Restaurateur Wilson Tang remembers opening New York City’s Fung Tu, which marked his expansion of a decades-old family business.

The dining room at Fung Tu, on Orchard Street, in New York City

I never chose the restaurant industry, I like to think it chose me.

In January 2011, I inherited Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the old school [dim-sum spot] in New York City’s Chinatown, from my Uncle Wally. It was very successful under my leadership, and after a year, I felt like it was time to open a place of my own.

Creating that restaurant, Fung Tu, was the perfect storm of meeting the right people, finding the right location, and hard work.

The exterior of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, on Doyers Street, in New York City

Restaurateur Wilson Tang in front of New York City’s Chinatown mural

I met Jonathan Wu, who would become the chef, through mutual friends and we immediately hit it off. We both wanted to do something out of the box:

an untraditional Chinese restaurant that recalled my memories of the food I ate growing up in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

I found the restaurant space through my dad’s friend, who owns the building on Orchard Street. That was a lucky break because we got a great deal.

Atmosphere inside Fung Tu

My business partner and I designed the interior with his wife and were very hands on with the buildout, so much so that we were sanding and staining the floors until the night before we opened!

Witnessing the fruits of our labor on opening night was so emotional.

The best part was seeing Jonathan celebrate his very first restaurant with his family and grandfather.

I found happiness in seeing him happy.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Restaurateur Joe Bastianich takes The Thick Questionnaire, jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher shares favorites from her stockpile of serving bowls.


Menus and mixers on the restaurant’s bar, all photography by Sania Tharani