In so-called “East” Williamsburg, where bespoke cocktail spots are only just beginning to outnumber no-frills Latin lunch counters, Win Son could easily be mistaken for a corner bodega, largely inconspicuous beneath its faded yellow and blue awning. But there’s no misinterpreting interiors of dazzling white subway tile and purposefully exposed brick (boundaried by a generously-sized statement bar, serving pickled ramp gibsons and china coladas) as anything but the trappings of a millennial Brooklyn restaurant.
Yet instead of operating within the expected local-seasonal framework, first-time owners Trigg Brown and Josh Ku—the former a sous chef, the latter versed in real estate—have taken a page from forebears like Eddie Huang and David Chang, by playing fast and loose with the signature fare of Taiwan. Which, despite being a diminutive island, presents ample opportunities for riffing; the cuisine colored by Japanese colonialism and waves of Chinese refugeeism, as well as marked by a distinct culinary contrast, between the countrified south and cosmopolitan capital of Taipei.
At Win Son, homage is paid to both classic xiǎochī (street snacks) as well as the tradition of leisurely family-style dining; too bad the circular, communal tables aren’t anchored by customary Lazy Susans. Still, the menu (which dutifully designates various items as vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free) is suitably priced and portioned to feed a small crowd, featuring dim sum favorites such as turnip cake (which gets a Taiwanese twist by being wrapped in an omelet), Chinese/Korean zhajiangmian; fat, flat noodles sauced with ground lamb and spears of raw cucumber, and Sichuan-meets-the-Mediterranean fried eggplant; daubed with black vinegar, cashews and a smudge of kefir cheese. There are also a few unambiguously Taiwanese offerings, including lu rou fan—a braised pork stew enhanced with broccoli and circles of soy-marinated egg—along with a Goose Point oyster omelet painted with ketchup and the evocatively-dubbed “flies head” stir fry, named for its beady bits of fermented black beans.
A bit harder to split (amongst more than two diners, at least) are the sandwiches, but perhaps that’s for the best, as it’s hard not to feel covetous of Win Son’s battered bird on a sweet bun, gushing forth geysers of fermented tofu mayo, which could well emerge as Brooklyn’s answer to Huang’s red sugar-rimmed bao, or Chang’s exalted Fuku fried chicken. And then there’s the nutritious sandwich (inspired by a particular Taiwanese night market stall) comprised of ham, pickled pineapple and jalapenos, coffined in an oblong of oil-blistered mantou. In other words, it’s a Hawaiian pizza encased in a deep-fried donut— which, while not remotely nutritious, is unequivocally delicious and the perfect late night trash-food answer to the neighborhood’s encroaching influx of bars.
159 Graham Ave., Bushwick