Mr. Fong’s Bar Brings Allure To Chinatown
An authentic bar in Manhatten requires one to take journey to Chinatown
Review by Kyle Ridington
A good story always lasts longer than a good time. Tom Gannon
Owner’s Aisa Shelley and Adam Moonves have worked in New York bars since the 1990s. A few more notable and recent establishments have been Fatty ‘Cue, The Fat Radish and The Rooftop at The Wythe Hotel. The vision was to create a local bar with divey feel while to attract an authentic crowd. The top real estate agent of Chinatown, Mr. Fong, found the space and assisted with the liquor license to the community board so it was only natural to name it after him. Mr. Fong’s lies inconspicuous on the corner of Market and Madison Streets under the Manhattan Bridge in lower Manhattan’s Chinatown.
At night, a walk or ride to this desolate area in Chinatown with fading street lights, locked metal gates pulled over store fronts, a smattering of Chinese restaurant with C Health Department ratings, the echo of bridge traffic above and most notable, the turbid fish scented air is grit in its pure form. This location may be just extreme enough to create a buffer zone to keep out said individuals that talk at high volumes and throw their AMEX cards on bars upon arrival. Despite the dimly lit block it isn’t difficult to locate with the assortment of people talking and puffing on cigarettes outside a seasoned brick building with tarnished wooden crown molding on the exterior.
The interior reveals a black and white tiled floor that leads to the mahogany leather booths carved around the corners of the space with circular granite table tops with gold colored hardware. All the chairs are wooden with green leather cushions. Palm leaves and tropical plants are planted in every corner with triangular ceiling lights that give off a subtle art décor, tiki bar vibe.
The granite top bar is simple with liquor bottles stacked on glass shelving. The house drinks and beers are written on two chalk boards adjacent to both sides of the liquor shelf. The mind warp is the left chalk board descriptions are written backwards, right to left, which makes everyone double take. A jukebox becomes the center piece of the room sandwiched between another booth and palm tree with a DJ stand hidden behind the bar in a far corner.
More evident than the décor is the sangfroid feel of a local bar that is loose and easy going. The beverage menu is based on drinks that one just wants to drink and not think about. Beer ranges from $5 to $7 with labels such as Tsing Tao and Coors Light. The corky House Drinks such as Tequila & Watermelon or Gin & Coconut priced at $9 make for an easy gulp. The shelf spirits remain couple dollars beneath the Manhattan norm for any hip bar. The food comes in a bar snack size from Pork Buns to Malaysian Jerky.
The crowd consists of people emerging from art, fashion, music and hospitality professions. The 4am seven nights a week bar hours brings a range of possibilities and opportunities each night that reflects upon the hour and DJ. Certain nights it is a rave and others, it’s sexy scene right out of the movie Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino. Mr. Fong’s showcases what a classic East Village and Lower East Side bar scene was like in the earlier 2000s but with a sprinkle of more appeal. What once was a dime a dozen now becomes a diamond in the ruff.
Mr. Fong’s doesn’t have a website nor a marketing company. Their sole form of media is their Instagram MRFONGSNYC. The content revealed is comical with black and white pictures of influential actors or musicians with hysterical captions attached. One example is a picture of Roger Moore as James Bond sipping a martini with a cigarette in hand looking to the side. The caption reads, Multitasking.
Enquiries: Mr. Fong’s, 40 Market Street, New York, New York. 10001 / 6469644540 / https://www.instagram.com/mrfongsnyc/