“I enjoy a home cooked meal every once in a while.” Alexander Wang admits. In a city filled with eateries and 24 hour delivery services, a home cooked meal can be seen as either a luxury or an inconvenience. But for the 27 year old designer, home cooked meals at his brother’s have become somewhat of a tradition. Atop the bustling streets of SoHo, we gathered at Chez Wang to witness first hand what goes into these weekly get-togethers. Upon entering the apartment, one can’t help but notice the intimacy of the space. The large dining room table, which seats around 8 people comfortably, is used nightly for meals and casual conversation. It is positioned centrally, signifying the importance of family gatherings. The aroma is heavy with familiar scents of garlic, sizzling soy, and peppers. When the family congregates here three days a week, the scene remains relatively the same. They lounge, make a multi-dish meal, and consume what Alex calls “my version of comfort food”.
To some, Asian food does not typify comfort cuisine, but for Alex and his family, these dishes bring back memories of childhood. “Its like the one thing that still hasn’t changed since I was little. No matter how busy or how little we see each other, cooking always brings us back memories of growing up.” Now that they are older, the role of chef has been adopted by everyone. Alex loves nothing more than enjoying a meal with friends and family. “On one of the three nights my family and I get together, I invite four or five of my close friends over. We cook, eat, then sit on the couch and unwind.” His friends aren’t shy about helping out as well. They can usually be found preparing ingredients or washing produce alongside Wang’s family.
Tonight, a feast has been planned and everyone has gathered in the kitchen to help with various preparations. Long green beans are diced, garlic cloves smashed, baby bok choy washed, and chicken marinated and ready for the stove. The steam is rising from the rice cooker, and the wok along with other pots and pans are sitting atop the stove waiting to sizzle the delectable ingredients. Each dish is artfully arranged before being brought out to the table. Soy braised green beans with garlic creates a makeshift fort for the aromatic chicken. Deep red peppers accent sliced Chinese sausages. Tonight, they have made a few of Alex’s favorite dishes to share with us- diced spicy string beans with minced pork, grilled Chinese sausage with sliced garlic, marinated sticky rice steamed with mushrooms and pork belly, braised beef noodle stew, and last but not least a simple yet time consuming pickled cabbage and radish. When everyone sits down to eat, chopsticks are passed around the table and food is piled into bowls, atop perfectly cooked white rice. There is never a dull moment at the Wang abode as constant conversation and laughter fills the dinner table.
When he is not eating at home, Alex sticks to what he knows but will sometimes be persuaded to go on culinary adventures by his close friends. “I pretty much love all sorts of Asian cuisines, out of which, Vietnamese is probably my favorite. Other than Asian, I tend to try lighter Italian cuisines” But given the choice, its likely Alex will pick a bowl of Pho over a bowl of bolognese.
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