WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- While so many restaurants closed during the pandemic, the owner of Native Noodles saw an opportunity and thought the timing was right to bring Singaporean food to Washington Heights.
"There's a local Dominican population, they're first-generation immigrants like myself," said Amy Pryke, Native Noodles owner. "At the same time, I felt there was a lack of ethnic food options in the neighborhood and I felt it would be an exciting opportunity to bring something additive to the food scene here."
But opening a Singaporean restaurant wasn't a fly-by-night decision for Pryke. She began planning while in business school at Columbia University and started cooking at the Queens Night Market while she was a student. She finally opened Native Noodles in February of this year.
"It's an eclectic mix of some of the flavors I miss from home, so there are some things that I would say are more traditional hawker food like the laksa noodles and then there are other things that are my interpretation of the flavor," she said.
Like the chili crab pasta or chili crab dip with fried mini buns, the buns make the crab easy to scoop up.
There are peanut satay noodles, a roti John sandwich, decadent waffles with kaya butter, and stir-fried bok choy at the other end of the spectrum.
"I had the wonton dumpling noodles and added the honey pork and an egg, so good, really well flavored, a little spice which I really enjoyed, can't recommend it enough," a customer said.
"I highly recommend the chili crab cakes, very, very good," another customer said.
"It's flavorful, lots of strong seasoning flavors, it's really good, I'm enjoying it a lot," a customer said.
The business is predominantly take-out, but plenty of customers dine in and don't mind the bare-bones setup. They just appreciate Pryke for opening there.
"She came to a predominantly Hispanic area, 67% Hispanic, and said, 'I'm opening a Singaporean restaurant,' and if you can do that you can do anything," a customer said.
"It's been really satisfying to kind of see the vision come to life," Pryke said. "And also to have a lot of repeat customers who say, yeah, I've never had Singaporean food before but they love what we're trying to do and that's really the best part for me."