An Evening At Nowon (In Bushwick)

I made a 7pm reservation at Nowon for myself and three friends, two who are married and one who is vegan (no overlap). After looking at the menu, I felt guilty for my vegan friend, Ben, to see the very limited vegan food options. When I suggested the place to Jed, one of the two married friends, he texted back “Wow this place looks amazing / Literally perfect! / What time?”

I arrived at 7:01 and checked in with the host, who tried to seat us outside despite the Resy being for “dining room.” Everyone else was late anyways, so I said we could wait for a table inside, and settled onto one of the couches up front by the bar. Ben got there around 7:05 and joined me on the couch, where I told him what happened with the reservation and also warned him about the menu. The host had a table ready by 7:10, and we were seated before the other two even arrived.

A server came by, filled our waters, brought menus, and recommended one of the “mixtapes”, either the E.P. (five courses) or the classic, which includes dessert. Jed and Olivia and sat and we ordered drinks: I got the Big Head (kimchi tequila / aperitif / orange), one friend got a soju, and the others got an NA beer and the K-Pop Punch (horchata / hibiscus / pina / citrus / cinnamon). We also got one order of the “chopped cheese” rice cakes that everyone seems to be talking about.

I was worried about my drink being spicy but it was nicely balanced and mild. The rice cakes were perfectly chewy and basically tasted like macaroni and cheese with meat sauce, and scallions, which should be on everything. Sharing between three people was the right choice, I would have happily eaten the entire order myself but, knowing what was to come, I’m glad that I didn’t. What was to come: I ordered the Legendary Cheeseburger, Ben got the vegan shroom noodles, and the other two got the buldak pizza and the chicken bun. They deliberated over getting the chicken bun with tofu, which is an option, but stuck with the original.

Ben’s noodles came out, and as we were waiting for the rest of the food I got a beer (EBBS, which I’ve been wanting to try) and Jed ordered the Orange Theory (honey / chili oil / turmeric / citrus / almond). I was reminded by the mocktail about the bad experience I had a few days earlier with the fitness studio Orange Theory. I have never lifted weights in my life, this was my first time trying Orange Theory, and during their extensive intake process for first-timers, I told the trainer I was nervous about the weights and asked him to please check on me. The treadmill and rowing machine were fine, but I think I hurt my back on the weight floor. Olivia lifts weights and is also an occupational therapist and gave me good advice on how to try and feel better. Jed said he liked his “Orange Theory.”

The two sandwiches came out together: my cheeseburger, their chicken bun. The cheeseburger was delicious but I also tried their chicken bun and would order that instead next time. The pizza, which is only at the Bushwick location and not in the East Village, was also great. Ben enjoyed his noodles. We finished everything and asked about dessert. They had black sesame creme brulee, which sounds like the best dessert I could imagine, but nobody wanted to share with me so we paid the bill and left. So many things these days are expensive, but I will say that I appreciate Nowon charging two dollars less for cocktails here than at the East Village location. Everyone should do that. And I want to go to the one on E. 6th Street, where they don’t have pizzas, but do have some rice dishes. I also want to try the mixtape menu, which feels fairly reasonable at $39, all things considered. 

When we walked out of the restaurant Olivia admitted that she had been interested in the black sesame creme brulee. I was sad that she didn’t say this earlier, but happy to walk everyone down Jefferson and Irving and through the park to the crepe place on Knickerbocker where they have black sesame ice cream. We each got a scoop and Ben got a vegan passionfruit slushy. Sometimes it’s nice to walk a little after dinner, and then you’ll be ready for dessert, even if you didn’t think you would be.

Nowon’s Bushwick location is located at 436 Jefferson Street.

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