Lady Wong is a new Southeast Asian dessert shop in the East Village.
Owned by wife-and-husband duo Seleste Tan and Mogan Anthony—both originally from Malaysia and now in New York by way of Singapore—Lady Wong was born about a year ago as a solely-online business that also operated a slew of pop-up events around town.
"We started the business in February of 2021, during the Chinese New Year," recalls Anthony. "We couldn't fly home and we were stuck in Connecticut. Since we had plenty of time on hand and both of us were chefs who worked at the likes of Jean-Georges, Spice Market and the Four Seasons Singapore, we decided to learn and refine [the recipes] for traditional pastries [hailing] from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam."
Fast-forward a year and the couple is still producing all treats in small batches by hand—albeit in their very first brick-and-mortar shop. And if the line outside the store on opening day is of any indication, New York has clearly been craving well-made Southeast Asian desserts.
The menu will strike anyone as remarkably long. Options include the kuih angku, the classic Chinese cake popularly filled with nutty creamy mung bean, grated coconuts and peanuts; the serimuka, a steamed pandan custard cake with sticky rice on the bottom; the 72-hours pineapple cake (yes, it's cooked for three days); the kuih gomak, resembeling mochi with peanuts; the rose cracker; the triple stuffed durian layered steamed cake; the durian crepe mill and the visually beautiful kuih koci, a black glutinous cake wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed with grated coconut jam (this one's served with coconut milk!).
In addition to the desserts, patrons get to order from a pretty hefty list of creative drinks. Standouts include the pulled tea, the traditional black rice drink pulut hitam and—perhaps the most simple menu item on offer—coffee from Coffee Project NY (served with condensed milk, though!).
Whether the traditional Southeast Asian flavors will strike your fancy might be up for debate, but the mere number of offerings at Lady Wong truly makes the destination deserving of our attention. We didn't even know these many desserts existed—let along as part of a single cultural and culinary canon.