a little sit at the table and have dinner with them, or if I’m staying home we’ll order takeout. Maple is big for us—we do a lot of Maple and Seamless.

“For dinner, a lot of times it’s the crock pot, because this is actually the simplest way to make food for an entire family. We do some sort of protein and vegetables and let it cook down. We pair it with an order of soba noodles or a pasta with pasta sauce, and then we’ll just put it all together. Or if I have time, I like making stir-fries. I buy vegetables on the way home from Chinatown and cut them small and then run it through on the wok with rice and protein. Or even better, we’ll buy some barbecue pork in Chinatown as well. I find myself staying for dinner for most nights, and then I go back to work—there’s always a late-night component. I’ve been out the last four nights. Every night after 8:00, the kids are fed, I give one a bath or my wife gives one a bath or we switch story time, and at, like, 8:00 they’re winding down, and then I’m back out running the circuit. I try to be home by midnight. I’ll get midnight to 7:00 to sleep and then do it over again.”Read More

“There are so many [good restaurants]. I like Kiki’s a lot in the Lower East Side. They’re doing really good food that’s affordable. I like Noreetuh in the East Village. It’s a Hawaiian restaurant with a very strong wine program. It’s anywhere from poke bowls, and they have Spam on the menu and creative Hawaiian-inspired food. Third would be Ice & Vice, which [is] an ice cream parlor on the Lower East Side at Clinton and East Broadway that is doing a lot of really interesting ice cream flavors.”Read More