Neighborhood Eats: Fat Choy offers "kind of Chinese also vegan" fare in Lower East Side

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- In this week's Neighborhood Eats, indoor dining may be on pause, but that isn't affecting a new restaurant in Manhattan.

Fat Choy has decided to forgo indoor dining altogether, and it may be what's helping them stay in business.

The restaurant is located at 250 Broome Street on the Lower East Side, on a city block that happens to be closed to through traffic as a way to help restaurants survive the coronavirus pandemic.

That is certainly helping, and so is their menu.

"If there's a concept that is going to be fit for this type of environment, it's ours," co-owner Jared Moeller said. "We kind of have this easy menu, we have our takeout window here, so we said, you know what, let's do it. We had already signed the lease."

And after a delay of six months, Moeller and Justin Lee finally opened Fat Choy at the end of September, serving up what they call "kind of Chinese."

"We're Chinese American food," Lee said. "We're the newer wave of Chinese American."

It's also vegan, yet neither owner is vegan.

In fact, they met while working at a charcuterie restaurant.

"We're trying our best to eat less meat, to eat less animal products," Lee said. "For us, it's an environmental choice."

The concise menu includes smashed cucumbers with sesame dressing, salt and pepper cauliflower, and rice rolls -- as well as their take on a hot pocket, a bun stuffed with tofu prepared three different ways. They also have a riff on a sloppy joe.

"The bread itself is actually a Chinese bread, it's a sesame pancake," Lee said. "The flavorings inside are very Asian, whether they be like a chili bean paste, a little bit of five-spice, all of the mushrooms that are in there."

It's their biggest seller.

"The mushroom is really good," one customer said. "I'm also glad it's not spicy. I will try to eat vegan whenever it's convenient and affordable and good, which this place, it checked the boxes."

Fat Choy, which is a way of wishing prosperity in the new year, may not yet be prospering, but it's holding its own in this Lower East Side community.

"Everyone seems to be helping each other in these times," Moeller said. "Everyone's a small business owner, almost all restaurants here, it's been going really great."

"We have no other option but to win," Lee said. "That's all we can do."

Fat Choy is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

They're offering two different kinds of meals for the holidays that you can heat up at home for $50 per person.

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